J. Geils Band Comes Roaring Back

Boston Globe, 24 June 1999

by Steve Morse

(to the left - Lead Singer Peter Wolf was a dervish onstage)

The J. Geils Band with Toots And The Maytals at the Tweeter Center, Mansfield, MA

MANSFIELD - In this reunion stacked summer, no one has yet made a more compelling case for renewed acceptance than the J. Geils Band. The group tore the roof off the Paradise club in a sneak gig last Saturday under the name of Juke Joint Jimmy - and they did the same at the Tweeter Center last night in their first official gig in 17 years. Geils had left at their peak - after touring with the Rolling Stones and playing three sold out nights at the Boston Garden, where they solidified their role as the finest party band this side of Bruce Springsteen's clan.

Well, after years of indecipherable feuding, the party is back - as loud, as bold, as brash, as good as it ever was. The group ripped through a nearly 2 1/2 hour houseparty hootenanny last night before 13000 extremely happy, whooping and hollering fans. The Geils Band returns for another show tonight (some industry observers thought the group aimed a bit high by booking two shed dates instead of one), but a word to the wise: Do not miss this date if you need a night of complete, blow it out the tubes rock n' roll. What you see is what you'll get.

"Thank you for waiting. This just proved that you can never say never", Geils singer Peter Wolf told the cheering crowd. It means a lot to us that you came out."

The evening started with a soulful, Otis Redding inspired set of reggae / R& B from Toots And The Maytals, then the Geils band came out firing. They roared through "Just Can't Stop Me", "Southside Shuffle", "Freeze Frame", and "Homework", causing the fans to go nuts quickly. Wolf ran around the stage like a man possessed (no one logs more stage miles, with the possible exception of Mick Jagger) - and later jumped into the aisles on "Musta Got Lost", circling the crowd, leaping up on a seat to sing, and generally reminding people that showmanship is not yet dead.

Wolf and his bandmates - guitarist J. Geils, keyboardist Seth Justman, harpist Magic Dick, and bassist Danny Klein - have been fish out of water without one another, but that's ancient history now. This kind of chemistry deserves to be sustained - and lets hope they can keep it going beyond this monthlong reunion tour.

Unlike the Paradise show, the band wisely dropped the silly old nugget "Piss On The Wall", substituting the more classy ballad "Teresa". And this time they turned Magic Dick loose for a solo vocal on "Little Peach", and he handled the moment well. Old Geils faves such as the searing "First I Look At The Purse", "Detroit Breakdown", and "Looking For A Love", mingled with later hits "Love Stinks" (with Wolf mock stomping on a bouquet of roses onstage), "Sanctuary", and "Centerfold".

The set ended with the raging strobe lit "Houseparty" (with confetti cannons shooting into the crowd), before a wild string of six encores starting with the Motown bop of the Supremes' "Where Did Our Love Go", as Wolf passed a bottle of champagne into the crowd.The 11 piece band, boosted by two backup singers, the Uptown Horns, and new workhorse drummer Sim Cain, kept the energy going for another half hour of sheer, welcome back ecstasy.