The J. Geils Band rolled into the Buffalo Harbor Friday evening as part of the Buffalo Place Rocks The Harbor Concert Series. The performance marked the band’s first in the queen city in some thirty years. The last time the band played in Buffalo was way back in 1981 when they played at Kleinhans. The band known for their live shows gave another inconceivable performance even with several members well into their sixties. In the 70s, the band from Boston were a staple in Western NY. Wolf made several references to Buffalo throughout the almost two hour show.
The band got the ball rolling with Magic Dick stepping front and center with harmonica in hand and charged into “Sno-Cone”. From there vocalist Peter Wolf appeared as the band started to kick it into high gear. When Wolf introduced “Pack Fair And Square” as the first song the band ever recorded, he also dedicated it to Ahmet Ertegun who was the founder of Atlantic Records, the band’s original record label. Wolf notorious for his fast talking quips on song intros, put on a performance that saw him move about the stage like a man half his age. Wolf appeared to be in very good voice as evidenced on the Geils classic doo-wop song “I Do”. Keyboardist and co-writer of much of the bands material Seth Justman displayed why he is highly regarded as one of the best. Bassist Danny Klein rounded out the original portion of the lineup as his rhythm partner drummer Tom Arey kept the beat going all night. The band also had a pair of background singers as well as the infamous Uptown Horns, who as Wolf mentioned were on tour with the band on the Freeze Frame Tour.
As the band broke into “Just Can’t Wait” the leadoff cut from their 1980 album Love Stinks, it appeared this is where the show really took off. “One Last Kiss”, “On Borrowed Time” and “Surrender” all sounded so fresh and had much of the crowd dancing, swinging and swaying throughout. Perhaps the best sounding song of the evening was “Freeze Frame”, as Wolf asked the crowd if they had any cameras during the intro to the song. While “Centerfold”, their number one hit, had the crowd singing along, it didn’t appear to have the bite one would expect and was perhaps a weak moment. However that was soon forgotten as the band immediately redeemed themselves on the exceptional universal anthem “Love Stinks”. What Geils show would be incomplete without “Whammer Jammer” and “Ain’t Nuthin’ But A Houseparty” to close out the show.
The band appeared short on time as “Must Of Got Lost” was omitted despite being played as an encore on prior shows on this 2012 Houseparty tour. Unfortunately absent was the band’s namesake guitarist John Geils as he chose to sit out the tour due to a dispute over the rights to the name of the band. Filling in admirably was guitarist Duke Levine whose playing was so good, some fans might not have known Geils was even missing.
Hard Drivin’ Man
Cry One More Time
Pack Fair and Square
Make Up Your Mind
Just Can’t Wait
One Last Kiss
Cruisin’ for a Love
On Borrowed Time
Give It to Me
Lookin’ for a Love
(Ain’t Nothin’ But A) Houseparty
Special Thanks to Jackie Jonmaire and Anna Loynes for all their help in setting us up to review the show.