Peter Wolf and the Midnight Travelers – World Cafe Live – Philadelphia, PA – April 9, 2016
Philadelphia radio station WXPN called the night “Big Night Out,” and that is was, with an auction and a tasting of local craft beers. However, the biggest part of the night out was Peter Wolf, the former (and sometimes current) voice behind 70s and 80s boogie band The J. Geils Band.
Wolf had left the group to pursue a solo career in 1983, right on the heels of the group’s absolute smash album Freeze Frame. He had a few successful albums, even some hits as a solo act, but neither he nor the J. Geils Band ever came close again to the cultural ubiquity that they had captured in the heady early 80s. Wolf has put together an interesting and quirky body of work over the years, and in the 2000s he has periodically agreed to tour with the J. Geils Band (ironically, the only original band member who is no longer a part of the band is J. Geils himself).
However, now the band is the side project for Wolf. His real band is the Midnight Travelers, which plays on his recently released eighth solo album A Cure For Loneliness.
Now 70 and still looking fit as a fiddle (is it possible his hair is really still that thick and dark?), Wolf and his co-horts stormed through set of a romping bluesy rock. And Wolf pulled off a cool leopard print jazzbo jacket and sunglasses indoors much better than a man his age ever should.
Musically, the group was all over the place (in a good way), funk mixed with rock, party tunes knocking up on the blues, even a touch of country. Much of the show concentrated on more current solo songs, hitting on such lost gems as “Growin Pain,” “Can’t Get Started” and “Peace of Mind.” He also did a harrowingly lovely tribute to the recently departed Merle Haggard, performing a heart-tugging version of “It’s Too Late For Me,” a Wolf song which Haggard had duetted on.
Wolf did not want it to be a J. Geils hits show, in fact the first of the old songs to get played was a rather obscure old song, “Cry One More Time,” but the crowd still recognized it and cheered. Soon after, there was the 1979 smash “Love Stinks,” however, he played a newfangled version of the song as a midtempo bluegrass lament – which also appears on A Cure For Loneliness – making the song barely recognizable. For the record, it was a nice idea to play around with one of his best known songs, but the new arrangement doesn’t really add much to the tune.
He was more faithful towards the end, pulling out such early Geils scorchers as “Give It To Me,” and “Looking For a Love” (which itself was a cover of an old song by Bobby Womack’s old band The Valentinos.) By the time he closed out with a barn-burning version of the 1974 hit “Must of Got Lost” (yes, the title is “of” not “have”), the audience was on its feet and grooving.
He must have got lost, but his groove shows no sign of disappearing.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2016 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: April 12, 2016.
Photos by Jim Rinaldi © 2016