Review / photos- Thomas S. Orwat Jr.
Lewiston, NY – Last Tuesday, rock ‘n’ roll’s #1 house party band – the J. Geils Band – along with glam-rock pioneer, Ian Hunter, closed out another great summer concert series at WNY’s favorite destination for music, the majestic Artpark in Lewiston, NY. This year was unique for Artpark, as the Tuesday evening concert series was extended past Labor Day weekend for the first time. Although the post labor-day date may have kept a few away, those that did attend enjoyed a beautiful late summer night, filled with some of the most memorable songs in rock music history.
The J. Geils band, formed in Boston, Massachusetts in 1967, features one of the most dynamic front men in rock music, Peter Wolf. At the young age of 69, Wolf shows no signs of slowing down. On this night, he rocked the stage like a 30 year old, dancing, and always in a constant motion. He is the ultimate frontman, and his voice is still spot on. Wolf had the crowd in a frenzy from the moment he walked on the stage, starting with, “Hard Drivin’ Man,” to the final song, “Musta Got Lost.”
In addition to Wolf, J. Geils also consists of longtime members, Magic Dick – harmonica, Danny Klein – bass, and Seth Justman – keyboards, along with touring members Duke Levine – guitar, Kevin Barry – guitar, Tom Arey – drums, percussion, Andricka Hall – backup vocals, and Catherine Russell – backup vocals. Missing from the line-up is band namesake, founder and guitarist J. Geils, who left the band in 2012, and waged a bitter legal battle over the use of the name.
The three-time nominee for selection into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and the “original bad boys from Boston,” played an effective set list that consisted of some deeper cuts for the die-hards. But they had everyone dancing in the aisles when they performed their big three MTV era hits from the early 80s- “Freeze-Frame,” “Centerfold,” and “Love Stinks,” each played right after one another during the middle of their set.
Guitarist Duke Levine was an effective replacement for guitarist J. Geils, his guitar playing was a driving force on and his impressive chicken-picking guitar riffs on “Hard Drivin’ Man” were spot on.
Although he may not look the part, bassist, Danny Klein, is a bad ass mutha-funker, and was the band’s unsung hero on this evening; his groove is infectious. Playing a glittery flying-V bass, he is one hell of a player, and provides the funk that fuels the party. He, along with harp player, Magic Dick, really shone on the band’s classic instrumental masterpiece, “Whammer Jammer.”
Wolf and the band, finished up their high energy house party with “Musta Got Lost” from their 1974 album ‘Nightmares…and Other Tales from the Vinyl Jungle.’ This was a great great finish to an amazing performance by a band that certainly deserves to be INDUCTED into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame.
Opening the show was Ian Hunter, at the age of 76, continues to dazzle audiences, and perform at a level that many half his age cannot. During the early 70s, Hunter played an integral role as part of the British glam rock movement, as the frontman of Mott the Hoople. With Mott the Hoople, which also featured future Bad Company guitarist, Mick Ralphs, Hunter had two rock radio hits with, “All the Way from Memphis,” and the David Bowie penned, “All the Young Dudes.” As a solo artist, Hunter had chart success with the 1979 single, “Cleveland Rocks,” which, years later, became the theme song for the Drew Carey Show.
On this evening, Hunter proved that he still has it. He played a short opening set, starting at 6:30pm with the hot summer sun shinning down upon him. Although, a good portion of the crowd was not there yet, Hunter entertained the enthusiasts with a predictable hit friendly set list, consisting of “Just Another Night” and two Mott the Hoople classics, “All the Way from Memphis” and the closer “All the Young Dudes.”
This was a fantastic evening, and the curtain call for another amazing summer at Artpark. But, with Artpark president, George Osbourne scheduled to retire this October, let’s hope that Artpark can continue to bring these great concerts to WNY next summer.
Special thanks to Maria Hayes for providing RMS with press credentials for this event.
J. Geils Band setlist 09-08-2015
Hard Drivin’ Man
Cruisin’ for Love
Just Can’t Wait
Serves You Right to Suffer
Pack Fair and Square
Give It to Me
Lookin’ for a Love
Where Did Our Love Go
Start All Over Again
Musta Got Lost