It wasn’t too long ago that I was waxing nostalgic for Bob Seger’s “Night Moves,” a song that’s always had a lot of meaning for me, and lamenting that he never comes to my hometown when he’s touring. Not long after that, you may recall that I included him on my “fantasy list” of musical artists that I’d like to see in concert, but probably never will because they are “semi-retired, unlikely to ever come to Utah, or really expensive/difficult to get [tickets for].”
Well, things can change very quickly sometimes, and opportunities you never imagined would happen can come out of nowhere. Which is a roundabout way of announcing that tonight I’m going to cross another entry off my wishlist (I refuse to call it a “Bucket List,” for reasons I won’t get into here) by seeing Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band at Salt Lake City’s own Energy Solutions Arena. As far as I know, this is the first time he’s ever played Salt Lake, or at least the first time since I’ve been paying attention to such things (which has been a very long time, considering I went to my first rock concert in 1981, when I was 12!). Also, this is rumored to be his final tour — he’s 69 and has said in recent interviews that he “doesn’t want to overstay his welcome” — so this one feels pretty momentous. Needless to say, I am just a wee bit excited.
To mark the occasion, I thought I’d post a track from Bob’s latest album, Ride Out. It’s his first release of new material in eight years, and his best album (in my opinion) since Like a Rock back in 1986, in part because of his unexpected willingness to risk alienating his core fanbase (which tends to skew to the political right) with songs about climate change, income inequality, and gun violence. (Bob explains his newfound social consciousness as “wanting [his children] to have a future and a good place to live” and says he’s going to be 70 soon and this may be his last album, so “better late than never.”) Don’t misunderstand, though, this album is not a grim political screed; it includes plenty of the rootsy rock-and-roll storytelling that is Bob’s trademark. Like, for instance, the single “Detroit Made.” It’s classic Seger, a celebration of the chromed-and-befinned marvels that once poured out of the factories in his hometown, Detroit, and the wholly American lifestyle they enabled. There is an element of melancholy in the video if you want to see it that way; with its nostalgic color filter and artificial scratches that make the images look like they come from an old Super-8 home movie, it reminds us that the days of classic Detroit-steel muscle machines are long gone, and the days of the carefree driving around on cheap, plentiful gasoline are fading fast. But the song itself is so relentlessly upbeat, so, well, driven, if you’ll forgiven the quasi-pun, that you can’t dwell too long on the negative. It’s a song that make you want to slip behind the wheel and roll on out… just like I’m about to do, with my Bic lighter in my pocket, ready to flick during the ballads:
Have a great night, kids!
[UPDATE: Turns out Bob has been to Salt Lake before; I’ve learned he played here on May 9, 1980. At that point, I would’ve been more obsessed with The Empire Strikes Back than rock and roll…]