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Live Review: Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band at the Forum in Southern California

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Celebrating over five decades in music, Detroit rocker and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame icon Bob Seger, backed as always by his Silver Bullet Band, delivered a powerful and passionate old-school styled performance on February 23, 2019 that generated kinetic excitement among the packed crowd inside the Forum in Inglewood, California.

This was a special night, as loyal acolytes and new supporters gathered one last time to experience the majesty of Bob Seger in concert on his farewell tour.

A well-respected elder statesman of rock, Bob Seger’s no-frills presentation drew from a timeless body of work, yielding 23 songs that cherry-picked heavily from his ‘70s and ‘80s commercial stronghold on the music charts and FM radio airwaves nationwide.

From the rollicking show opener “Shakedown,” which set the tone, Seger and The Silver Bullet Band treated the standing-room-only audience to a raucous, heartfelt and fun-filled romp that traversed through a rich catalog of smash hits and FM rock perennials, “The Fire Down Below,” “Turn The Page,” “Beautiful Loser,” “Come To Poppa,” “Still The Same,” “Mainstreet,” “Old Time Rock & Roll,” “Hollywood Nights,” and “Against The Wind,” among others. Several songs were showcased that haven’t been played for decades, notably “Shame On The Moon,” marking the first time it’s been performed on tour in 28 years, and “You’ll Accompany Me.”

Embarking on his final tour, watching the show there’s clearly no dust on this veteran heartland rocker. The concert boasted a set list crammed with countless hits and revered FM radio cuts that would be the dream catalog for any aspiring rocker.

Clapping and prancing around the stage, arms aloft exhorting both the crowd and his fellow band members, Seger looked like he was having the time of his life. As Seger and The Silver Bullet Band kicked into “Old Time Rock & Roll,” the entire arena erupted and were on its feet, hot wired into the song’s nostalgic celebration of the good old days of rock and roll. “Her Strut,” introduced by Seger as the “most-played song of 1980,” rode on a sturdy, bluesy groove while an elegant rendition of “Like A Rock” was given new meaning with the artist remarking it was a song he wrote on ’83 thinking about his high school days in ‘63 when he was a cross-country runner and how he felt after working out.

In terms of stage production, a Seger show is not a visual extravaganza built on dazzling technology. A streamlined production shone the spotlight on what mattered most, the music itself, which was tonight’s main attraction — meat and potatoes rock and roll embodying the dreams, struggles and ambitions of the blue-collar brigade. In songs like “Night Moves,” “Beautiful Loser,” “Mainstreet” and countless others, Seger’s music demonstrated a hard-won authenticity with evocative lyrics reflecting the everyman.

Prefacing an impassioned rendering of “We’ve Got Tonight,” which featured Seger’s performance of the song on piano, he remarked, “this song was my mother’s favorite song. She passed away in ‘89 and we’ve been doing it ever since.” That tangible tug of emotion was on display the entire night and resonating particularly on songs like “Mainstreet,” “Still The Same” and “Shame On The Moon.” Tapping deeper into that emotion, a battery of cell phones were held aloft lighting the interior of The Forum during a delicate reading of “Turn The Page,” the audience connecting with the somber deep reservoir of blue heartbreak of the song, the sold out-crowd with him every step of the way.

Near the end of the set, Seger dedicated “Forever Young” to his treasured friend, fellow Detroit rocker Glenn Frey, championing the song as being written by who he considers the “Mount Everest of songwriters, Bob Dylan.” The stately interpretation featured a moving big-screen display of images of late music icons including Stevie Ray Vaughan, BB King, Chuck Berry, Aretha Franklin, Tom Petty, Gregg Allman, Prince and Frey.

The final song of the main set found Seger winding the wayback machine back 50 years and kickin’ out the jams “Motor City” style with the raw gritty amphetamine soul of “Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man;” Prior to playing the tune Seger revealed to the crowd that Glenn Frey sang background vocals on the original record.

Returning to the stage for two dynamic encores, a five-song goodbye, “In Your Time,” “Against The Wind,” “Hollywood Nights, “Night Moves” and a barnstorming “Rock & Roll Never Forgets,”(where he craftily changed the lyrics to “so now sweet sixteen’s turned seventy-three!“) Seger left it all on the stage. There was no sadness among the crowd as the final notes of “Rock & Roll Forgets” rang out through the arena, only joy in witnessing a life-affirming celebration of a spectacular musical legacy.

–Ken Sharp

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