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Seger, Silver Bullet Band play a fitting final show at DTE

Susan Whitall
Special to The Detroit News

The ancients practiced rituals to mark the summer solstice — in Michigan, catching Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band's last concert at Pine Knob (its old, Druidic name) is what we do.

It isn't Stonehenge, but the old amphitheater now officially called DTE Energy Music Theatre served as an appropriate site Friday for the rites to celebrate just over 15 hours of sunlight and the sixth and final night of the Detroit rocker's June residency, bringing his "Roll Me Away, The Final Tour" back home.

Seger and band hit the stage right at 8:47 p.m. with “Face the Promise,” wearing his favorite short-sleeved Adidas sport shirt, buoyed by the full power of the mighty Silver Bullet Band, horns and singers. Next came “Still the Same,” “Fire Down Below,” “Mainstreet,” then “Old Time Rock and Roll.”

Just as on his other June dates, he gave back stories on some songs, talking about how he wrote “Mainstreet” when he was 16, living in Ann Arbor, and how "Fire Inside” was about his two or three years of bachelorhood in the '80s. “Like a Rock" reflected his feelings as a high school runner, when he thought he was invincible.

Bob Seger and The Silver Bullet Band 'Roll Me Away - Final Tour' at the DTE Energy Music Theater in Clarkston, Michigan on June 21, 2019.

Seger seemed looser than on his opening night at DTE, because...well, he and the band have had weeks to work out the sound, and he knows he can pound out 22 songs before the 11 p.m. curfew, no rush. (He made it with two minutes to spare)

At one point, while about to sing "sweeet summertime summertime" in the middle of "Night Moves," Seger exclaimed "and it's FINALLY summertime!" 

The band was tight, driven along by so many great moving parts, it's hard to single any out. Craig Frost's keyboards are always a driving force behind every song, and guitarist Rob McNelley's solos were stellar. Jim “Moose” Brown is a double threat, on guitar and adding another layer of keyboards, while Memphis-bred Greg Morrow was a steady presence on the drums. Together with Alto Reed on saxophone and Chris Campbell on bass, and the Motor City Horns, they provide a formidable bed of music that Seger could count on for his diverse bag of songs.

For a sixth and final night, the 74-year-old rocker brought his "Roll Me Away, The Final Tour" to the venue formerly known as Pine Knob.

"Ramblin' Gamblin' Man," the oldest song Seger did, was transformed from a driving, punky song into a slightly slower but funkier (and age appropriate) rhythm.

As an astrophysics buff, he was clearly geeked to dedicate a song on his first encore, "Fine Memory" (from the Beautiful Loser album) to "special guest" Drew Feustel, NASA astronaut and commander of the International Space Station. "Oh, and I forgot to tell ya, he was born in Wayne County!" Seger added.

There were no gimmicks, no stage-hogging special guests, no oddball song choices, just a solid show, and some emotional moments toward the end as the audience erupted in several spontaneous ovations that seemed to surprise him a bit.

For the past few weeks, fans have marveled at the 74-year-old's energy and vocal power at these DTE dates. 

We can hope this isn't goodbye but rather, til we see you again, hopefully in some form, in a different configuration. That big voice may not be as pliant or wide-ranging as in his garage band days, but Seger has an even buzzier growl on soul numbers such as”Come to Poppa,” and a pleasing, emotional texture on ballads such as Rodney Crowell’s "Shame on the Moon”— and that’s a gift. It would be great to see him let loose in a more intimate setting. 

Bob Seger and The Silver Bullet Band 'Roll Me Away - Final Tour' at the DTE Energy Music Theater in Clarkston, Michigan on June 21, 2019.

The Silver Bullet Band

Bass: Chris Campbell

Sax: Alto Reed

Keyboards: Craig Frost

Drums: Greg Morrow

Lead guitar: Rob McNelley

Guitar, Keyboards: Jim “Moose” Brown

Guitar: Mark Chatfield

Backup Singers: Shaun Murphy, Laura Creamer, Barbara Payton

Saxophone: Keith Kaminski

Trumpet: Bob Jensen

Trumpet: Mark Byerly

Trombone: John Rutherford