FCA35 Tour: An Evening With Peter Frampton
Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5 stars
The trend of classic ’70s and 80s ‘acts (re)playing their biggest albums song by song, as they and their audiences approach AARP status, may seem like a sellout to some. But when it’s done with the energy, enthusiasm and sheer talent that Peter Frampton devotes to 1976’s commercial highwater Frampton Comes Alive, it’s difficult for even critics of the concept to complain.
This double DVD/single Blu-ray captures the pop-rock icon in rugged form as he devotes the first part of the concert to FCA, but returns for over an hour of deeper catalog selections. Those span his career from the days in Humble Pie (“Four Day Creep” and a rollicking “I Don’t Need No Doctor” with Frampton’s son Julian taking lead vocals) to his most recent, 2010’s way under-the-radar Thank You Mr. Churchill. Included is a predominantly instrumental version of Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun” that’s as powerful and intense as the original. His four piece backing unit—bassist Stanley Sheldon is the last man standing from the 1975 band, the other two members have passed away and are memorialized with still photos– is slick, tight and tough. But Frampton’s guitar playing is a revelation throughout. He extends the FCA tunes, sometimes to double their original length, with fiery, passionate solos that are beautifully conceived. A lengthy acoustic section shows remarkable subtlety and ability to hold a boisterous crowd spellbound during quiet passages. He seems as invigorated charging through and revisiting the 35-plus year old chestnuts as the more obscure ones during the second set.
The comparison of the 62-year-old Frampton with his thinning gray hair and slight paunch next to the trim ’70s sex symbol projected on the backing screen is radical. But musically he’s arguably more fit than ever as he delivers a superb performance that will thrill fans of any age. (Note that the DVD/Blu-ray contains two complete performances from Milwaukee and New York only, but the accompanying three CD package– released simultaneously– cherry picks the same tunes from other stops on his worldwide tour. In other words, the hardcore fan may need to spring for both).