As lead singer of the J. Geils Band, and as a solo artist, Peter Wolf has always moved across genres as nimbly as he spins around onstage during his live performances. This past Friday’s concert at Infinity Hall in Norfolk, CT was a tour de force that included touches of country, rock, soul & the blues. Opening the show with “Long Line,” the title cut from his 1996 album, he & his stellar band The Midnight Travelers treated us to a fantastic evening of music. Wolf was equal parts singer, raconteur & storyteller, as he entertained the audience with between song stories about Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings & Tennessee Williams. The Williams story featured a reading of a poem by the celebrated playwright, as well as a performance of a song inspired by him, “Five O’ Clock Angel.”
The evening also featured covers of country classics like Lefty Frizzell’s “She’s Gone, Gone, Gone” and blues numbers like “Homework,” which Wolf recorded with The J. Geils Band and as a solo artist. He also delighted us by doing several other J. Geils tunes, including “Looking For a Love, Give It To Me,” and “Love Stinks,” which was re-worked with a country style and featured one of the night’s several sing-alongs. But the highlight of the show was Wolf himself. The singer was charming & entertaining, leading his band & the audience through every song & anecdote with humor, energy & rock star cool. At 67 years old, he’s still got the moves like Jagger, a singer he’s often compared to; in fact, he performed “Nothing But The Wheel,” a song he recorded with Mick, during the early part of the set.Other highlights included a generous selection of tracks from his excellent 2010 album, Midnight Souvenirs, such as “Tragedy, Always Asking For You, and It’s Too Late For Me,” originally recorded with Merle Haggard. It was clear from Wolf’s joy in performing and his telling of behind the scenes stories that he’s grateful to have worked with & met with so many legendary artists. He's clearly just as much of a fan of these musical genres as his listeners. The Midnight Travelers, Wolf’s powerful, talented backing band, were also an integral part of the evening, and were tight & electric, matching the singer's vibe & energy on every number. Their chemistry with Wolf was excellent.
I’ve long been a fan of Wolf, as a member of J. Geils and a solo performer, but I’ve never had the chance to seem him live until now. It was an amazing evening of music. Peter Wolf rocked, rolled, reeled, testified, country-ified, and soul-ified us with an extraordinary night of music. By the time of the evenings final song, the J. Geils hit “Must of Got Lost,” he left us wanting more. And isn’t that the mark of a great artist? I urge you to check him out if he’s in your area: if you only know him from his days with J. Geils, you’ll gain a whole new respect for him as a performer. I also want to give a brief shout out to Infinity Hall: this was my first show at this intimate venue; it’s a wonderful place to see live music, and I will definitely be returning there to see more shows. They will also be opening a second location in Hartford later this summer.
Here are links to Peter performing “Looking for A Love” with The J. Geils Band: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iRezwP_znTc&feature=kp, and “Tragedy,” from Midnight Souvenirs, with Shelby Lynne: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hbUg64zn5vM&feature=share.