After four-year absence, Seger gives fans some old time rock ’n’ roll
Bob Seger wisely understands that absence makes the heart grow fonder. And judging from the volume of the singalongs during the Detroit rocker’s two-hour show last night at the TD Garden, the sold-out crowd of near 16,000 definitely missed him in the four years since he last hit town with his Silver Bullet Band.
But the fun the audience was having paled in comparison with the visible joy exuding from Seger during the performance. If, at 65, he’s supposed to be slowing down, Seger hasn’t gotten the memo.
Instead the spry singer-songwriter took center stage with unabashed zeal. He punctuated the backbeat with fist pumps and cheered on the members of his band as they barreled through a varied setlist that dealt a few deep cuts, judicious covers, a new single, and an old unreleased song into the stacked deck that is his beloved back catalog of American rock radio classics.
If only the mix had been as healthy as Seger — who may have lost some of his ability to sustain long notes and upper register but retains all of his power. During the opening salvo — including “Roll Me Away,’’ “Trying to Live My Life Without You’’ and the sassy strutter “The Fire Down Below’’ — Seger’s voice was buried by the band.
And as good as they were — numbering up to 14 at points including three dynamite backing vocalists and a four-man horn section helping out Alto Reed — it would’ve been nice to have a better balance.
The sound improved incrementally and luckily reached a point of clarity during the night’s two showstoppers “We’ve Got Tonight’’ and “Turn the Page,’’ which took on a communal, almost worshipful quality as the crowd carried the songs to the banners.
Although the hits are bedrock, Seger still tinkers with his set list from tour to tour. Last night he tried out “Shinin’ Brightly’’ and “Good For Me’’ — a couple of lesser-known tracks from “Against the Wind’’ — his new cover of Tom Waits’ “Downtown Train’’ and his version of Vince Gill’s barn-burning “Real Mean Bottle’’ from his most recent album.
But it was clearly the familiar the crowd came for, and Seger didn’t disappoint, breathing life into warhorses like “Old Time Rock & Roll,’’ “Katmandu,’’ and “Rock & Roll Never Forgets’’ with infectious enthusiasm.