Bob Seger – Nutter Center (concert review)

Bob Seger – Nutter Center, Dayton, OH – April 9, 2013

Seger rocks the Heartland

As satisfying a classic rock concert experience as you’ll find, Bob Seger played the Nutter Center in Dayton, OH, Tuesday night to a raucous, near-capacity crowd.   The Michigan native certainly connected with the over fifty, mostly blue collar audience – and they let him know through their deafening applause.  While there are plenty of veteran bands touring the country, there’s something about Seger that is just more honest and real.

Perhaps it’s the mostly no-frills approach that Seger has always taken in concert.  Although his light show was more sophisticated than in recent tours, he was still joined by the ever-present Silver Bullet band, several backup vocalists, and a full horn section, spotlighting longtime saxophonist Alto Reed (who, at one point, played a horn almost as big as he was!).  Reed and smokin’ guitarist Rob McNelley (an Ohio native), helped share the spotlight and added to the excitement of the evening.

Then there’s Seger’s songs, so many of which could’ve easily been written yesterday.  It’s shocking how much his lyrics refer to the passage of time – “Like a Rock,” “Mainstreet,” “Night Moves,” and “Against the Wind.”  How a relatively young rocker in the Seventies had the foresight to pen such timeless classics that would still feel appropriate some 40 years later is stunning.  Yet, keep in mind that, at the height of disco, Seger sang “Old Time Rock n’ Roll.”  While other bands have had their “I hope I die before I get old” embarrassing moment, Seger seems to have foreshadowed his aging and welcomed it.

The two-hour set featured songs covering his entire career – dipping back to his first hit, 1968’s “Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man,” all the way to two brand new songs, which Seger promises to have out in album form by August of this year.  Of these new tracks, “California Style,” featuring words by Woody Gutherie, sounded particularly nice.  One of the evening’s surprises was “Like a Rock,” which he claimed hadn’t been performed live in 27 years.

His signature song, “Turn the Page,” is one of the most overplayed tracks on Classic Rock radio.  Yet, when longtime saxophonist Alto Reed hit those first few notes – it sent goosebumps throughout the arena.  This unique setting cast the lyrics in their proper light – honestly, there’s really never been a more poignant account of life on the road.

He also dug back to his Detroit soul roots for two classics – George Jackson’s “Trying to Live My Life Without You” and Ann Peebles’ “Come to Popa.”  He encored with “Against the Wind,” “Hollywood Nights,” and “Night Moves,” with the very appropriate “Rock n’ Roll Never Forgets” closing the evening.

Minus the two new pieces, every other song was a bonafide classic, making for a sing a long, rockin’ evening, played by an artist that can still bring it.  –Tony Peters