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Peter Frampton goes out on top, calling it a career in Concord

BY DANIEL GLUSKOTER

In an era where musicians routinely promote farewell tours to cash in on their riches, only to return to the road countless times shortly thereafter, there was a legitimate sense of finality to Peter Frampton‘s performance at the Concord Pavilion Saturday night.

The 69-year-old, Frampton, who first gained prominence as a 16-year old lead singer and guitarist for the British band The Herd, three years prior to co-founding Humble Pie with Steve Marriott, announced publicly in February that he had been diagnosed with Inclusion Body Myositis, a degenerative disorder causing muscle inflammation, weakness and atrophy. It’s a progressive disease whose symptoms include weakness in the wrists and fingers, as well as the muscles that lift the foot. San Francisco Giants fans might recognize it as the same disease that has plagued longtime announcer Mike Krukow, and seen it’s effects on him since he first made his condition public in 2014.

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER
Peter Frampton performs Saturday night at the Concord Pavilion on the final stop of his Farewell Tour.

 

Some four years after first learning of his own diagnosis, Frampton’s symptoms have become more noticeable. He’s fallen on stage and indicated that performing live is continuing to get more and more difficult. When announcing the tour, he said, “I’ve had a very good run. The reason I’m calling it the ‘farewell tour,’ is because I know that I will be at the top of my game for this tour and will make it through this and people won’t be saying, ‘Oh you know, he can’t play as good.’ I can. But we just don’t know for how long.” Not knowing how much longer he’d be able to play guitar, or perform onstage, he immediately went into the studio to undertake multiple recording projects along with plotting what will likely be his last big tour.

Dubbed Peter Frampton FinaleThe Farewell Tour, the final stop of the four month tour reached Concord with many fans of the beloved English-American traveling long distances to celebrate the end of an era. A businessman seated next to me came from St. Louis just to be one of the 12,000 fans that packed the Pavilion on a beautiful autumn evening. On the shortlist as one of the biggest omissions to not be inducted into the Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall of Fame, along with Jethro Tull and Ian Hunter, Frampton co-founded Humble Pie, one of rock’s first super-groups, in 1969 before starting his solo career three years later.

Taking the stage appearing slim but vibrant in a black leather jacket and blue jeans, the long flowing locks that helped him become pin-up material following the 1976 release of Frampton Comes Alive are long gone but the guitar virtuosity, golden pipes and passion to entertain at the highest level remain intact.

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER
Peter Frampton performs Saturday night at the Concord Pavilion on the final stop of his Farewell Tour.

 

Opening a 130-minute set that provided a near perfect overview of his 16 studio albums, Frampton took the stage to the first of many video tribute compilations with “Baby (Somethin’s Happening)” from 1974’s Somethin’s Happening, the last of his four early albums that would provide the bulk of the contents of his upcoming double live album that would change his life forever when it was released two years later.

The unheralded “Lying” from Premonition and “Lines on My Face” would follow, as the first three songs, along with Frampton’s engaging dialogue with the audience, stretched to 25 minutes. Paying tribute to some of his bandmates from the early days no longer with us, it would be indicative of the intimate storyteller role he embraced throughout the evening.

Another of the six tracks played on the night from the 16-million selling Frampton Comes Alive, “Show Me the Way” highlighted the amiable artist’s use of synthesizers to deliver the desired effect. Seemingly always smiling, Frampton began telling tales of crawling over bodies at Humble Pie’s party house prior to starting his solo career, before fast forwarding to deciding go into the studio to make a blues album after touring with Steve Miller last year. Actually, after coming to grips with his illness, he went into his Nashville studio and made 3 1/2 albums, a creative burst of energy motivated by his desire to record as much music as he can while his affliction will still allow it.

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER
Peter Frampton performs Saturday night at the Concord Pavilion on the final stop of his Farewell Tour.

 

The first to be released, All Blues, has hovered near the top of the blues charts since it dropped in June, and it provided the birthplace of the set’s next trio of songs. An instrumental cover of Hoagy Carmichael’s “Georgia (On My Mind)” and the Freddie King songs “Me and My Guitar” and “Same Old Blues” fit nicely in the middle of show while also ably demonstrating Frampton’s natural ability both as a blues guitarist and vocalist.

After returning to rock with the title track of 1981’s Breaking All the Rules, Frampton detailed how he reached out to fellow musicians including Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts of the Rolling Stones to assist him in recording 2005’s fully instrumental Fingertips. The resulting album earned him a Grammy for best instrumental album of the year, and yielded a beautiful cover of Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun” which he dedicated to Chris Cornell prior to concluding the song with voice box vocals as an image of Cornell flashed on the video monitor behind the stage.

Still, the best was yet to come. The infectious groove and guitar pyrotechnics of “(I’ll Give You) Money” set the stage for Frampton to return to storyteller mode while introducing “Baby, I Love Your Way” and its memorable hooks that dominated radio waves. A 15-minute version of “Do You Feel Like We Do” insured that any of the few members of the crowd still seated would be on their feet for the remainder of the evening, ecstatic and singing along as the band left the stage for a moment before returning for an electrifying three song encore.

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER
Peter Frampton salutes the crowd Saturday night at the Concord Pavilion on the final stop of his Farewell Tour.

 

Digging deeply into his roots for “Four Day Creep” and “ I Don’t Need No Doctor,” a pair of Humble Pie tracks from their epic 1971 live album Rockin’ The Fillmore, before closing out the evening, and perhaps his touring career, with a rousing performance of The Beatles “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” the fervor in the audience reached near manic proportions. As a joyous Frampton invited the entire cast of his behind the scenes personnel to join him onstage one last time, resulting in an endless series of hugs and embraces, he spoke to the crowd of it’s inspiration healing him. It would be the only time all night that he referenced his illness.

Peter Frampton’s setlist on October 12, 2019 at the Concord Pavilion:

    1. Baby (Somethin’s Happening)
    2. Lying
    3. Lines on My Face
    4. Show Me the Way
    5. The Lodger
    6. Georgia (On My Mind)
    7. Me and My Guitar
    8. Same Old Blues
    9. Breaking All the Rules
    10. Black Hole Sun
    11. (I’ll Give You) Money
    12. Baby, I Love Your Way
    13. Do You Feel Like We Do

      ENCORE:

    14. Four Day Creep
    15. I Don’t Need No Doctor
    16. While My Guitar Gently Weeps

5 comments

  1. Just saw Peter at the Forum in Los Angeles, loved his show and his story telling. His son Julian opened the gig, then the amazing Jason Bonham and the Led Zep Experience played one kick ass set of Zep songs, then Peter stepped out to play… one of my best nights at a concert. Wishing Peter the best as I am sure we all do.

  2. Great review !
    Felt like I was there.
    Terrific photos !

  3. Great write up and photos. Glad I got to see him a few times, always enjoyable !

  4. Final show of the Finale tour in Concord, California. I am blessed to have been there in the first row no less just like my old Madison Square Garden scalping days in 8th grade where it all started. Frampton made a conscious decision to play a regular (= awesome) show and let the set list and the screen behind him say the farewells. I did not really cry until the next morning. I can’t imagine what he is feeling now that it’s over but I feel immense gratitude. My life would have been a completely different life without him. I believe he may even have saved it. I believe he knows how much he has meant to so many of us and I hope all the comfort he has given us through the decades comes right back at him whenever he needs it. There’s really nothing else to say but Thank You.

  5. As a guitar player and Frampton fanatic, I submit the following:

    This show was carefully curated,from the “Wind of Change” drum logo to the green Ludwig drum kit itself that Frampton bought for former bandmate John Siomos. Frampton employed all the key licks I’ve loved for years, starting with “Rockin’ The Fillmore” and immediately into the solo LP’s I bought one at a time and continue to savor to this day . . . When I say “employ” I mean these licks were just the known touchpoints at this show for a torrent, a veritable storm of great solos, fills, intros, outros . . . Frampton took lots of criticism in the 70’s for being “jazzy” with his leads, but I felt it was always perfect to the material, and rocked hard, at Concord. Frampton showed just how to marry that jazzy sensibility with heavier, bluesier, quicksilver riffing with an astounding ability not to fall back on cliches too much to present a long passage; I respect Frampton for sticking to his (Gibson) guitar guns and maturing as a top-notch player year-after-year. Best examples : “I’ll give You Money” , “Lying”, “Georgia”, and “Four Day Creep”. Astounding . . .

    The feel of those 1st 4 solo records for me approximates being alternately on a warm Caribbean Island and in cool London; not a bad feeling to have . . .

    Magnifico, Peter !!

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