My first exposure to the music of Bob Seger was while driving to Manor with my Dad. When the unmistakable piano intro of “Old Time Rock & Roll” would come on the radio, we would sing along.
For 45 years, Bob Seger has been creating timeless classics which people of all generations readily recognize, and now it is time for him to “Turn the Page.” Thirty-three years after his last concert at the Frank Erwin Center, his March 8 performance would be his last one in the Capitol city. Before back issues forced Seger to postpone his original Austin date, it was announced that this tour would be his last.
Fans, who have long waited to see Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band return to Austin, were far from disappointed. The crowd eagerly sang along to popular songs from “Like a Rock,” “Hollywood Nights” and the Bob Seger classic “Old Time Rock & Roll.”
Like the song says, “I reminisce about the days of old,” and he did just that. In between songs, Seger would share a story or two about writing those songs. He described how a feeling of invincibility while running cross-country in high school led to him write “Like a Rock.” Many fans were surprised to learn fun facts like “We Got Tonight,” is his mom’s favorite.
Before playing a cover of Bob Dylan’s “Forever Young,” Seger said he was dedicating the song to friends he had lost through the years. He specifically mentioned fellow singer-songwriter, fellow Detroit native and founding member of the Eagles, Glenn Frey.
As the band played, the video screen in the background featured images of legendary music icons such as Chuck Berry, B.B. King, Aretha Franklin, Gregg Allman, Leonard Cohen and Prince. There were also pictures of Bob Seger with his good friends and contemporaries Tom Petty and Frey sharing moments together through their younger years. What were once cigarette lighters raised in 1980 were now cell phone lights, revealing many emotional tears shared by the crowd. It was a very touching way for one musician to remember the friends he made through his musical life.
Once the band finished with the main set, they left the stage, only to be drawn back by a crowd who was not ready to see them go. Through not one but two encores, Seger and friends performed fan favorites “Against the Wind,” “Hollywood Nights” and “Night Moves,” before Seger shouted to the crowd “it never forgets” and ended with “Rock and Roll Never Forgets.”
The final curtain may be coming down on the career of a rock ‘n’ roll legend, but at 73 years young, Bob Seger gave the audience every ounce of his energy. While his voice may not be what it was a few decades ago, and the shaggy black hair and beard have been replaced with mostly gray, everyone left the show feeling as though they were treated to something special. He may be old-fashioned, and he may be over the hill, as he sings in that famous song. But for one spring night in Austin, Texas, Bob Seger reminded a sold-out crowd of why we like that old time rock ‘n’ roll!
Cover: Bob Seger shares fist bumps with members of the crowd. Photo Ken Settle