Concert: Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band in Uncasville, CT
While at least a couple of his songs could serve as ripe cliches for a casino crowd, Bob Seger resisted the temptation during a sold-out stop Saturday (11/26) at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, CT. Both "Beautiful Loser" and "Ramblin' Gamblin' Man" were performed with nary a wink or sideways glance, but audience members still must have departed the arena following Seger's two-hour-plus show feeling like they were the ones who hit the jackpot.
At age 66, the Dearborn, MI, native hit the road once again earlier this year to promote a new greatest-hits collection, "Ultimate Hits: Rock and Roll Never Forgets," and left just a few of those 26 hits on the sidelines during his Connecticut stop.
Opting out on a few favorites -- including "You'll Accomp'ny Me," "Nine Tonight," "Fire Lake" and "Shakedown" -- the 21-song set chose instead to pay tribute to two of Seger's rock-and-roll inspirations, Little Richard and Tina Turner.
His rendition of Richard's "Hay-Hey-Hey-Hey (Going Back to Birmingham)," which appears on the new package was, originally recorded in 1989 for the "Road House" movie soundtrack, but it didn't make the final cut and remained unreleased until this year. Similar to the other cover, Seger's take on "Nutbush City Limits" was a rousing blast from the past, propelled by the four-piece "Motor City Horns" and 41-year Silver Bullet saxman Alto Reed, who strapped on a huge bass saxophone to lay down some serious bottom end on the arrangement.
His holiday season gift to the Mohegan Sun crowd saw Seger seated and strumming acoustic guitar on "Little Drummer Boy," another long-standing hit from 1987 that is a staple on radio airwaves and piped into many a shopping center during Christmastime.
The rest of the set offered no untested new material or other obscure surprises, which was just fine for the boisterous audience, who gladly helped shout out snippets of verses when prompted by Seger's outstretched microphone and responded warmly to ballads and rockers alike.
It may have been lost on many, but the setlist appeared to be constructed to provide Seger with maximum energy by breaking up not only the musical pacing, but switching him around from standing center stage to singing extended parts of songs on either the far right or left-side wings. At other points he sat with his acoustic, or was seated at the piano.
He even disappeared quickly into a dressing room beneath the drum riser at about the midpoint in the show, and reappeared unfazed about two minutes later.
Throughout the performance, Seger looked happy, even jubilant, although his choice of a black headband in contrast to his white head of hair and beard looked a bit silly. It certainly did not detract from his performance, as he jammed his way from the opening number, "Roll Me Away," through "Fire Down Below," "Main Street," "We've Got Tonight," "Turn the Page" and the set-ending stomper "Katmandu."
The first of two encores put Seger back behind the piano, while Reed picked up a guitar for "Against the Wind," and then revved up with "Hollywood Nights," and encore number two brought the house down with "Night Moves," and the appropriate closer, "Rock & Roll Never Forgets."
Besides long-time band mate Alto Reed, the Silver Bullet Band also featured bassist Chris Campbell, who has been backing Seger since 1969. Grand Funk Railroad drummer Don Brewer, lead guitarist Kenny Greenberg and backup singer/percussionist Laura Creamer also turned in great performances.
The evening opened with a too-long set from Detroit native Frankie Ballard, who mixed his straight-ahead, southern-flavored rock with covers from John Mellencamp and Creedence, as well as a surprisingly well-received "Black Betty."
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