When I was in high school we all loved Peter Frampton. Everyone had his incredible album, Frampton Comes Alive!. And I mean EVERYONE. Once I obtained my copy I played it continuously on my cheap record player. Forty-three years later I’m still spinning those discs on my somewhat better turntable.
In 1979 I was lucky enough to see Peter Frampton in concert twice. Since then I’ve seen him five times? Maybe six times? Possibly ten? I’m not exactly sure, but every time he’s performed in my area I’ve been there, including his most recent, and probably last stop here.
Earlier this year Frampton announced he’d been diagnosed four years ago with inclusion body myositis (IBM), a degenerative muscle disease that weakens muscles over time. With that diagnosis Frampton realized he may lose his ability to play guitar, or at least play well; therefore a farewell tour was in order. Honestly, if Frampton has lost some of his phenomenal guitar-playing skills not a soul in the packed house could tell.
Frampton played songs from his rich and varied catalogue, starting with Baby (Something’s Happening) from his 1974 album Something’s Happening, though most people will remember it from Frampton Comes Alive!. He continued with Lines On My Face, Baby I Love Your Way, and Show Me The Way, the hits we all know and love. There were also plenty of covers, like the amazing instrumental Georgia On My Mind, from his recently released All Blues album, and Black Hole Sun, dedicated to Soundgarden singer Chris Cornell’s wife and children.
Closing the set was one of my all-time favorite songs, Do You Feel Like We Do. Eleven minutes of pure joy.
But honestly, the concert wasn’t about song choices. Peter Frampton is well regarded in the music business as one of the best living guitarists. Even with having IBM Frampton’s fingers were flying on the guitar. His guitar skills are worth the price of admission; like a fine wine, he gets better with age. I was in awe the entire evening.
Peter Frampton is an entertainer. He regaled the audience with stories of people he’s met, the circumstances around how certain songs were written, even the history of the drum kit on stage. He fed off the crowd’s energy and love. And it was returned to us over and over again all night. If Peter Frampton and the music world are very lucky, his IBM won’t progress, and he’ll head out on tour again very soon. And if it’s at a venue near me you know I’ll be there.