Review by Pete Mason
Photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk
Rock legend Peter Frampton brought his tour to the Palace Theatre Friday night sharing his catalog with an audience from 1976 that grew up listening to “Frampton Comes Alive!” In the 35th year since the seminal classic rock album was released, his legend has been cemented over generations since the album’s debut and reaffirmed with his 2007 Grammy Award for “Fingerprints.” It was a nostalgia night for many, including a great deal of those who saw the original tour for this album; a sit-down show with photos of Frampton in this glory days, not the shorn, balding, white-hair self on stage. But does he still have it? Indeed, he does.
Taking the stage at 7:30pm, Frampton informed fans “We’re going to play the entire ‘Frampton Comes Alive’ album plus more, and if you have to leave before seven in the morning, you will miss the show. We are turning into the Grateful Dead or Phish. Phish has an album called ‘Hampton Comes Alive,’ you know…” and with that the show began – although in truth, the show ended at 10:15pm. Frampton’s noodling was welcome and showed that he wasn’t mailing in the performance from quite early in the show. Delving into “Show Me the Way,” blue stagelights and a lone spotlight highlighted the rock god moving into a somber “Lines On My Face.”
Acoustic time with Frampton began with a little stand-up comedy and Frampton joking with audience as they laughed at their age and mutual lack of hair. Referencing 1973’s “Frampton’s Camel,” storytime continued, reminiscing about the song “Just the Time of the Year” that they played during recording of “Frampton Comes Alive” and featured on the album’s deluxe edition. An instrumental afterward played up the neck of the guitar and was followed by “All I Wanna Be Is by Your Side,” very romantically with a screen lit by candles behind the band. With his unshakeable British accent, the acoustic set was reminiscent of Steve Winwood. Capped off by “Baby I Love Your Way,” couples in the audience took a moment together as the ladies moved closer to the stage. Big Mountain, eat your heart out.
Overheard in the bathroom following the acoustic portion of the show, “Anyone else see him back in ‘76 but me? Sounds just as good as he did then. :crickets: God, I’m old.”
Out of the acoustic and into the electric with “Shine On,” an original Humble Pie song with a backlit video of stage lights. Then the coup de grace, “Do You Feel Like We Do.” Rocking into the open space with solos from Frampton and Rob Arthur on keys who took a meandering solo that was quite tight. “He’s gonna make the guitar talk,” an excited fan exclaimed while Frampton took his time, adding in a touch of Chicago Transit Authority in a Stevie Wonder-esque jam before collapsing back into the space of DYFLWD. And then, holy shit, his guitar talked! There was a nice jam through the first part of the talk-box jam. For one of the best rock songs ever, hearing this live changes everything. Frampton even went so far as to show the clip from his lone appearance on “The Simpsons” and humorously mocked his dialogue.
The second song of the encore, “Restraint,” with a stock ticker as the backlight flashing the words “thieves, screwing, you and me, power, money, take control, careless, self indulged, obey, indifference” and other Occupy-related words and one hell of an anthem. Stanley Sheldon – who has been with Frampton since his major album debut – was introduced with great fanfare by Frampton before the group slowly jammed into an eye-opening instrumental of Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun,” complete with voice box. This was a nice twist and a treat for the younger in the crowd, myself included. “I Want You to Love Me” turned into a full-on rocker. The composed jams in the encore blew away the rest of the show, despite the hits coming early. A wailing “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” was towering, while splashes of water streaked across the video screen.
On the way out, I came across a merch table selling three discs of the live show plus the original album, all for $35. It seems capitalism grew up with Frampton, along with a large and dedicated fanbase.
Michael Eck’s review at The Times Union
Excerpt from Dave Singer’s review at The Daily Gazette: “It was not a patient crowd. When he played unfamiliar songs, including an instrumental, the crowd fell to talking, texting, and yelling mindlessly. ‘Jumping Jack Flash’ offered little despite his hard work. But a 20-minute ‘Do You Feel Like We Do’ made the night worth it. While he fiddled a little too long on the talkbox and some of the riffs in the solo sounded corny 36 years later — though not the flashing of some jazzy statements — it was fun to see the man play one of the ultimate ’70s arena rock tunes. While Frampton achieved some moments of high intensity on his guitar, he never stepped over, always stayed in safe territory. It would be nice to see Frampton’s Level 11. His series of more recent tunes — including instrumentals — toward the back of the show was very good, suggesting where he is trying to take his music and showing he can still write.”