Bon Seger, 65, performed for 2 hours, 15-minutes at kick-off concert of his new tour in Toledo on Saturday night. (Brandy Baker / The Detroit News)
Toledo — Bob Seger's arms were raised in victory as soon as he hit the stage at the Huntington Center in Toledo Saturday night, in front of a sold-out crowd of 8,205.
It was a pose the 65-year-old Rock and Roll Hall of Famer would strike repeatedly during the 2-hour, 15-minute concert, the kickoff of his first tour in four years.
Seger was energetic and in strong voice throughout the 25-song performance, which touched on many of his biggest hits ("Night Moves," "Turn the Page," show-closer "Rock and Roll Never Forgets") and hit on a number of lesser known nuggets from his catalog as well ("Gets Ya Pumpin'," from the 2009 compilation "Early Seger Vol. 1," "Come to Poppa," an album track from "Night Moves").
He paced himself accordingly and took a few breaks from the stage during the show, though the demands of the performance definitely caught up to him. "I've gotta catch my breath!" he said as he sat down at the piano prior to "We've Got Tonight" late in the show. "It's been four years!"
Playing to the home crowd by sporting a Toledo Mud Hens jersey, Seger —pumping his fists enough to make any "Jersey Shore" cast member proud —launched directly into "Roll Me Away" as he hit the stage with his Silver Bullet Band. He made small talk with the audience, commenting on the weather ("Spring is comin'!") and giving brief introductions to several of his songs.
"Here's a new song, you may have heard it on the radio," he said, introducing his newly released cover of Tom Waits' "Downtown Train."
There were a few first-night hiccups, including a moment during "Hollywood Nights" when Seger's microphone cut out. He tapped on it and motioned to the sound guy to fix it, before realizing and owning up to his own error. "I turned it off by mistake!" he admitted in the middle of his verse, and kept right on going with the song. Earlier, Seger introduced "Her Strut" as a song off of 1978's "Stranger in Town," though it's actually from 1980's "Against the Wind."
The show's pacing could use some ironing, as a 7-minute break 50 minutes in stopped the show dead in its tracks. When Seger returned he did so for one song before exiting, while his backup singers covered the Isley Brothers "It's Your Thing" — a song which easily could have filled the break from earlier. It's kinks like these that will likely be smoothed over by the time the show hits the Palace of Auburn Hills for three shows in May.
The best moments came from Seger's biggest songs: The always winning pair of "Travelin' Man" and "Beautiful Loser," the chugging energy of "Hollywood Nights," the timeless charm of "Rock and Roll Never Forgets" ("sweet 16 is now… 65!" he sang in the latter). The Silver Bullet Band (and the Motor City Horns) roared behind Seger, giving full life to the songs.
Seeing Seger in his element is still a treat, and he's kept his legacy in tact by gracefully bowing out of the spotlight when the time is right and never overstaying his welcome. Even without a new record to push, a Seger tour is an event unto itself, and he's earned the right to keep his arms — and his head —held very high.