June 13, 2024


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Live review: Peter Frampton at The Sound, Clearwater, FL 2023: Video, Photo album

There was a lot to celebrate this past week—the opening of The Sound venue in Clearwater, Florida, the beginning of the July 4th weekend, and Peter Frampton’s concert. I was thrilled to see him in concert because, admittingly, the last time was in 1981 during the Breaking All the Rules tour.

Yes, 42 years ago <cringe>. His Frampton Comes Alive album signifies junior high school, dances, parties, and riding on the school bus. “Do You Feel Like We Do” was about a 7-minute song, which was atypical for that time, but we didn’t care. We, little girls, loved the talk box, the whole rock ‘n’ roll allure, and of course, Frampton’s hair received a big thumbs up.

Frampton performed at the newly opened outdoor venue on July 2nd, during what could have been one of the hottest days of the year. The thermometer in the car read 96 degrees, and there was minimal breeze coming off the bay. The covered venue shielded most patrons from the sun, but the glare permeated across the stage as it began to set. Many held cans of Liquid Death (drinking water), which was available in the vending areas. The venue makes an effort to be environmentally friendly by providing bins for recycling.

By 7 p.m., the seated and lawn areas were filled with Baby Boomers waiting for Frampton to perform on his Never Say Never tour, which began in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on June 19th. Clearwater, Florida, was one of four stops on the tour, and no support band opened the show. At 7:15 p.m., he walked across the stage, holding a walking cane, and raised it above his head as the audience cheered and whistled. He sat on a chair near the front of the stage, and the four-person support band followed suit. In 2019, Frampton was diagnosed with inclusion body myositis, which can affect the leg, wrist, and finger muscles. For this reason, it is important to see him in concert during this tour.

The evening began with “Lying” and “Shine On,” a Humble Pie song (the album Smokin’ is my favorite rock album). “Nostalgia” was the evening’s theme as old photos of him and bandmates shone on a screen behind him.

He was very chatty and upbeat as he spoke to the audience between songs, including dedicating “Lines On My Face” to an old friend whose photo was in the mix (“he is one of the best humans on the planet”). He introduced the instrumental “Georgia On My Mind” (“It was 15 weeks on the blues chart. Hoagy Carmichael played in this in the 1930s in the corner of the bar, and you know the version by the great Ray Charles”). After finishing the song, Frampton decked out in a denim shirt and pants humorously quipped,  “Does anybody have a towel?”

Also, he relayed the story of “re-finding” his guitar years after it was thought to have gone down in a cargo plane off of Venezuela. The black Gibson Les Paul, which is featured on the cover of Frampton Comes Alive, was spotted by a guitar collector before it finally made its way back to his hands.

“The Crying Clown” garnered a lot of cheers, and “Baby, I Love Your Way,” brought a well-earned standing ovation. The typical lone guy screaming “rock and roll” and an inebriated man twirling a t-shirt above his head made me think, “Yes, I am at a rock concert.” Heads swayed as people sang along to the chorus.

Sitting back and taking it all in, I noticed how the sound quality at the venue was outstanding. Ear plugs were not needed as the balance was favorable for listening. Frampton’s voice sounded better than ever, and his guitar playing was superb. He never faltered the entire evening, and his virtuosity was apparent.

A couple of songs turned into jam sessions, such as “All I Wanna’ Be (Is by Your Side)” and “I’ll Give You Money.” The songs averaged over 15 minutes each.

As the sun set, the darkened stage was illuminated with spotlights, and the air felt cool. Frampton asked the audience, “Can we do the wave, starting with you guys” as he pointed to his left. He quipped about the next song, “Can’t Take That Away,” remarking that the pronunciation of the word “can” differs in Great Britain. He continued,  “I’m an American citizen. My brother said to me, ‘You sound like an American.’” He had the audience do call and response utilizing both dialects.

An instrumental version of “Black Hole Sun,” by Frampton’s late friend, Chris Cornell, was haunting as images of outer space beamed on hanging screens. Frampton put his imprint on the song as he vocalized the chorus using a voice box.

“Do You Feel Like We Do” was sublime, as many in the audience (I am sure) mentally time-traveled. Frampton ended the evening with more Humble Pie hits (“Four Day Creep” and “I Don’t Need No Doctor”) before ending with an emotional rendition of George Harrison’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” Many may not realize that he contributed to All Things Must Pass, although he is not officially credited on the album.

Frampton has always been touted for his guitar playing, and this evening’s performance served as a fine example. His distinctive and recognizable voice created a transcendental experience. My only wish was to hear “I’m In You” and “I Can’t Stand It No More” in the mix. Perhaps, next time, as I think Frampton isn’t ready to stop any time soon.

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