Rock n’ Roll Never Forgets

We May Not Always Remember, but Rock n’ Roll Never Forgets.

Going to a big production like Bob Seger is not only pure escapism, it provides a unique opportunity to observe a mass of humanity coming together for one purpose. On Wednesday, March 27 at Rogers Arena in Vancouver that purpose was to hitch a ride down the road of our memories and party along the way.

I got the tickets as soon as they went on sale – great seats on the floor. I even got a parking pass for a no muss, no fuss, kind of night.

Coming up from P2, another couple joined my husband and I in the elevator. None of us knew what level to get off on. Fishing out tickets from shirt pockets, we peered closely at the small print using telescoping arms and finally resorting to glasses. This was to be a recurring theme throughout the night. We pressed a button and were on our way.

The doors opened to a crush of people that doubled in size around the merch table. Threading our way through, we made our way to our seats. To say we were shoehorned in would be an understatement and I realized that you had to get comfortable being smacked up against strangers for the rest of the evening.

There were a lot of dolled-up old gals and leather-clad balding guys, and I felt a bit underdressed in my jeans and t-shirt. We were a colourful lot, some more so than others. Case in point, walking down the aisle was a fairly large contingent of older men and younger women. At first I thought one of the girls was disabled and was wondering why one of the guys didn’t help her out. Wrong assumption. The woman’s gait was all off kilter for good reason. Perched precariously on what could only be described as “ho strollers” of the most spectacular kind, she quasi-sashayed down the aisle. With shoulders thrown back, pelvis thrust out, clad in the tightest pants and tiniest white top you can possibly imagine, she displayed a full sleeve of tribal design and other pumped up assets. Occasionally she slowed and leaned forward. The men behind me actually gasped. The group proved to be a sideshow unto themselves.

To my right sat a 65-year-old woman in a lightweight wool coat, skirt and boots. Her grey hair was curled. She leaned into me and asked, “Have you seen Bob Seger before dear?”. I said I hadn’t. It turns out this would be her 4th time. Much to my delight she was a walking Bob Seger encyclopedia. We continued to chat. “I sure hope someone twittering all the time doesn’t sit by me,” she says. “That blue screen disrupts my enjoyment. I don’t know why they don’t wait until after the concert to twitter.” I explained, “The purpose of tweeting is information in real time.” It didn’t matter to her. A young man took his seat next to her and immediately flipped open his phone. I smirked; my phone remained in my purse.

The couple to the left of my husband appeared to be very subdued. The woman was jammed into her seat, clutching a bucket of popcorn and a Pepsi like she was there to watch Lincoln on the big screen. Her partner stared stonily ahead, face devoid of expression. There were partier’s in front and partier’s behind – all ages.

The grey shirted security people were a big presence. As it turns out, I saw them haul away only one passed-out concertgoer, toes dragging behind him. He was what my granny might have called “fancy dressed” in a cream linen suit and Havana type hat that was all askew. For the most part security helped people who had trouble reading the small print on the tickets and the identifying tags on the chairs, find their seats and settle the occasional dispute over wrongly occupied seats.

The lights dimmed, the crowd was humming, electric. Joe Walsh and his band walk out on to the stage. The big screens on either side of the stage capture every movement. The crowd erupts into cheers. “Rocky Mountain Way”, “Funk 49”, “Life’s Been Good”, “Analog Man” and the music rolled on with Joe Walsh making the occasional apology to the youngsters in the crowd for having to listen to his music growing up, thanks to their parents. “It makes you a bit different,” he says, “and I apologize for that.” His guitar prowess didn’t disappoint and he kept his guitar techs constantly on the run. The rhythm rolls with two drummers and a percussionist. The crowed is primed.

With the stage being set for Bob Seger, people head in droves for plastic cups of $8.75 Bud’s and fruity coolers, bathroom breaks and merch purchases. The anti-tweeter lady leans over to the young man and admonishes him for disrupting her flow of enjoyment with his blue screen. The guy in front of me who looked like a skinny Colonel Sanders turns around and waves at me. “That’s how famous people wave, I’m not famous,” he says. “But I feel famous tonight!” He’s there with his young 20 something son or nephew and a friend, I couldn’t quite make out what he told me.

The lights dim, The Silver Bullet Band takes the stage. Bob Seger walks out and the arena goes wild. We’re on our feet. Seger looks like someone’s favorite uncle with longish grey hair, glasses, baggy black t-shirt and pants and a happy smile. He starts with “Detroit Made”, a John Haitt tune then the old hits roll in. “Fire Down Below”, “Mainstreet” and then “Old Time Rock and Roll” and the place explodes. Seger is now sporting a black bandana. The 65-year-old anti-tweeter lady jumps up with the loudest, “WooHoo, Aiyeeeeooo, whoop whoop” I’ve ever heard! I turn and look at her in astonishment! AWESOME!! She’s jumping; fist pumping, hooting and hollering. The kid next to her takes her picture with his phone. Even the good colonel and his kid turn around smiling and laughing, arms around each other singing, dancing, hooting. The guys behind us fire up a doobie and the popcorn lady looks like she’s been sucking on a sour pickle.

Bob Seger’s voice doesn’t quite hit the high notes but it still has that honey and sand quality. “I can’t do a show without a motorcycle tune,” he says and launches into “Roll Me Away”. It keeps coming, “Ridin’ my Harley against the BC wind”, sings Seger with a little change up in the lyrics. Through two encores, he loved us with his songs and we loved him back. Bob Seger is the storyteller of a generation. “Night Moves” and “Rock and Roll Never Forgets” close the show. In those moments the years melted away for everyone. I’d like to think it was the same for Bob.