Live: Peter Frampton at Hard Rock Live, October 9

Peter Frampton
Hard Rock Live, Hollywood
Sunday, October 9, 2011

Better than: Reviving the Silver Connection.

While the list of aging musicians currently embarrassing themselves with attempts at recapturing glory days grows, Peter Frampton has developed into the perfect example of how a former rock superstar and sex symbol can weather the years with both grace and humor while still putting on a hell of a show.

Last night's performance was a part of a tour celebrating the 35th anniversary of the now octuple-platinum selling double live album Frampton Comes Alive!, which was recorded in 1975, released in 1976, and then found on the shelf or turntable of every single person on the planet who has ever bought records shortly after. Last night's show featured a retrospective set composed of the songs from Comes Alive! in the order of the original sets that appeared on the album, followed by a set of other selected favorites from Peter's long career, as well as some of his most recent work. 

A series of hilarious prerecorded public service announcements featuring the voice of William Shatner primed the audience for a night laced with Peter's unexpectedly good sense of humor. As Captain Kirk quipped about filming songs for YouTube with cell phones, the crowd filtered in, and just after 7 p.m., the show started with the original introduction from the 1975 Winterland performance that this tour celebrates. It would appear many were expecting standard-issue South Florida performance punctuality, as there was an alarming number of empty seats for the first number; however, by his second tune, things looked to have filled out quite a bit. Kudos to Frampton for starting on time, another pleasant surprise for those of us who still subscribe to the idea that start times on tickets shouldn't be an estimation, especially on a Sunday night. 

A fit and spry Peter Frampton immediately started in with "Something's Happening," and while the golden locks that used to occupy your Mom's daydreams are no more, his golden pipes remain intact. The second number, "Doobie Wah," features the first of the night's many perfect guitar solos, and with it comes the realization that rather than losing ability with age, Peter's guitar playing has become even better. 

As they continued through the classic songs of Comes Alive!, Frampton found himself at the mercy of his sense of humor several times, introducing über-hit "Show Me the Way" by joking, "This next song was originally released in 197-mmphahmmphah from a studio album entitled Frampton... as they call it at home, Me." The first appearance of the signature talk-box effect ushered an excellent response from audience members. The talk box would later bring forth the highlight of the evening, when Peter brought the now-warmed crowd to a boil via "Do You Feel Like We Do?" following an extended call and response with ace organ player Rob Arthur. Only after his famous appearance on The Simpsons was projected behind him did Peter finally have audience members coax the epic talking guitar line "Do you feel?!" out. Joking around with the effect, Peter does what sounds like a Daft Punk impression, some jazz scatting, and then still speaking through his guitar states, "I'm sorry... I don't know what I'm saying."  
The post Comes Alive! set was really fun for those in the audience with a taste for excellent guitar playing. Songs ranged from the slow-burning "Asleep at the Wheel" to the Pink Floyd-esque "Float" from his Grammy-winning instrumental album Fingerprints. An unexpected highlight for many expecting to hear only the Comes Alive! material was the raunchy blues tribute to his former band, Humble Pie, that was "Four Day Creep," in which he did his best to pay tribute to the late great Steve Marriott's trademark howl by taking what was Marriott's part of the song rather than his own. He also changed the lyric from "make the hair stand on my head" to "make the hair grow on my head" in yet another display of his now-trademark cheeky humor. 

The Frampton band performed in an absolutely airtight manner the entire night. Comes Alive! alum Stanley Sheldon held down his bass duties with ease, and the addition of guitarist Adam Lester is a welcome one as he brings out a visible level of excitement in Frampton during the harmonized lead bits in "It's a Plain Shame" and the epic dual guitar romp that was "I Wanna Go to the Sun." It was really great to see a legend and superstar not taking himself too seriously but still giving up the goods in every single aspect of the performance, and I for one was not bored with a single minute of the nearly three hours of music presented last night. 

Critic's Notebook:

Personal Bias: I'm a big Humble Pie fan, and a former band of mine used to cover Four Day Creep frequently. 

Random Detail: A woman was grinding upon her obviously much older man the entire set. That's three hours. At a FAMILY show. Gross.

Random Detail 2: Peter gave a very touching tribute to the two members of the original Comes Alive! band who passed away in 2004 via the projector screen during the one of the acoustic numbers. 

Set List

Something's Happening 
Doobie Wah
Lines on My Face
Show Me the Way
Wind of Change
Penny for Your Thoughts 
All I Want to Be (Is By Your Side)
Baby, I Love Your Way
I Wanna Go to the Sun 
(I'll Give You) Money
Do You Feel Like We Do?
Shine On
Jumping Jack Flash (Rolling Stones cover)
Asleep at the Wheel
Boot It Up
Double Nickels
Four Day Creep
Off the Hook
Black Hole Sun (Soundgarden cover)


While My Guitar Gently Weeps (The Beatles cover)

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