"Rock and Roll Never Forgets" is a popular Bob Seger tune...and the same can be said for the Michigan rocker's hordes of fans who still love and respect him; they sure haven't forgotten him. A near sell-out crowd made that loud and clear Thursday night when Seger's current "Ride Out Tour" stopped at Tampa's Amalie Arena
As John Fogerty's "The Old Man Down the Road" blared through PA speakers, Seger and his enormous Silver Bullet Band took their places on the massive stage just before 9. Warmly greeting the raucous crowd, Seger, dressed in plain black shirt, jeans, glasses and sporting a mop of snowy white hair, looked more like the local neighborhood handyman than a respected and revered rocker. But, make no mistake, once the band was settled, Seger wasted no time in getting down to business.
With this rich, raspy voice in superb form, Seger opened his set with his 1983 hit "Roll Me Away," which instantly became a spirited sing-along. A cross section of bikers, senior citizens, hippies, yuppies all became one as they sang along to the song's chorus in unison.
Bolstered by three powerhouse female back-up singers and a five-piece horn section (featuring long time alum, sax player Alto Reed), Seger's band sounded clear, meaty and razor-sharp. A cover of Otis Clay's 1972 R&B classic "Tryin' to Live My Life Without You" (which was featured on Seger's 1981 live album NineTonight) best exemplified the Silver Bullet Band's many strengths band boasts, including booming basslines from veteran player Chris Campbell and a rock-solid beat from ex-Grand Funk drummer Don Brewer.
Seger, just a few months shy of reaching his 70th birthday, is no stranger to the stage. Wearing a constant grin and regularly thanking fans for attending and letting us know how good it was to be back in our town, the man is no stranger to showmanship. But his enthusiasm and his humbleness all come across as heartfelt. As he threw on a headband, he alerted the audience that he was going to travel back to his 1976 Night Moves album, his commercial breakthrough LP. Understandably, his comment was met with a wall of applause as the band launched into the blazing bluesy rocker, "The Fire Down Below," and then the place went nuts.
A respected and revered songwriter in his own right, Seger's a guy who's not timid about tackling the work of other songwriters. His set consisted of some borrowed tunes like Steve Earle's "The Devil's Right Hand," Willie Mitchell's "Come to Poppa" and John Hiatt's "Detroit Made." All the while, Seger made those tunes his very own as he drenched them in his gravely voice, which seemed to gain power and force as the night wore on.
Spotlighting some selections from his latest album, 2014's Ride Out , Seger showed he can still deliver rockers and crowd-pleasers. Most engaging was "Hey Gypsy," a song Seger said he was inspired to write as an homage to late Texas guitar hero Stevie Ray Vaughan. "I wanted to make it sound like something Stevie would have sang," Seger announced before getting down into the meat of the blues-rock heart of the song.
Strapping on an acoustic guitar and perching himself on a stool for his 1986 smash hit "Like A Rock," Seger toned it down a bit and was again met with the accompaniment of thousands of singers as the audience joined in for the all-too-familiar chorus. Bob sat at a small piano and starting plunking out the well-known intro to his classic ballad "We've Got Tonight," which he mentioned was his mother's favorite of all his songs.
No greater response was elicited throughout the main set, however, as when Seger launched into his signature song and the anthem of his followers, "Turn The Page." With it's familiar sax line faithfully recreated, Seger delivered an eager and earnest rendition of a song he's had to have played live thousands of times. And, again, the place went wild.
Coming backBob and the band returned to treat the crowd to two encores crammed with his biggest hits of all, opening with a spirited rendition of his 1980 classic "Against the Wind." An elated Seger, still sporting his perennial grin, seemed downright giddy as he mentioned running into the legendary Detroit Tigers right fielder Al Kaline backstage during the set break and he proceeded to dedicate the song to his hometown baseball star.
His coming-of-age classic "Night Moves" launched the second encore as was very well the night's most poignant and moving moment. The uncontested classic, which really shows off Seger's vocals as they range from a gentle whisper to an assaulting growl, went over marvelously as the appreciative audience — on their feet for most of the night — again sang along.
Wrapping things up around a full two hours after initially taking the stage, Seger and his trusty 13-piece band closed the evening's festivities with "Rock and Roll Never Forgets," a fine and appropriate sentiment to leave his faithful followers with at the end of the night.
Roll Me Away
Tryin' to Live My Life Without You
The Fire Down Below
The Devil's Right Hand
Old Time Rock & Roll
Come to Poppa
Like a Rock
Travelin' Man / Beautiful Loser
All of the Roads
We've Got Tonight
Turn the Page
Against the Wind
Second Encore :
Rock and Roll Never Forgets