Thursday, September 11, 2003

Frampton still riding on three songs

Concert review

By Chris Varias
The Cincinnati Enquirer

After 27 years, the three-biggest songs of Peter Frampton's live set are still "Baby, I Love Your Way," "Show Me the Way" and "Do You Feel Like We Do."

Frampton, the '70s-rock superstar who makes his home in Cincinnati, played Fraze Pavilion in Kettering Wednesday, and the highlights of the performance were those three shining moments from his 1976 multi-platinum smash Frampton Comes Alive.

"This is nice, sort of like the hometown gig," Frampton observed, looking over the crowd of 2,550. "I've already seen the girl from Starbucks, the guy from the gym and my family."

Most classic rockers who've never been able to repeat quarter-century old successes would be embittered, but Frampton is an affable fellow. He appeared pleased to play that three-pack of hits, making it seem he did so by choice, when we know quite well that a silent contract exists between performer and ticket buyer in which Frampton had better play "Do You Feel Like We Do" and make those funny talking-guitar sounds, or nobody goes home happy.

It's good Frampton doesn't mind, because nothing else in the hour-and-40-minute set truly measured up to those three songs, as far as quality or crowd reaction went - not an old nugget like "Lines on My Face" or the several selections from his brand-new studio album Now.

In fact, only a couple songs came close, and one was a cover of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," which appears on the new album.

Most of the other Now stuff had the feel of bad, generic '80s English rock, sort of like Genesis with good guitar solos. A ballad here, a straight-ahead mid-tempo rocker there, and a little blues-rock mixed in for good measure - the music was of a familiar form and so were the lyrics, unless catchphrases like "gone but not forgotten" and "flying without wings" should be considered clever hooks for songs.

Although much of the new material was uninspired, each song had Frampton's tuneful guitar playing, and he was the featured instrumentalist on every song among a small combo consisting of drummer Chad Cromwell, bassist John Regan, and Bob Mayo on keyboards and guitar.

There's tuneful playing, and then there's "Do You Feel Like We Do." The 15-minute talk-box extravaganza was not only a highlight of the show; it was the highlight among the Frampton Comes Alive triumvirate.


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