Bob Seger’s package of exclusive streaming debuts is topped off by a pair of classics from the Detroit musician’s back catalog: “Against the Wind” and “Rock and Roll Never Forgets.”
Bob Seger pumped his fists in the air as his 14-piece band drove home the final notes of a two-hour set.
Finishing the final chorus to “Rock and Roll Never Forgets,” he flashed a smile and delivered a jovial salute before disappearing behind the Wells Fargo Arena stage — a passionate conclusion to the last time Iowans should see this road-worn Midwestern staple on a Des Moines stage.
“Remember, it never forgets,” he bellowed behind a voice raspy from the night’s performance and the five decades of touring that preceded it.
And the thousands who joined him in saying “farewell” won’t forget the rock ‘n’ roll he brought them, either.
Seger played to roughly 12,100 old time rock ‘n’ roll fans Tuesday night in downtown Des Moines, the third show in a seven-month “Travelin’ Man” retirement tour from the 73-year-old Michigan native. He brought a 21-song set to Wells Fargo Arena, his first stop in Iowa’s capital city since playing the same venue in 2011.
Ramblin’ Gamblin’ in Iowa: Like Creedence Clearwater Revival’s popularity before him or John Mellencamp’s after, classic rock airwaves stitched Seger’s songs into generations raised in America’s heartland. His meat-and-potatoes rock captures the time-tested magic of small town main streets and summer romances; the kind of music passed down at homecoming parades and played awkwardly at middle school dances.
And, for Tuesday’s audience, Seger’s final show on that lonesome highway east of Omaha meant celebrating one more time the working class soundtrack that Baby Booming fathers proudly passed down to Millennial sons.
“Still the Same,” “Mainstreet,” “Roll Me Away” — each came delivered by Seger sitting with an acoustic guitar or hunched behind his microphone (the singer previously postponed Tuesday’s show in 2017 due to emergency spinal surgery).
He told stories between songs, entertaining with anecdotes on “We’ve Got Tonight” being his mother’s favorite track or his love for R&B influencing “Come to Poppa.”
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“Back in 1970, I wrote this song in a little motel, one of those kind of motels that if you open the door, you’re outside,” Seger said, introducing “Turn the Page.” “We recorded it in ‘71 in Oklahoma … and the rest was history.”
He dedicated his newest numbers to California firefighters (2014’s “The Fireman’s Talking”) and longtime friend Glenn Frey, who died in 2016 (2017’s “I’ll Remember You).
Wearing a black T-shirt and jeans, Seger brought to life “Shame on the Moon,” a song he said the Silver Bullet Band hasn’t performed in 25 years. He took the set as far back as 1968 with “Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man.”
He’d proudly pump his fists during jubilant choruses — “Old Time Rock & Roll” or “Travelin’ Man” — with the audience carrying his sometimes fading voice. The show didn’t offer the flash or bang some expect with an arena ticket, but a backing screen did showcase nostalgic images of Seger and the Silver Bullet Band.
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Des Moines never forgets: Closing the initial set with “Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man,” Seger and company returned for what would be a double encore (as one could only expect from a rock ‘n’ roller’s final run).
It’s in the double encore that Seger offered his career’s most celebrated songs: “Against the Wind” into “Hollywood Nights” followed by “Night Moves” into “Rock and Roll Never Forgets.” Rising again to their feet, the audience clapped, danced and sang with Seger as he belted “Workin’ on our night moves” — a heartfelt “goodbye” to Iowa’s page in his musical story.
“Thank you, Des Moines,” he said. “Thank you so much.”
Bob Seger set list
Face the Promise
Still the Same
The Fire Down Below
Old Time Rock & Roll
The Fireman’s Talking
Shame on the Moon
Roll Me Away
Come to Poppa
Like A Rock
You’ll Accomp’ny Me
We’ve Got Tonight
Travelin’ Man/Beautiful Loser
Turn the Page
I’ll Remember You
Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man
Against the Wind
Rock and Roll Never Forgets
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