On Monday, when rock 'n' roll fireplug Bob Seger played the Aud, an overflow audience turned out. While the house didn't include the limo crowd, it embraced just about everyone else:
There was the serious blond tot sitting on his parents' laps, wearing earplugs and peering at Seger through his little spectacles.
There was the girl with waist-length hair and her chubby boyfriend, who pushed his baseball cap around backwards, the better to make out with her during that one-night-stand anthem, "We've Got Tonight."
There were graying men and middle-aged ladies, boogying through "Give Me That Old Time Rock 'n' Roll."
And the ultimate in romance: There was, the girl next to me pointed out, a guy who was signing the lyrics to his girlfriend.
No wonder Seger spent the night smiling happily. The 50-year-old rocker wore his workingman's uniform of sweaty white T-shirt, Goodwill jeans and blue-collar leather vest. Bending his beefy arms, thrusting his fists in the air, trudging good-naturedly from one end of the stage to the other, he barreled forth with a hard-driving show of his trademark trucker rock, alternating big-rig grinders and wave-the-lighter ballads.
Watching Seger, you get the idea that he's proud of his age, his gently expanding bulk and even his belly. As he sang "Like a Rock," he paused to draw himself up to his full five-foot-six height (I'm guessing), flex his elbows and adjust his vest with satisfaction.
Backing him was a band from the best rock traditions. Seger featured a bass player with hilarious blond hair, a drummer who had played with John Mellencamp, a keyboardist from Grand Funk Railroad and another one from Little Feat. Dominating the band was a saxophonist who played flute, too, and -- could that have been a recorder he played in "Shakedown?" Also on stage were three back-up singers who looked like they belonged at an auto show and who were, face it, dispensable. (Except for their big moment, when they got to repeat the word "weary" in "We've Got Tonight.")
The sax man got huge applause, especially when he shimmied across the stage in "Horizontal Bop." But Seger, I suspect, could have carried the show on his own.
He lost momentum only in excerpts from his new album. Seger was never a supreme melodist, and he's not improving in that department. "Which Way," one of his new efforts, was all on one note and hung over the crowd like a cloud. Luckily, he was generous with his old hits, and the crowd howled its approval.