December 13, 2006 at 1:00 am

Dec. 12, 1973

Bob Seger's raw music is strictly first-class

As long as there's a market for the kind of music that ignites and colonizes an audience with its raw power and gut level rapport, there's the good chance that Detroit's Bob Seger will rise to national status as a pop star.

Seger broke in during the high energy rock 'n' roll era (1967) and has since built up a loyal but small following, mostly in Michigan and a few scattered other sections of the country.

So instead of enjoying first-class accommodations like Cobo Arena that many of his counterparts do (most of whom have a lot less to offer), Seger has been traveling in the economy section in places like the Rock 'n' Roll Farm in Wayne where he performed last night.

The Farm is a bar with all the color and imagination of a warehouse and practically as big. The stage is too small and the tables are crammed too close together. In shoehorn fashion they managed to shepherd in about 400 patrons last night.

But Seger couldn't have generated more excitement in a legitimate concert hall.

He built his set slowly, beginning with relatively mild numbers like "Turn the Page," and "Neon Sky." He brought the program to a rousing finish with the likes of "Heavy Music," "Ramblin' Gamblin' Man" and "Lucifer."

He turned what started out to be a passive audience whose interests seemed to be torn between the music and the beer into a frenzied dancing throng with his snarling, growling vocals controlled by a definite feel for true rhythm and blues.

His band was adequate as a backup unit but failed to generate much feeling when they were allowed to strike out on their own. Especially lacking was a gymnastic saxophone solo and a duet between bass and drums.

As a songwriter his tunes are as stimulating in their primal way as his vocal execution. "Heavy Music," for example, should rightfully hold a hallowed place on anybody's program list and his last album, "Back in '72," is, in my opinion, one of the 10 best of the year.

It should be just a matter of time before the rest of the country tunes into Bob Seger.

He's just too good to be kept down on the Rock 'n' Roll Farm.