Reviews

Peter Frampton

Steven Ward
Peter Frampton

Peter Frampton

City: New Orleans
Venue: House of Blues
Date: 2003-09-14
:. e-mail this article
:. print this article
:. comment on this article
If British journeyman guitarist/singer Peter Frampton's commercial apex was a 1976 live album, one would assume that seeing Frampton on stage might represent the ultimate milestone connection between artist and fan. In fact, that 1976 live album -- Frampton Comes Alive -- was the old record that popped into the heads of fans when Frampton broke out all his hit singles at the House of Blues in New Orleans Sunday night. Think about that for a second. Peter Frampton may be the only artist in rock history whose songs are known by fans from a live album. I'm sure the majority of fans in the club that night could not name the actual studio albums -- by Frampton's Camel -- from which "Show Me the Way", "Baby, I Love Your Way" and "Do You Feel Like We Do" originally came. It's O.K. That's nothing more than an interesting factoid about Frampton, not necessarily a criticism. I can't name them either. But classic rock radio has made sure we all know the songs. And all of them were played at the House of Blues Sunday night. Frampton and his band -- keyboardist/guitarist Bob Mayo, drummer Chad Cromwell and bassist John Regan -- started out the night with the first song on Frampton's most recent CD, Now. "Verge of a Thing" is a solid rocker that showcases both Frampton's guitar-playing prowess and his penchant for pop-rock light vocals. After that, the band launched into an '80s hit single -- "Lying" from Frampton's criminally underrated 1986 record, Premonition. But that's when Frampton's classic rock sheen started to get buffed up a bit. Like or it not, "Lying" was a sign of the times when it was released in the '80s. The recorded song was powered by a driving synth bass and thick and electric synth chords from session keyboardist Richard Cottle. But the live version only featured Mayo's minor sounding electric piano via a Korg keyboard. The sound was weak. "Lying" also suffered from Frampton either skipping lyrics altogether or being out of breath to sing all of them. There were vocal gaps in the song that made it all sound forced and uncomfortable. But again, the fans did show up to hear "Lying". They showed up to hear the classics, which is exactly what Frampton switched to for the third song. First, Frampton played beautiful and tastefully jazzy lines on his trademark black Gibson Les Paul. The fans in the crowd lit up as Mayo's electric piano followed for the mesmerizing introduction to "Lines on My Face". One of four hit singles from Frampton's Frampton Comes Alive, "Lines on My Face" is a true Frampton classic that deserves the attention it gets from fans. Frampton slipped in some other new songs from Now -- a truly great album and one of Frampton's strongest since the late '70s -- including "Love Stands Alone", which showed off Frampton's intense guitar soloing near the end of the song. Frampton's guitar playing is never show-offy like a Joe Satriani or Steve Vai. It's more of a slow burning flash -- like Neil Young's slashing away on his own black Gibson Les Paul. In fact, the only thing that bothered me about Frampton's playing on this song was that, while soloing, he was facing to his right -- toward bassist Regan -- instead of facing the audience. He did the same thing during the ending solo of "Lying". Sorry Peter, but I want to see you playing your instrument. It's a wonder to see, if you get a chance. By the time Frampton got to "Show Me the Way" and "Baby, I Love Your Way", the crowd was practically doing all the singing for Frampton. The versions were letter-perfect, as if someone were blasting an FM classic rock radio station from the back of the club. But by the time Frampton started blowing into the tube attached to his microphone -- a device known as the "guitar talk box" -- Frampton's radio friendly histrionics started to get a little tiring. The song and playing was energetic but Frampton squawked a little too much on the talk box, dragging out the effect and even calling it -- only half jokingly -- "a cheap effect." Still, the 12-song, hour and forty minute show was fun and I finally had a chance to see Frampton do what he does best: play the guitar.In the end, that's what Frampton should be remembered for.

Music

Books

Film

Recent
Books

'World War 3 Illustrated #51: The World We Are Fighting For'

World War 3 Illustrated #51 displays an eclectic range of artists united in their call to save democracy from rising fascism.

Music

Tiphanie Doucet's "You and I" Is an Exercise in Pastoral Poignancy (premiere)

French singer-songwriter Tiphanie Doucet gives a glimpse of her upcoming EP, Painted Blue, via the sublimely sentimental ode, "You and I".

Music

PM Picks Playlist 3: WEIRDO, Psychobuildings, Lili Pistorius

PopMatters Picks Playlist features the electropop of WEIRDO, Brooklyn chillwavers Psychobuildings, the clever alt-pop of Lili Pistorius, visceral post-punk from Sapphire Blues, Team Solo's ska-pop confection, and dubby beats from Ink Project.

By the Book

The Story of Life in 10 1/2 Species (excerpt)

If an alien visitor were to collect ten souvenir life forms to represent life on earth, which would they be? This excerpt of Marianne Taylor's The Story of Life in 10 and a Half Species explores in text and photos the tiny but powerful earthling, the virus.

Marianne Taylor
Film

Exploitation Shenanigans 'Test Tube Babies' and 'Guilty Parents' Contend with the Aftermath

As with so many of these movies about daughters who go astray, Test Tube Babies blames the uptight mothers who never told them about S-E-X. Meanwhile, Guilty Parents exploits poor impulse control and chorus girls showing their underwear.

Music

Deftones Pull a Late-Career Rabbit Out of a Hat with 'Ohms'

Twenty years removed from Deftones' debut album, the iconic alt-metal outfit gel more than ever and discover their poise on Ohms.

Music

Arcade Fire's Will Butler Personalizes History on 'Generations'

Arcade Fire's Will Butler creates bouncy, infectious rhythms and covers them with socially responsible, cerebral lyrics about American life past and present on Generations.

Music

Thelonious Monk's Recently Unearthed 'Palo Alto' Is a Stellar Posthumous Live Set

With a backstory as exhilarating as the music itself, a Thelonious Monk concert recorded at a California high school in 1968 is a rare treat for jazz fans.

Music

Jonnine's 'Blue Hills' Is an Intimate Collection of Half-Awake Pop Songs

What sets experimental pop's Jonnine apart on Blue Hills is her attention to detail, her poetic lyricism, and the indelibly personal touch her sound bears.

Music

Renegade Connection's Gary Asquith Indulges in Creative Tension

From Renegade Soundwave to Renegade Connection, electronic legend Gary Asquith talks about how he continues to produce infectiously innovative music.

Film

What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .

Music

A Certain Ratio Return with a Message of Hope on 'ACR Loco'

Inspired by 2019's career-spanning box set, legendary Manchester post-punkers A Certain Ratio return with their first new album in 12 years, ACR Loco.

Books

Oscar Hijuelos' 'Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love' Dances On

Oscar Hijuelos' dizzyingly ambitious foot-tapping family epic, Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love, opened the door for Latinx writers to tell their stories in all their richness.

Music

PM Picks Playlist 2: Bamboo Smoke, LIA ICES, SOUNDQ

PopMatters Picks Playlist features the electropop of Bamboo Smoke, LIA ICES' stunning dream folk, Polish producer SOUNDQ, the indie pop of Pylon Heights, a timely message from Exit Kid, and Natalie McCool's latest alt-pop banger.

Film

'Lost Girls and Love Hotels' and Finding Comfort in Sadness

William Olsson's Lost Girls and Love Hotels finds optimism in its message that life tears us apart and puts us back together again differently.

Music

Bright Eyes' 'Down in the Weeds' Is a Return to Form and a Statement of Hope

Bright Eyes may not technically be emo, but they are transcendently expressive, beatifically melancholic. Down in the Weeds is just the statement of grounding that we need as a respite from the churning chaos around us.

Film

Audrey Hepburn + Rome = Grace, Class, and Beauty

William Wyler's Roman Holiday crosses the postcard genre with a hardy trope: Old World royalty seeks escape from stuffy, ritual-bound, lives for a fling with the modern world, especially with Americans.

Music

Colombia's Simón Mejía Plugs Into the Natural World on 'Mirla'

Bomba Estéreo founder Simón Mejía electrifies nature for a different kind of jungle music on his debut solo album, Mirla.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.