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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
He's 61, grizzled, growly and with a voice just as big. And a raucous crowd just loved it.
By SEAN DALY
Published January 14, 2007
TAMPA - Let's be honest: The best way to hear a Bob Seger song has nothing to do with big, bursting arenas or $40 concert tees. Instead, the growly Detroit rocker has always been the patron saint of drive-time radio, the perfect guide as we rattle home from work in our beatup rides, pounding the steering wheel to the beat, just enough money in our lonely, linty pockets for a cheap six-pack.
Many in the raucous crowd of 16,994 at the St. Pete Times Forum on Saturday forged their affections for Seger in very much the same way, growing up in the '70s and '80s, running against the wind, working on their night moves, you get the picture.
And now here they were. Here he was. All of them loud and happy and still young enough to rock.
Man, was this a fun show.
In order to raise his kids and be a family man, the 61-year-old blue-collar hero took a decade off from singing songs and kicking out the footlights. But now he's back on the road - finally - with a gone-platinum new disc, Face the Promise, and a bestselling comeback tour with his venerable Silver Bullet Band. And my oh my, weren't his fans happy to have him back.
You could say that Seger has always been the Springsteen of the heartland, the chosen navigator of all those wide open spaces and dusty main streets where a young Midwesterner can feel a little lost. Seger is a rich man now, with a nice big house in Michigan, but he never forgot his roots.
And he certainly never bothered dyeing his roots, either, as Seger hit the stage for his two-hour-plus show looking every bit his age, a grizzled, gray-headed grizzly bear in a black T-shirt, jeans and uncool glasses.
But the layoff only helped preserve his iconic voice, as Seger unloaded an opening version of Roll Me Away with a voice that sounded just as big as it did all those years ago.
And he certainly wasn't lacking for energy. Backed by his 13-piece band including a wild, woolly horn section, Seger unloaded hit after hit: Mainstreet, We've Got Tonight, Turn the Page, the latter of which Seger performed behind a piano, leading the crowd in a tingly sing-along.
Seger is such an eager, robust performer, he has the ability to pump refreshing life into songs you've heard hundreds of times. If you think you're tired of Old Time Rock & Roll - and if the sight of Tom Cruise gamboling in his undies in Risky Business soured the song for you years ago - that sucker flat-out cooked in a live setting, the very definition of "arena rocker."
Seger took a quick intermission - perhaps to refresh his likably dorky headband? - and returned with just as much fire.
He played and played, oldie after goodie, long into the night. After all, the man had a lot of catching up to do.
Sean Daly can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8467. His blog is at blogs.tampabay.com/popmusic.