"If there was ever a musician that was an honorary member of San Francisco society... Mr. Peter Frampton" The pre-recorded introduction was the starting point as Peter Frampton rolled back the years at Birmingham's Symphony Hall to deliver a captivating three hour performance that included a complete run through of the legendary Frampton Comes Alive! album, now celebrating its 35th anniversary. Sea of Tranquility's Dean Pedley was on hand to witness a memorable evening that saw Frampton playing on a stripped down stage with a four piece band including original Comes Alive! bassist Stanley Sheldon.
Prior to the show commencing the voice of William Shatner gives directions to the audience that includes no bathroom breaks ("If Peter and the band can hold it then so can you"). With rear screen vintage footage showing Frampton in all of his open shirted, golden curly-locks glory it was like the scorching hot summer of 1976 all over again as they launch into "Something's Happening". Every riff, solo and talk-box squawk is faithfully recreated through cherished classics "Show Me the Way", "Baby, I Love Your Way", Humble Pie's "Shine On" and acoustic gem "Wind of Change". Extended versions of "Jumping Jack Flash" and sixteen plus minutes of the spellbinding "Do You Feel Like I Do" give a sense of spontaneity and improvisation with Frampton jamming away wildly with second guitarist Adam Lester. On its own the recreation of Comes Alive! is a show in itself and the band are duly rewarded with a rapturous ovation going into the intermission.
The second half focuses on more recent material from Thank You Mr Churchill and a sequence of instrumentals from the Grammy winning Fingerprints ("the only album I ever made where I didn't sing a note and they gave me an award") and is satisfying proof that Frampton remains as creative as ever. The talk box is utilised again to provide a unique twist on a cover of Soundgarden's "Black Hole Sun" before going all the way back to Humble Pie and a blistering version of their blues-rock stomp "Four Day Creep". For the encore a moving version of George Harrison's "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" evokes more great memories and is a fitting way to end the evening.
An outstanding show performed by one of England's finest musical exports...how about doing it all over again for the 40th anniversary in five years time?
Review by Dean Pedley
Images (c) Lee Millward