May 22, 2011 at 1:00 am

Bob Seger hits emotional sweet spots at last Palace show

Bob Seger hit all the audience’s emotional sweet spots on Saturday at The Palace, taking them all the way back to the high school gym with “Rambling Gambling Man.” (Ken Settle / Special to the Detroit News)

Auburn Hills — Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band closed out a three night stand at the Palace of Auburn Hills on Saturday with a solid, musicianly show.

Seger hit all the audience's emotional sweet spots, taking them all the way back to the high school gym with "Rambling Gambling Man" (complete with the silvery "whoooos" of his estimable female backup trio).

The timbre of Seger's warm, effervescent voice is darker and huskier now, rendering "Katmandu" less of a shriek than a rumble. And while he's playing a 25-song set in most cities — a lot of singing for 66-year-old pipes — he keeps the songs short, with little vamping. But the voice is there, deep and resonant, hitting everybody in the gut when he draws out the word "sweeet summertime summertime" in "Beautiful Loser."

Seger aims to please, not wanting to disappoint anybody by deleting their favorite song from the "must-play" 13 or so numbers, but it'd be great to see him ditch a few mid-career chestnuts for either an unexpected cover version or maybe a throwback tune.

One of the better numbers, Seger seemed almost reluctant to introduce: "Days When the Rain Would Come," a song recorded in 1984, and included on the "Early Seger" compilation of a few years ago. "This might just kill the show," Seger said sheepishly, explaining that he was playing the song as a request for friends. But it was one of the highlights of the set, all the better for being a bit unfamiliar.

He shouldn't worry about throwing the audience a curve ball or two.

The "special guests" some of us heard murmurings about turned out to be Seger's two children; Cole, who stepped up to play saxophone with the Motor City Horns, and Samantha, who slipped in between Laura Creamer, Barbara Payton and Shaun Murphy to sing backup vocals on the song "Trying to Live My Life Without You."

The Motor City Horns put the Stax sizzle in songs like "Come to Poppa," and gave "Katmandu" the brassy kick it needs.

As familiar as Alto Reed's part on "Main Street" is, it never fails to please and has to be one of the best sax solos to gin up a rock song.

But as much as Seger hates amphitheaters, it would have been nice to see this show at DTE, with better acoustics. Seger's voice was down too far in the mix and there was a harsh tinge to the sound of the instruments.

To cap this sold-out stand, midway through the set, when Seger and band took an intermission, a large purple banner hanging from the rafters was uncovered, honoring Seger's 38 sellout performances at the Palace and DTE Energy Theatre (formerly Pine Knob). Does that mean the last?

Seger's son Cole Seger, center on saxophone, played with the Motor ... (Ken Settle / Special to the Detroit News)
A purple banner hanging from the rafters was uncovered, honoring Seger’s ... (Ken Settle / Special to the Detroit News)