As David mentioned in his recent entry, the site took the last week off from posting (which I totally knew about and wasn’t just procrastinating writing this show journal because I’m lazy…). Now begins the process of synthesizing everything that has gone down in the last week. For me, the past week’s events were highlighted by one of the most prominent names in classic rock – PETER FRAMPTON.
Sometime in early May I received one of those annoying emails from Live Nation updating me on all of the lame concerts they had coming up in the Carolinas. As if by some act of fate, I decided to scroll through the shows they were offering and was taken aback to see Frampton listed as playing in Myrtle Beach. I immediately texted my friend Melody and we both stored the date in the backs of our minds – July 19 at the House of Blues. I later found out that my family had planned a vacation in Myrtle that same week; I felt I was indeed fated to finally see the talk-box genius in concert. I convinced my brother to join Mel and I in attending and bought our tickets – with a stupid huge smile on my face – three days before the show.
None of us had ever been to the House of Blues in Myrtle before, so I was pleasantly surprised upon entering. I really dug the multiple tier layout of the bottom floor and the close knit atmosphere that it provided. Doors opened at 7 p.m. that night and we didn’t arrive until 7:40 p.m., so a sea of punctual baby boomers had already filled the floor, relegating us to the first elevated tier. The view wasn’t great, we had a pole right in the middle of the three of us, but we were able to see around it well enough that we posted up, bought our drinks, and prepared for some Framp.
Frampton and his band came out promptly at 8 p.m., which was refreshing in this day and age of bullshit start times. Before starting to play he joked playfully with the crowd, a common event that happened in between nearly every song, turning the lifelong fans and Framp-newbs to putty in his hands from the very beginning. I knew I could expect some great showmanship and even better solos from Frampton – in reality, I had no idea the degree of awesomeness that the show would reach. By entering the venue, everyone in attendance essentially signed a contract with Peter claiming that our faces were his – it was up to him whether he would choose to rip, melt, burn, or slice them off depending on the song.
The band proceeded to rip into material from Frampton Comes Alive!, playing the best selling live album of all time in its entirety as the night’s first set. As a proud owner of an original vinyl pressing of that album, I couldn’t have been happier. Frampton’s voice and guitar sound exactly the same as they did on the original record and if you didn’t know he once rocked a flowing blonde mane, you would have thought he hadn’t aged a day. Obvious highlights of the set were the often-played “Show Me The Way” and “Baby, I Love Your Way,” with Frampton breaking out the talk-box on the former for a noodle dance worthy solo that made me yearn to have been alive during the Seventies. A few of the lesser known tracks off the album turned out to be some of my favorite songs of the evening, notably “I Wanna Go to the Sun,” with its three-part vocal harmonies and driving pace that was reminiscent of popular Crosby, Stills, Nash tunes, and “Something’s Happening,” the set opener that saw Frampton throw down the gauntlet with some powerful soloing that oozed pure classic rock.
I have to dedicate an entire graf to the performance of “Do You Feel Like We Do?” There was a growing tension in the venue as the setlist creeped closer and closer to the track. When Frampton played the first two notes of the song, it was like someone took a needle to the world’s largest balloon – the crowd exploded into cheers quickly, then quieted back down to appreciate every musical nuance the band could serve up. The song lasted well over ten minutes and featured a blistering keyboard solo from Rob Arthur that the late Frampton keyboardist Bob Mayo would have been proud of. After Arthur’s solo, Frampton stepped over to the talk-box microphone and unleashed a four-minute solo of pure rock bliss, asking the crowd “Do you feel like I do?” in that unmistakable vocal growl. If Peter felt like a little kid who’s just been told he can eat ice cream for dinner, then yes – I felt like he did.
When intermission came, Jack, Mel and pushed our way down to the floor and ended up about 20 feet from the stage. When the band came back out, we initially kicked ourselves for not being on time and getting that spot earlier, then settled in for more face-altering rock. Second set featured songs from Frampton’s most recent albums Thank You Mr Churchill and the instrumental Grammy-winner Fingerprints, as well as some material from Frampton’s work with Humble Pie. The cuts off of Fingerprints were my favorite, as the instrumental jams showcased some terrific soloing from all members of the band and some complex time signatures and intricately arranged band interplay.
Midway through the second set, Melody realized she was completely in love with Peter and wanted nothing more than to time travel and marry an early 20s-year-old version of him. I started to question everything I knew about playing music, as his solos ran through modes and scale patterns that I’ve never once thought of. Jack was going super ADD all over the place and scat solo battling against Frampton’s solos. This old guy in front of us kept yelling “FRAMPTON COMES ALIVE!!!” as his wife cringed every time he started hippie dancing. Frampton provided all of us with some form of a life changing experience that night, and I can’t thank him enough. If you ever have the chance to go see him – DO IT. If you don’t, you’re missing out on one of the greatest guitar players of any era, capable of making any venue come alive.