“Ain’t nothing but a house party,” Peter Wolf yelled to the older crowd at the mostly filled Times Union Center on Tuesday night as his band, the J. Geils band, opened the show for Bob Seger. More than an opening band, Geils set the place on fire for 50 minutes.
This is what the band has been doing since the ’70s.
“We’re going to blow your face out,” he yelled before launching into the next basher. Much of the original gang was on stage: Magic Dick on harmonica, Seth Justman on keyboards and Wolf.
They jammed their set without a moment between songs, moving through “Give it to Me,” “Centerfold,” “Love Stinks,” and “House Party.”
He dedicated “Detroit Breakdown (Motor City Shakedown)” to Seger. Beyond that tune, the Boston band has other Detroit affiliations, including recording some of their live records there.
He gave us a speedy version of the infamous introduction to “Must of Got Lost,” on his knees preaching, “Love comes once and when it comes you got to grab it fast and I believe I musta, I musta got lost!”
The energy didn’t rise or fall, it just stayed sky high for his full set.
Seger’s set was also packed with classic hits, but lacked the raw punch of Geils. Still, the great songs kept coming, the crowd stayed on its feet and the show stayed high. Songs like “Main Street,” “Old Time Rock ’n’ Roll,” “The Fire Down Below,” and “Hollywood Nights” can sustain a crowd on any night.
He pushed his new record a little, “Ride Out,” his first one in eight years, with “The Devil’s Right Hand,” and a few others, like “Hey Gypsy,” which he wrote for Stevie Ray Vaughn.
The crowd plopped in their seats for these, but that didn’t last long. Seger always came back with big ones, like “Beautiful Loser,” “Turn the Page” and “Travelin’ Man,” which he said was where it “all started” for him.
With five horn players, two keyboardists, three back-up singers and two guitarists, his set had a show-biz feel compared to the in-your-face wildness of J. Geils.
One of the best moments was during “Like a Rock.” We were reminded here that Seger can carry a ballad. For this he sat on a stool with his acoustic guitar, shut his eyes and dug in a bit. If nothing else, he has that knack for capturing the spirit of Lake Wobegon scenes, telling the every-man story of lost time and squandered youth.
“We’ve Got Tonight,” and “Turn the Page,” both ballads, were drowned out a bit by the crowd singing along, but he gave “Turn the Page” all he had.
Seger has a surprisingly jubilant, boyish presence on stage, and told 20-second stories before a few of his songs — he and his daughter toured the Northeast this summer studying the history; his brother is a firefighter in Arizona; he told about watching Eric Clapton in awe at a concert, and so on.
He played a Wilco cover, “California Stars.” “The lyrics were written by Woody Guthrie, which is pretty cool,” he told us. The audience didn’t seem to think so by the rush to the bathroom and from the rush to sit in their seats after standing.
Other big ones to affirm the cost of the ticket, though no one should have been questioning it at this point, included “Hollywood Nights,” “Against the Wind,” and “Night Moves.”
Wolf pranced around the stage, like a kid still. Seger, not so much, but he still had force behind that raspy voice — and he was not afraid to yell.
It was a good night for old-timey rock and roll. These guys dominated the radio air waves decades ago, and they have managed to keep it all pretty fresh.