Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The J. Geils Band at the Beacon Theatre

Peter Wolf
While attending college in the mid 1960s in Worcester, Massachusetts, vocalist/guitarist John Geils led an acoustic blues trio called Snoopy & the Sopwith Camels with bassist Danny "Dr. Funk" Klein and harmonica player Richard “Magic Dick” Salwitz. In 1967, the trio recruited drummer Stephen Jo Bladd and Bronx-born singer Peter Blankenfeld, known professionally as Peter Wolf. They became the rocking J. Geils Blues Band, later dropping the word "Blues" from the band name. The following year, keyboardist Seth Justman joined the J. Geils Band. Since its initial break-up in 1985, the J. Geils Band several times has reunited briefly, beginning in 1999, but has not recorded new songs. The band presently consists of Wolf, Dick, Justman and Klein, with additional hired musicians for live shows.

Headlining a New York concert for the first time in more than 30 years, the J. Geils band stormed the Beacon Theatre with its 1970s rhythm & blues, pop and rock blend. The band opened its 90-minute set with a revue-styled instrumental, highlighting Dick on the harmonica as a lead instrument. Wolf then came onstage and both started and later ended with songs from the band's 1970 debut album; the band played seven of the 11 songs from that album during the 22-song set. Drawing from seven of the band's 12 studio albums, Wolf and the nine-piece band performed familiar originals and obscure blues and soul songs. Yet it was the integrity and the energy of the show that made it a grand comeback for the veteran musicians. Even as the 69-year-old Wolf seemed to grow a bit winded, the quick-moving and hyper-jiving front man still poured more octane into his performance than is ever found in classic rock bands. Tonight's high-energy set was very much like the shows the J. Geils Band performed some 35 years ago, and even without Geils and Bladd in the current line-up, the show retreaded 22 timeless treasures to great effect.

Visit the J.Geils Band at www.jgeilsband.net.