J. Geils Comes Home

Boston Herald, 24 June 1999

by Dean Johnson

The best rock 'n roll has always broken the rules. Another one was broken last night at the Tweeter Center.

Forget what Thomas Wolfe wrote. You CAN go back home.

The J. Geils Band, Boston's prodigal rock sons, played their first official local show with singer Peter Wolf in 17 years.

It was all diehard fans could have hoped for and more than they should have expected.

The marathon set for nearly 13,000 clocked in at well over two hours and included nearly 30 songs from every phase of the group's long career.

The show began with a sizzling "Just Can't Stop Me" and hit the kind of energy levels from the getgo that most bands are grateful to scrape together for encores.

Magic Dick's slicing harmonica work and Seth Justman's gorgeous, greasy fills on the Hammond organ set the tone for the rest of the evening.

But Wolf was the glue that held everything together. He was the consumate frontman - a nonstop, shuffling, jiving, spinning, dancing, bundle of energy who never quite shut up...but then that was always his charm.

This was a time capsule concert right out of the '80s, not in the sense of being dated and moldy but in the same way a Stones or Springsteen show from those days defies the calendar.

There was a serious burn factor to most songs, whether they were early chestnuts like "Homework" and "Pack Fair And Square" or later tunes such as "Sanctuary" and "One Last Kiss".

Since this is the first night of a 13 city tour, a song or two such as "Southside Shuffle" was a tad on the loose side. Jay Geils guitar also needs to be more prominent in the sound mix.

But the right pieces were in place. Danny Klein was rock steady on bass, Geils is a tastier, less manic guitarist now, Justman does all the dirty work, holding the songs together, and Magic Dick's harp work is still a piece of unique musical art.

Most tunes had Tyson punch power. Two backup singers and the three piece Uptown Horns added to the mix. Touring drummer Sim Cain injected the needed percussion muscle.

Highlights included a potent "Musta Got Lost", with Wolf scampering through the aisles and beseeching the audience from atop chairs.

"Lookin' For A Love", "Give It To Me", "Whammer Jammer", and "Detroit Breakdown" all just whomped the crowd.


J. Geils Band frontman Peter Wolf has the best seat in the house for last night's Tweeter Center concert.

But this tour's success lies on Wolf's shoulders. Last night, he seemed ready to carry that weight.

The best rock 'n roll has also always been about sheer joyous release and reveling in the immediacy of the moment.

You can't easily describe it, but you know when you've found it. There were buckets and buckets of it at the Tweeter Center last Night.

Reggae legent Toots Hibbert and his band the Maytals opened with a half hour of his infectious blend of Jamaican rhythms and Memphis soul.

A sparse but enthusiastic crowd heard the ever dignified rasta soul man dig into groove rich numbers like "Pressure Drop".