Peter Frampton has had a long and storied life in music, over a five decade period that began with bands formed when he was still in school, and continued on to being a founding member of English rock greats Humble Pie and, after that, a highly successful solo artist. His groundbreaking 1976 double live album Frampton Comes Alive! cemented him as one of the defining artists of the 70s, and hits like “Show Me the Way” and “Baby, I Love Your Way” remain AOR radio staples to this day. Although his brush with pop stardom ended with the start of the 80s, Frampton has continued to record and perform since, even winning a Grammy for his instrumental album Fingerprints in 2007. His most recent release, All Blues, came out in June.
Earlier this year, Frampton announced that he had been diagnosed with inclusion body myositis (IBM), an inflammatory muscle disease which, he’s noted in interviews discussing his condition, will eventually render him unable to play guitar. But rather than treat it as a sad occasion, Frampton has set out on the road with his band for one final tour celebrating his work over the years. On Wednesday, that tour made a stop in Washington, DC at The Anthem.
Frampton opened with the title track of his 1974 album Somthin’s Happening, a song which didn’t get the notice it deserved in its original release but took center stage as the opener to Frampton Comes Alive! From there, Frampton played a mix of his older, more widely known 70s material (including “Lines On My Face,” “Show Me the Way,” “Baby, I Love Your Way,” and “Do You Feel Like We Do”) and more recent tracks, including a trio of covers from All Blues (“Georgia (On My Mind)” by Hoagy Carmichael, and “Me and My Guitar” and “Same Old Blues” by Freddie King). Throughout, he told stories – buying back the green drum kit that he had bought for (now deceased) drummer John Siomos when it appeared on eBay, being mentored by the Rolling Stones’ Bill Wyman, meeting and befriending Chris Cornell after the late singer heard his instrumental cover of “Black Hole Sun” (which Frampton then played). One thing that can be said, if this tour does end up being the final chapter of Hampton’s career, he’s had a hell of a run.
The good news is that, for now, Frampton seems to be doing well. His guitar playing sounds as great as ever, he’s in good spirits, and if he’s experiencing any difficulty, it’s not visible while he’s on stage. His energy and his joy in the music is as infectious as ever, and it’s doubtful that anyone left the venue without a smile on their face. While he’s finished his east coast dates (at least for now), he heads westward later this month. If he’s coming to your town, it’s a show not to be missed.
Jason Bonham, the son of late Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham, opened the night with his band, Jason Bohnam’s Led Zeppelin Evening. The group performed a set of covers of some of Zeppelin’s biggest songs, including “Immigrant Song,” “Black Dog,” “Ramble On,” “Whole Lotta Love,” and, of course, “Stairway to Heaven.”
Peter Frampton setlist
Baby (Somethin’s Happening) Lying Lines On My Face Show Me the Way Fig Tree Bay Georgia (On My Mind) Me and My Guitar Same Old Blues Breaking All the Rules
Black Hole Sun (I’ll Give You) Money Baby, I Love Your Way Do You Feel Like We Do
Four Day Creep I Don’t Need a Doctor While My Guitar Gently Weeps