Better Than: Pretending today’s music has got the same soul. (Couldn’t resist.)
Bob Seger is summer nights and long drives. His songs capture the romantic suburban fantasies of middle America that star drive-in movies and stolen moments of youthful passion. He’s a Midwestern boy through and through and he brought those open-fielded, sun-soaked memories of youth and freedom to Brooklyn last night, making an older crowd seem like a group of enthusiastic kids in the process.
Opening with “Detroit Made,” a John Hiatt cover, and an early dedication of the show to his daughter on her eighteenth birthday, Seger kept things personal from the start. He wore a genuine grin throughout the night as he moved across the stage in a surprisingly agile manner. Seger has a cartoonish presence and energy — his skinny legs usually bent to a squatting position as his hands would grasp tightly on to the microphone. He would bare bright white teeth through a gray beard (think growling puppy rather than vicious watchdog). In general, he commanded attention without aggression; his schtick is that of everyone’s dad or grandpa, and his random musings on the weather and walking across the Brooklyn Bridge for the first time humorously drove that home.
One thing the strong set list proved is how easy it is to forget the sheer number of hits Seger has had over his career and how embedded into our pop culture many of them are. “Old Time Rock and Roll,” “We’ve Got Tonight,” “Turn the Page,” and “Katmandu” were just some of the more rambunctiously received moments from the evening. He even pulled out “Like a Rock” about halfway through and stated how the song has been performed on tour for the first time in 26 years. The quick association with Chevy commercials for “Like a Rock” and a film like Risky Business built upon the transportive nature of the show and Seger’s music in general. For an evening, it was any year the audience associated the songs with and wanted to pretend never ended.
The end of the set featured two encores from the band and packed in the most epic hits from Seger’s songbook. “Against the Wind” proved to be an emotionally stirring moment and bled into “Hollywood Nights,” which elicited plenty of very necessary amateur karaoke from the crowd. The second round of the encore began with the perfect ode to the freedom of youth Seger often reflects on. The repetition of “I remember, I remember” felt strikingly poignant when considering the weight of a packed stadium’s memories being pinned onto each track. As the “I remember” portion faded out, the Silver Bullet band blazed into a rendition of “Rock and Roll Never Forgets,” a song that perfectly summarizes the trust we can place in good ol’ fashion rock ‘n’ roll to act as a personal time machine and record of what it means to be “young and restless and bored,” as he sang in the previous tune. To the artist and seemingly every member of the audience, that feeling is something worth protecting and reliving often, and maybe a Bob Seger concert is the best place to do exactly that.
Critcal Bias: Yesterday would have been my grandpa’s 70th birthday, and he was the person who introduced me to Seger when I was a little kid. He would’ve loved the concert.
Overheard: “They’re just so good at music,” – my friend during Joe Walsh’s set.
Random Notebook Dump: SHOUT OUT to the pair of Norwegians behind us who casually travel around the world to see Bob Seger and Bruce Springsteen. Solid choices, guys.