For the first and last time at the Spokane Arena, classic-rock icon Bob Seger proved that there’s still a place for that old time rock ’n roll when his “Roll Me Away” farewell tour stopped in Spokane on Thursday.
Following the airy harmonies and country-rock punch of opening act Wild Feathers, the 14-person Silver Bullet Band flooded the stage with Seger emerging and launching into the strut of “Simplicity.”
The Michigan-born Seger, joined by his ensemble, delivered a 23-song, two-hour marathon spanning four decades of music in a setlist that read like a greatest-hits track listing.
Seger’s take on “Old Time Rock & Roll” lifted the entire arena out of their seats with the same energy that compelled a dancing Tom Cruise in 1983’s “Risky Business” to accidentally turn the cover into legend and secure an early highlight in the show.
“This is the final tour, so I decided to pull out some songs that you haven’t heard in a long, long time,” said a seated Seger armed with an acoustic guitar.
“This is one you haven’t heard in 28 years, here you go,” said Seger before strumming into a cover of Rodney Crowell’s “Shame on the Moon.”
Later, “Turn the Page” and “Beautiful Loser” served as testaments to the tunes that first immortalized Seger in his breakout 1975 live album “Live Bullet,” which turned the Midwestern standout into a national fixture.
But if there was any topping the material from “Live Bullet,” it came from 1976’s “Night Moves,” which provided six songs and the final two encore tunes (“Night Moves,” “Rock and Roll Never Forgets”) on Thursday.
Those two encore selections hadn’t been played live in Spokane since the last Seger showing, a gig at the Spokane Coliseum in November 1976 one month before “Night Moves” was released.
A big part of why those same songs from 1976 can sound as captivating today are to the credit of the Silver Bullet Band itself, a mix of Midwestern award winners and Southern session professionals.
The understated mastery of lead guitarist Rob McNelley, dexterity of saxophonist Alto Reed and general virtuosity of the entire band play into the solid foundation on which Seger shows are built.
Decades removed from his high school experiences, Seger’s power to capture the pain, perseverance and promise of youth has remained as powerful as it has unrivaled.
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