LIVE: Peter Wolf & the Midnight Travelers @ The Egg, 10/10/15
Review by Greg Haymes
OK, let’s just get this out of the way. I did not go to The Egg’s Swyer Theatre last Saturday night expecting Peter Wolf to launch into the vintage country classic “When My Blue Moon Turns to Gold Again,” a nugget that’s been recorded by everyone from Bill Monroe to Elvis Presley to Merle Haggard.
But I really didn’t expect for the band to take a left-hand turn out of Duke Levine’s righteous mandolin solo and veer off into a straight-ahead bluegrass breakdown version of the J. Geils Band hit, “Love Stinks.” For a few minutes there, I thought that perhaps someone had slipped something into my pre-show pino noir…
On the other hand, I didn’t expect Wolf to go out in the crowd and pull Hawbuckees drummer George Lipscomb out of the crowd and onto the stage to play tambourine on “Nothing But the Wheel,” either.
But apparently, even just a few months shy of his 70th birthday, the hot-wired Wolf still has a few new tricks up his sleeve.
Not that his 95-minute show was all that different from the one that he played the last time he visited The Egg back in 2012. After all, he hasn’t released a new album since 2010’s Midnight Souvenirs (although he’s been in the studio working on one for a March 2016 release).
That’s not a complaint, either. Rummaging through the wide array of roots-rockin’ styles from Memphis soul to rock-steady reggae to Nashville twang to bruising blues to flat-out rockers, Wolf proved once again that he’s not only one of the last great true rock stars, but he’s also a charismatic, consummate entertainer.
He fell to his knees during the second song of the night, the sweet, slow, soul-stroll “Long Way Back Again.” It certainly wasn’t the last time, either. And just two songs later, during “Growing Pain,” he leapt off the stage and into the crowd, glad-handing and campaign shoutin’ like a southern diplomat, as Chuck Berry would say.
And, heck, he wasn’t even 20 minutes into the show…
Along the way, he acknowledged a vast, diverse array of musical influences, name-checking Otis Rush and Merle Haggard, Mick Jagger and Gram Parsons, Keith Richards and Shelby Lynne, Bobby Womack and especially Don Covay…
But even at his most hyper, Wolf can’t do it all by himself, and his ace band the Midnight Travelers were top-notch all around. Even on just the second night of the tour (their first show was the previous night at Woodstock’s Bearsville Theater) they were hitting on all cylinders, from the sturdy but oh-so-versatile rhythm section of drummer Tom Arey and bassist Marty Ballou (on both electric and stand-up) to the stinging tandem guitar work of Kevin Barry (who also doubled on lap steel to add extra something special to “Homework,” “It Was Fun for a While” and the third of four encores, “It’s Too Late for Me”) and the simply magnificent Duke Levine (whose solos on “Growing Pain” and “Cry One More Time” were high-water marks amid a performance that set the bar mighty high all night long).
And, of course, just to be sure that he covered all of the bases, Wolf threw in a few non-bluegrass-style J. Geils Band tunes, too, including the rollickin’, show-closing “Lookin’ for a Love” and the final encore of “Musta Got Lost.”
So if you didn’t have a good time at this show, well then, you just ain’t got no rock & roll in your soul…
PETER WOLF SET LIST
Wastin’ My Time
Long Way Back Again
I Don’t Wanna Know
Thick as Thieves
Some Things You Don’t Wanna Know
Nothing But the Wheel (with George Lipscomb on tambourine)
The Green Fields of Summer
Cry One More Time
When My Blue Moon Turns to Gold Again > Love Stinks
It Was Fun for a While
Can’t Get Started
Give It to Me
Lookin’ for a Love
The Usual Place
When Women Are Lonely
It’s Too Late for Me
Musta Got Lost
A FEW MORE MINUTES WITH… Peter Wolf
LIVE: The J. Geils Band @ the Times Union Center, 12/2/14
A FEW MINUTES WITH… Peter Wolf of the J. Geils Band
A FEW MINUTES WITH… Peter Wolf
LIVE: Peter Wolf @ The Egg, 2/11/12
LIVE: Peter Wolf @ The Egg, 5/21/10