There are soundtracks to movies, television mini-series, documentaries and more; then there are what perhaps may be the biggest ones of all; the soundtracks of our lives.
We all have them, songs or bands, performances or concerts that have influenced who we are, who we dated, how we evolved as teens; for many of us these music moments determined a direction or defined a generation. Many of these moments from the past still dominate our present; who hasn’t heard a song and been transported to another time in their lives? Who hasn’t cried, laughed or smiled when a certain artist’s music fills the air?
Bob Seger is an artist whose music has touched, influenced and affected people beyond the genre of rock and roll and far from the borders of his native Michigan. His music dominated this entertainment journalist’s soundtrack starting with the “Night Moves” and “Live Bullet” albums, then “Against The Wind,” “The Distance” and “Like a Rock.”
The Spectrum in Philadelphia, PA was an oval located on the corner of Broad and Pattison Streets; a multi-purpose facility which was home to the 76ers, the Flyers and more events than one could count over its lifespan. Those hallowed halls were also where one very excited young writer saw Seger for the first time, shortly after the release of 1982’s “The Distance.”
First level seats, good friends and heavy anticipation permeated the air as the murmur of the crowd soon turned to a roar once the lights went dark and a then raven haired Seger took the stage. The next two hours were an endless stream of some of the best high energy rock ‘n’ roll ever created. This wasn’t just a concert, this was an experience; one which saw Seger give it his all from the first chord to the final note.
If Bruce Springsteen writes songs for and of the, “Working man” then Seger’s material belongs to the common man. The lyrical content of Seger songs (“I used her she used me but neither one cared”) tells stories of youth, youth grown up, love, love’s lost, tongue in cheek fun and much more all wrapped in re-oriented blues chords and great piano licks.
After “The Distance” came “Like a Rock” in 1986 and another tour, another opportunity to see the now not so raven short-haired Seger; there may have been some snow on his roof but there was still a “Fire Down Below.” This time he opened with “American Storm” and The Spectrum was rockin’ once again. Bob was two for two and had indelibly impressed this young musician not yet turned journalist’s mind.
The Spectrum has since fallen and across the parking lot in its place now stands The Wells Fargo Center. On October 29, 1986 the ticket cost for floor seats of the above mentioned ’86 concert was $17.00; fast forward to November 1, 2019 and tickets had sold for 10 times that amount for seats in the second level. The reason for the inflation is simple; concert goers are gouged regularly by the industry, it’s become the rule not the exception but concert goers attending the last appearance of an influential rock legend are going to pay regardless the cost.
Seger chose Philadelphia to perform the last show of his “Roll Me Away” tour; the supposed last show of the 74 year old rocker’s road career. The building was a buzz from top to bottom with the same anticipation oozing from the decidedly older crowd; many of whom were former Spectrum denizens discussing ghosts of Seger concerts past.
Now it would be easy for this space to continue to wax poetic or like several others post the final set list with rave reviews of what truly was a spectacular show, or perhaps go on and on about his energy level but this fan will take a different route: Thank you Bob Seger; thanks for the memories, thanks for turning up the car stereo for more than four decades. Thanks for being there during good times and bad, happy and sad and for inspiring this musician to new heights. Thank you for, “Giving every ounce of energy” away. Thank you for the music and the memories.
After a two hour and 20 minute set that included no intermission and two encores, it was fitting that you ended the night with “Rock and Roll Never Forgets.” When those last notes rang out accompanied by the thunderous applause and you left the stage, so did a huge piece of this man’s youth. “So you’re a little bit older and a lot less bolder than you used to be,” thank you once more “Ramblin Gamblin’ Man,” you’ve touched many, rocked hard and will most definitely be missed.