Bob Seger may have bypassed Winnipeg for nearly four decades, but he certainly made up for lost time last night at the MTS Centre.
Backed by the latest incarnation of The Silver Bullet Band, the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer knocked out a hefty combination of classics hits, rare gems, and beloved album tracks, as well as offering some new songs from his upcoming album.
Asides from a couple of large video screens and a light show, the stage was devoid of high tech toys, placing the emphasis on Seger and his band - deservedly so.
Consisting of 10 musicians and three back up singers, The Silver Bullet Band's lineup may have changed somewhat over the years, but they lived up to their reputation as being one of the best back up bands in the business.
Dressed casually in a black short sleeve shirt and jeans, Seger strolled to centre stage and opened the show with the one-two punch of John Hiatt's "Detroit Made" and Otis Clay's "Tryin' to Live My Life Without You."
Though technically an old age pensioner, the 67-year-old Lincoln Park, Michigan native clearly still enjoys performing and happily rocked out with the crowd and fellow bandmembers throughout the night, working the stage from end to end.
Next up came back to back tracks from Seger's classic 1976 studio album "Night Moves," which included the rocker "The Fire Down Below" and his mid-tempo acoustic hit "Mainstreet," which hit No. 1 in Canada in 1977.
Though not quite possessing the ferocity or vocal range of his heyday, Seger's voice still has plenty of soul and his huge back catalogue of hits, which contains nearly as many ballads as rock n' roll tunes, allowed the veteran musician to pace himself by playing seated when performing acoustic guitar and piano numbers.
Seger's 1979 hit "Old Time Rock and Roll" made an early appearance in the setlist. Though he sings the classic rock staple in a lower key these days, it still packed plenty of punch and earned Seger his first standing ovation of the night.
Noting that he was releasing his new studio album in August, his long awaited follow-up to 2006’s “Face the Promise," Seger treated the crowd to a brand new original song titled “All The Roads,” a catchy, medium-tempo number, driven by Seger on acoustic guitar.
Other highlights of the night included lesser-played live cuts, including his 1969 single "Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man, " 1975's “Beautiful Loser,” a cover of Woody Guthrie’s “California Stars” “and, making its first setlist appearance in 17 years – his 1986 hit “Like a Rock.”
Changing to a black t-shirt and fresh black headband, the rocker rolled out the hits in the home stretch, sitting at the piano for his 1978 power ballad "We've Got Tonight," which he said was inspired by a scene with Robert Redford in his movie "The Sting," followed by Alto Reed's instantly recognizable sax intro to Seger's haunting ode to the road, "Turn the Page."
Moving back to the centre stage, and offering a caution for the guys to "hide their credit cards,” Seger wrapped the initial set with a pair of rockers, 1977’s "Sunspot Baby” and 1975's "Katmandu."
He returned for two encores, which included 1980’s "Against the Wind," 1978's "Hollywood Nights," "Night Moves" and wrapped with the tour's namesake "Rock and Roll Never Forgets."
It's a tribute to Seger's huge back catalogue that he could afford to omit big hits such as "Shame on the Moon," "Fire Lake," and "You'll Accompany Me" without missing a step.
Seger's opening lyrics to "Against the Wind," seemed to perfectly encapsulate the mood of the night, "It seems like yesterday - but it was long ago." It may have taken him 39 years to return to Winnipeg, but during his 23-song set, his timeless music transported the babyboomers who filled the arena, back to those younger days when their spirits were "flyin' wild and free," as demonstrated by the shining eyes and smiles as they left the arena.
Dallas Smith opened the night with a brief but well received set, which featured songs from the Langley, BC native's debut country solo album "Jumped Right In."
Then again, it could have been the drugs and beer.
The tour's next Canadian stop will be March 19 in Calgary, AB at Scotiabank Saddledome.
See his official website for more details.