It's been three and a half decades years since Frampton Comes Alive ruled the rock and pop charts for 97 weeks, and since that time the charismatic, golden-maned rock star has lost most of his hair and half of the band members that recorded the album.
But Wednesday night at The Civic the 61 year old Frampton showed a sold out audience that he's still got a sense of humor, his singing voice and a lot of life in his guitar picking fingers with a near three-hour set that began with the classic rock radio staple Frampton Comes Alive and ended with a mix of covers Frampton's music from this century and some classic Humble Pie.
Entering the stage to the album's original intro and a standing ovation, the stage setup was simple and unadorned. The band played in front of a large video screen that showed FCA era photos and included a montage paying tribute to the late original band members John Siomos and Bob Mayo.
Frampton and his current quintet (keyboardist/guitarist/vocalist Rob Arthur, guitarist/vocalist Adam Lester, drummer Dan Wojciechowski and original F.C.A. era bassist Stanley Sheldon) played "Me Comes Alive" as Frampton referred to the album, in its entirety though with a slightly different sequence. The bouncy pop-rocker Something's Happening set the tone for the first set with a smiling, friendly Frampton, dressed casually in a plaid shirt, jeans and sneakers gave the crowd the first of many blasts of his guitar prowess.
If there can still be any revelations for an audience watching an artist that's been around for 40 plus years, it was Frampton's soloing. Though he sprung from the British Blues rock era, Frampton emphasizes melody over flashy licks and speedy tricks. Sure, he whipped out some hi-speed circular curly-cues as he did during an old-school, standing ovation inducing dual with Lester on an extended I'll Give You Money and the second set's up-tempo instrumental Off The Hook.
But Frampton also played some lovely acoustic guitar on Wind of Change and Penny For Your Thoughts. Unsurprisingly one of the high points of the opening set was the "Me Comes Alive" album closer Do You Feel Like We Do featuring Frampton hamming it up and cracking jokes through his talk box.
The second set leaned heavily on instrumentals from the Grammy winning 2007 album Fingerprints and songs from his solid 2011 album Thank You, Mr. Churchill, including one of that album's best tunes, the ominous and groovy Restraint. Frampton also reached back to his Humble Pie days with a hard rocking take on Four Day Creep, cover of Soundgarden's Black Hole Sun and a set closing While My Guitar Gently Weeps, sending the crowd-whose median age was in the upper 40s, home happy.
Frampton may no longer have his curly locks, teen idol good looks and chart-clogging single, but all of those things are fleeting. He still delivers where it matters most, on the stage and through his music.
Peter Frampton Setlist (more or less, sorry if I missed something)
Lines On My Face
Show Me The Way
It's a Plain Shame
Wind of Change
Just the Time of Year
Penny For Your Thoughts
All I Wanna Be (Is by Your Side)
Baby I Love Your Way
I Wanna Go To The Sun
(I'll Give You) Money
Shine On (Humble Pie)
Jumpin' Jack Flash (Rolling Stones)
Do You Feel Like We Do
Asleep at the Wheel
Boot It Up
Vaudeville Nanna and the Banjolele
All I Wanna Be (Is by Your Side)
Black Hole Sun (Soundgarden)
Four Day Creep (Humble Pie)
Off The Hook
While My Guitar Gently Weeps (Beatles)
Here's a video from Thank You Mr. Churchill featuring Peter's son Julian Frampton