Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band played first-rate “Old Time Rock and Roll” at the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia on December 3. The “ramblin’ gamblin’ man’s rollicky “Roll Me Away,” and “Trying to Live My Life without You” brought the audience to their feet in delight. While it is a radio staple, Seger played for the first time live his version of “Little Drummer Boy”. Showing his versatility, he tickled the ivories with great élan for “We Got Tonight”. He saved the anthem of my youth, “Against the Wind” for the first of two encores.
Seger paid homage to his roots with Little Richard’s “Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey Going Back to Birmingham” and Tina Turner’s “Nutbush City Limits”. The artfulness of Alto Reed, who has been with the Silver Bullet Band since 1971, on the saxophone during the intro to “Turn the Page,” rivaled that of Kenny G and the late Clarence Clemons. The mastery of legendary drummer Don Brewer, originally of the Grand Funk, was on display throughout the night.
Although Seger is now 66 years old, his trademark raspy voice sounded great. During a high energy performance, he boogied on both sides of the stage and repeatedly exhorted his fans to sing along. He graciously prefaced each song with its history. “I wrote “Turn the Page” in a hotel room in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, Alto did his thing, and then we recorded it in Leon Russell’s studio in Oklahoma.”
While one reviewer lamented the plain sets and dearth of sparkly costumes, I think that Katy Perry could learn a thing or two from Seger. The virtuosity and richness of his music does not require pink hair, lollipops, and swings.
The opening act, Whitey Morgan and the 78’s, delivered a strong honky tonky/ country performance.
I left the concert wondering why Seger is not a well- known as Springsteen and Eric Clapton. As my guest at the concert said, “This is the music I grew up with.” To paraphrase the last song of the night, Rock and Rollers never forget. I will be first in line when Seger’s highly anticipated new album comes out.