Chicago Drive-In

Peter Frampton live!

| February 27, 2012 | 0 Comments

Peter Frampton 2/25 at Chicago Theatre

Like Linus who found his long lost blanket, Peter Frampton owned the Chicago Theatre Saturday night with his old pal and newly found 1954 Gibson Les Paul.

Back in 1980, the guitar was on a plane to Panama with other equipment when it crashed, supposedly destroying everything on board. It was a treasured gift he used in his Humble Pie days as well as the early years of his solo career. Lo and behold, it recently surfaced and was restored at the Gibson Custom Shop and put back into play for last weekend’s New York shows.

The show celebrates the 35th anniversary of his generational, six-times platinum Frampton Comes Alive. He may have lost his trademark long mane, gained a midsection paunch, and aged a bit in those years, but his chops and skills are still spot-on; a five-piece band, including original bassist Stanley Sheldon, complemented him well. Lead guitarist Adam Lester and Frampton dueled at centerstage on “(I’ll Give You) Money” as if they had played together for 30 years. If Frampton is hiding anything, Lester made it sound as if nothing has changed.

The only guy that worked harder on stage was the roadie responsible for switching out Frampton’s guitars after almost each song. He’s always been a little particular about his sound and constantly tinkers (even mid song), but this guy has a pressure-packed gig. For almost three hours, with only a short T-shirt-changing break, Frampton played the full album, some recent stuff (plugging his 2010 release Thank You Mr. Churchill) along with some of his Humble Pie favorites. Keeping track and tuning that trailer full of guitars, makes that roadie earn his pay.

Frampton has evolved into a storyteller. He interacted well with the audience bringing them into his world at times as if everyone was just hanging out. On “Feel Like I Do” and working his famous talkbox, he played and goofed around as if he just figured this thing out yesterday. With flashes of his youth on a video board behind him it was, at times watching a life unfold.

He is a rambling jam that seems to get off track at times, and may have been a bit much for some. It seems like the audience thinned out about 10:15, but they would have missed his encore of The Beatles’ “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.”

Frampton is a classic example of why you make your kids take guitar lessons and learn to play golf. Chicks dig one and you can do both when you get old and lose your hair.

— Brian Ormiston

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Category: Live Reviews, Weekly

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