Susan Whitall remembers the day that Bob Seger played in her gymnasium at Birmingham Seaholm High School.
“It was the spring of ’69,” recalls Whitall, the award-winning Detroit music writer and editor of the new book Joni on Joni: Interviews and Encounters With Joni Mitchell. “At an assembly during our last class period. It was the Bob Seger System then, and he played ‘Heavy Music’ and ‘Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man.’ It wasn’t the best gig of his I ever saw, obviously. When I told him he once played my high school, he looked at me wearily and said, ‘I played everybody’s high school.’ ”
And because rock ’n’ roll never forgets, it also seems nearly everyone of a certain age who grew up in Michigan holds a similar, cherished concert memory of the Motor City’s working-class hero. Those flashbacks are sure to coalesce into wild, rapturous cheers of appreciation when Seger, 74, and his Silver Bullet Band come full circle to DTE Energy Music Theatre. The metro Detroit native, who has been in the music business for over 50 years, will perform six shows beginning June 6 on his Roll Me Away tour, billed as his last live concert excursion.
“At whatever point they stop this tour, I really do believe that’s the end of him touring,” reveals Gary Graff, the Detroit multimedia rock journalist and co-author with Tom Weschler of Travelin’ Man: On the Road and Behind the Scenes with Bob Seger. “I don’t think this is going to be like a Kiss farewell tour.”
Graff has seen the current show by Seger, whose last tour was cut short by a ruptured disc that required surgery. “It’s strong,” he says. “From all accounts he’s feeling good. He’s performing at a level you would want to see Bob Seger. You’re seeing a performer who’s still got it. And who’s still loving it. He’s having a good time.”
June 6-21. $55+. DTE Energy Music Theatre, 7774 Sashabaw Rd., Clarkston;