Bob Seger Shows That His ‘Night Moves’ Are Still Good In Cleveland
Seger was in Cleveland on Thursday night to play the next to last show on his present run of dates. The Cleveland date had originally been scheduled for early April, and was canceled at the last minute when Seger came down with “flu-like symptoms.”
Looking fully rejuvenated more than a month later and sounding in good voice, the 66-year-old Rock and Roll Hall of Famer needed only a few lines from show opener 'Roll Me Away' to get the crowd firmly in hand for a set that stretched 25 songs and lasted nearly two hours.
“So great to be back” was the very simple greeting from Seger early in the show. In fact, he wasn't long on between-song storytelling, although his brief moments of communication with the crowd did include a choice nugget about how 'Turn The Page' came together at Leon Russell's studio in Paradise, Oklahoma.
The setlist featured an interesting number of rarities and songs that hadn't been played on Seger's 2006/2007 tour. One highlight was a pair of songs from his 1980 'Against the Wind' album, 'Shinin' Brightly' and 'Good For Me' (the latter of which featured Seger on piano), which he said had only been played once on the last tour. Seger noted that “we were trying to think of some other stuff that we hadn't done in a long time” and he certainly delivered with an interesting set that ultimately featured a total of six tracks from the 'Against the Wind' album.
The Michigan-born rocker's close proximity to the Cleveland area has always made him a favorite son here and his longtime backing band The Silver Bullet Band are definitely valued members of the extended family. Charismatic saxophonist and multi-instrumentalist Alto Reed is a fan favorite who added plenty of spice to the songs, moving from sax to acoustic guitar and even adding a little bit of flute at one point.
Reed also played percussion on Seger's rendering of the Tom Waits standard 'Downtown Train,' a song that is slated to be featured on Seger's next album, and the sole bit of new material heard on the night. Live, Seger's version of 'Downtown' gained quite a bit of life that is missing from the sterile feel of the studio version.
The Silver Bullet Band are a sizable unit, the likes of which you rarely see these days outside of Tom Petty's Heartbreakers and Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band. The ensemble of players grew as large as 13 players on stage at various points of the night, with the addition of backing vocalists and a four piece horn section that Seger dubbed the 'Motor City Horns.'
Drummer Don Brewer of Grand Funk Railroad paired with longtime bassist Chris Campbell to lay down a solid foundation for the rest of the band to build upon. Guitarists Mark Chatfield and Jim Brown exhibit an on-stage swagger and confidence in their playing that was infectious. Both the band and Bob wore ear-to-ear smiles throughout it all. By the time he sat down at the piano late in the show for 'We've Got Tonight,' hearing Seger breathing hard was proof positive that he was holding back nothing, leaving it all on the stage.
Some of Seger's hits came surprisingly early, with 'Old Time Rock and Roll' and 'Main Street' slotted only a few songs into the set. For 'Main Street,' Seger sat down with an acoustic to deliver a heartfelt version that felt amazingly personal and intimate considering that it was being played in an arena.
He replicated that feeling many times Thursday night in Cleveland with numerous favorites that remain timeless, holding four of his best shots for the double encore set. This portion of the show began with 'Against The Wind,' once again with Seger accompanying himself on acoustic guitar with a ruggedly worn vocal. As he sang "Wish I didn't know now / What I didn't know then," the meaning resonated more now with many in the audience than the first time that they heard it in their lives.
The second encore brought out 'Night Moves,' and although it's been many years since most of us dealt with those “awkward teenage blues,” hearing 'Night Moves' brings all of those moments streaming right back. Closing out the night with 'Rock and Roll Forgets,' Seger capped off an evening of songs in which the audience sang nearly every word right along with him. The ball's in his court now, but if he wants to come back around, it's clear that his fans will be right there waiting to hear him.
Watch Bob Seger perform 'Night Moves' in Cincinnati