October 4, 2019 – After more than fifty years as a professional, first as lead guitarist with Humble Pie and then as a solo performer, Peter Frampton has enjoyed a level of success few can match. His “Frampton Comes Alive” album, released in 1976 made him a mega-star. The album showcased his amazing talent on the guitar as well as a clean, radio-friendly voice. Combining the tried and true combination of a Gibson Les Paul played through Marshall amps, his Leslie speaker-warbled tone and jazz-influenced solos turned listeners heads. Because of a recently diagnosed medical condition Frampton has decided to say farewell with one final tour.
Recently Peter disclosed that he was suffering from Inclusion Body Myositis, a progressive muscle disorder. He first suspected something might be wrong when he found that he couldn’t lift his arms above his shoulders. A visit to the doctor a short time later and he was diagnosed with the disease. Frampton decided that he wanted to go out on top and tour for a final time before the disease progressed to the point where he couldn’t play at the level he set for himself. Because he is an admitted perfectionist, he didn’t want his fans to think he’d lost it. I can tell you for a fact: at this point in time he hasn’t. A recent trip to see him in concert at New York’s Madison Square Garden was proof.
Being a guitar geek, I had never seen Frampton live before but always wanted to. Certain songs of his stick in my head besides “Do You Feel Like We Do?” or “Show Me the Way”, though those are great songs. I made the train trip to New York’s Penn Station where “The Garden” is located directly above it. In case you’ve never been there, MSG is a great place to see a concert. Because the seating is more or less in the round, there really isn’t a bad seat in the house (though it is configured for hockey and basketball so floor seating is oblong.) I saw Kiss there once in the very last row on the third level and it was still a great view of the stage.
Frampton came on about 8:30PM and opened up with one of my favorites – “Baby (Something’s Happening.)” This medium tempo song with a blues groove immediately got the crowd going, including myself. His lead guitar playing at the end of each chorus just cements the song in your mind. Peter has a distinctive tone, as so many of the greats do. When you hear that guitar, you know who’s playing it. Even with the Leslie effect, his tone breaks through. On this night Peter was promoting his new album – “Just Blues” and it was a treat to hear Peter play several of the blues numbers in addition to his famous hits. Blues numbers Included the Ray Charles hit “Georgia on My Mind’, “Me and My Guitar” (Freddy King) and “Same Old Blues” (King.) In a bit of a twist, he also covered Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun”, done as an instrumental. YouTuber Jim Powers recorded Frampton doing his version of the Soundgarden hit:
Of course he performed his hits: the obligatory “Show Me…”, “Baby, I Love Your Way” and “Do You Feel…” as well as the Humble Pie hit “I Don’t Need No Doctor.”
Frampton concluded the show with an instrumental version of the Beatles’ hit “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” Throughout the concert he told stories between musical interludes of how the songs came to be. Peter likes to interact with the audience. If you’ve ever been to a concert and the band/artist just goes from one song to the next, making no attempt to connect with the audience, you can appreciate that fact that Peter does, and they respond. He did request that people only record the first three songs of the concert on their phones so that they, and he, could live in the moment. There was no elaborate stage show or pyrotechnics, just Peter and his band rocking the house. Being that this is to be his last concert tour, if you have never seen him or haven’t seen him lately I would encourage you to do so. He is truly one of a kind.
The set list can be found here.
What’s your favorite Peter Frampton song?