I Had A Frampton Flash Forward!

Sometimes our interest is piqued by curiosity, the unknown or the simplistic want of adding to our own internal Rolodex of knowledge.  Our interest can also be heightened by something we already know and are comfortably familiar with.  Where real-life surprises can happen is when you experience something you’ve always known that completely amazes you at an entirely new level.  Something that so exceeds your expectations you feel the need to tell people about it.

Last night at the Lynn Memorial Auditorium in Lynn, MA, I had a Peter Frampton flash forward.  It was like going back in time to see the future.  I was a witness to this old, weathered guitar God of the 70’s and 80’s up on a stage with his trademark Gibson Les Paul, his fingers moving up and down that fretboard with lightening precision, a band that was tight and very well rehearsed and a smile on this God’s face that reminded us all about the real reason why rock and roll exists in the first place.  Here he was, Peter Frampton, performing the entire Frampton Comes Alive set list, a knock down version of Soundgarden’s Black Hole Son and a spattering of other recent tunes, loving every minute of the chance to once again grace the stage with his unique, timeless talents.  You can easily tell he has learned many things about life on and off the road since those days when women drooled over his long blonde locks and bare chest.  He’s been through the typical rock and roll grinder and has come out on the other side a fresh, vibrant, meaningful performer on the stage that is once again his and at his command.

A while ago I wrote about seeing some of rock’s old-timers (performers and bands that were big when I was in high school) going back out on the road and doing shows.  Some of these bands shouldn’t have done that, but in some cases you could see where joy and the love of performing took the place of the need to make millions of dollars.  Some of these older guys realized after they, too, went through the rock and roll grinder, that real rock and roll is all about performing live and getting the audience to feel the passion for the music.  After you’ve gone through your alcohol and drug addictions, your crazy aftershow parties with the groupies and all the excess that comes with the ridiculous amount of fame accumulated many eventually realize why they got started in the business in the first place.  I don’t know if Peter Frampton went through that typical mess, but you sure can feel the genuine fun he’s having up on that stage.  You can sense that he’s just a regular guy, out there doing what he loves most and he’s doing it more than well.  He is a true spectacle that you’ve got to experience.

The Lynn Auditorium is a small venue of about 2200 seats.  Frampton could sell out larger halls if he wanted to, but these days he’s playing the small, intimate places where everyone gets to see his face and feel his music.  My wife and I had 13th row seats.  You could see the beads of sweat on his face as he rocked through his set.  He didn’t have twenty big screens up there, he didn’t have a million dollars worth of PA equipment.  But in a place like the Lynn Auditorium, the hall was completely packed with sound.  It was an acoustic marvel, really.  Evey subtle note played, every power chord struck, every vocal was clear and undistorted.  He has honed his craft and has tailored his tour to deliver one hell of a fantastic experience to everyone who buys a ticket.  We had 13th row seats and only paid $47.00 apiece.  That, my friends, is a superior return on your investment.

We decided to visit Kevin’s Bar & Grille just two blocks away from the auditorium  for our preconcert libations.  The place is a no frills little dump, but every patron inside was going to the show.  There were about 15 people in the place and we had an unexpectedly great time.  I bought a couple rounds of tequilla shots to break up the martinis and cosmos.  We had Frampton cranking on the jukebox.  We were like a little family, sharing our Frampton stories, sharing good laughs and driving the bartender crazy.  A great start to an even greater evening.  Thanks to all (I can’t remember all the nicknames I assigned to everyone) who added to the overall fun of the evening!

This year is the 35th anniversary of the Frampton Comes Alive album which is why he performs the entire set list from that album.  Frampton performed each song with precision.  His use of the FrampTone (the device he uses to “speak” through his guitar) is still the best anywhere.  The device itself has been re-engineered and modified several times since the album came out.  If you think “do you feel like we do” sounds cool in that song, you should hear him do the lyrics to Black Hole Son through that thing!  I was continually amazed at how tight his band was.  This was the second stop on the US tour after taking a couple of months off after finishing a tour in the UK.  The band itself was crisp, well rehearsed and mixed very well.  The one oddity of the evening was a mistaken double performance of All I Wanna Be (is by your side).  I don’t know how it happened, but it didn’t matter to me because I freaking love that song anyway!  To hear it twice was twice as nice!  Frampton played for three hours straight without a break.  He more than earned the money I paid to see him.

Having spent several years in the radio business, I’ve been to many, many rock concerts.  When I was in high school, if you weren’t at a house party on a Saturday night, you were at Cobo Hall, Joe Louis Arena or Pine Knob checking out Van Halen or The Who, the Stones, Ted Nugent, Bob Seger or whatever the biggest band was at the time.  I’ve seen my fair share of concerts.  The strange thing is, I had to wait until I was 48 years-old to see a show that will remain locked in my memory forever.  From the preshow bar party to seeing Peter Frampton up close in his real prime, that little auditorium in Lynn, MA put on a show bigger than anything you’d see at a 50,000 seat arena.  And you just can’t help but feel good for Peter Frampton.  Every person in that auditorium last night had a huge grin on from ear to ear.  None was bigger than the one on Peter’s face.

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2 Comments

  1. Thanks, Tom. It was really a great night. When we originally bought our tickets way back in 2011 I already knew the show was going to be great. My biggest concern at that time was whether or not we’d have to deal with mountains of snow, being the show was in February. It was warm enough outside to contribute to a great night, no snow (as you know, we’re getting the opposite of what we got last year), and great rock and roll!

    Thanks for stopping by!

    Reply
  2. tom

     /  February 5, 2012

    I, also was at this show and i will back everything up. best i have seen in many years, and i have been to many. I love my rock music and always will. I am 57 years young and would
    not hesitate to see PETER again, a TRUE legend. GREAT,GREAT ,GREAT SHOW!!!!

    Reply

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