Frampton Comes Alive! is a must own music release of any rock fan and shame on you if you down have it in your collection. Peter Frampton helped to redefine the live album back in the 70s and after the success of his own, it seemed as if everyone was rushing to release their own live albums. Here we are many decades later, the double live album has been replaced by the digital download, our posters are gone from our walls and most of our hair (including mine) is a far cry from our younger days. With all that being said, there’s still one thing that hasn’t changed and that’s the fact that Peter Frampton can still play the guitar like no other.
The guitar hero made a stop recently in Raleigh, North Carolina at the Red Hat Amphitheater and served as the opened for another legend, Mr. Gregg Allman. Frampton took the stage as many people who were sporting Allman Brothers t-shirts were still making their way into the amphitheater. He kicked off his set with “(Baby) Somethin’s Happening” from the 1974 album of the same name and followed it up with a tribute to his dear friend David Bowie’s by performing “Rebel Rebel.” You might remember that Frampton played on Bowie’s 1987 album Never Let Me Down and played for Bowie in his Glass Spider Tour which was also in 1987. Frampton has credited Bowie and that tour for helping revitalize his career which at the time was in a slump.
Frampton mentioned that his next song had become one of his favorites to play live and went into “Lines on My Face” from his 1973 album Frampton’s Camel. It’s amazing how a song that’s over 40 years old can still sound better than so much “stuff” that’s flooding the radio airwaves these days. Frampton stood at the center of the stage and started plucking away at his guitar and many didn’t recognize the selection that he was playing. It was quite funny to see the reactions on some people faces when they realized it was Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun.” The song is almost all instrumental until near the very end when Frampton does the chorus using his famous talk box guitar effect.
The last two songs of his regular set included “Baby I Love Your Way” and “Do You Feel Like We Do” which received huge pops from the crowd and brought them to their feet. You could tell that a good part of the crowd was only familiar with Frampton’s commercial hits and there’s nothing wrong with that. For me, it just felt like they weren’t paying attention to the other amazing selections being played and instead were waiting on him to play the hits. I’ll get off my musical soapbox now and back to the review of the show. He did feature his talk box guitar effect again on “Do You Feel Like We Do” and the crowd went nuts for it. I have to wonder what Frampton things about that reaction even after 40 years? I’m not sure if the version that we heard in Raleigh, NC was 14 minutes and 15 seconds long like the album version, but it may have been close. It featured a pretty freaking amazing jam session in it.
Frampton returned for a two song encore which featured two more covers including Ida Cox’s “Four Day Creep” and “While My Guitar Gentle Weeps” by The Beatles. I had never heard Frampton perform The Beatles cover before and I have to say that I thought it was pretty brilliant and that includes his stellar solo during it as well. With that, his 90 minute set came to a close and it was a pretty quick 90 minutes in my eyes…….and ears. I tip my hat to Frampton’s backing band which included Rob Arthur on keys and guitar, Dan Wojciechowski on drums and Paul Peterson on bass. You know someone like Frampton isn’t going to surround himself with nothing but the best and I have to say that these guys were pretty freaking amazing.
As for Frampton, what can I say that hasn’t already been said about this legend? When he picks up a guitar it becomes more than just a musical instrument; it’s like another appendage to him and a part of his body and soul. He’s like a surgeon with his guitar and he handles it with delicate hands and with the same precision that a surgeon does during surgery. You know, I don’t think I have ever seen a musician smile on stage as much as he does. You can tell that he’s having a blast up there and that happiness is extremely infectious. The interactions between Frampton and his bandmates was very genuine; those guys were having so much fun up there and not just “going through the motions.” In a day of age of smoke and mirrors and style over substance, it’s great to know that guys like Peter Frampton are still around showing these acts how you really do it.
Check out more pix from the Peter Frampton show at the Red Hat Amphitheater on July 22, 2016. Click on the image for a larger view!