‘You Had to Be There” — Peter Frampton woos Reno

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Some artists don’t engage the audience, and a very few might talk too much. Peter Frampton seems to have found that happy spot between playing up a non-stop storm of music and taking time to talk to the audience as if he was in a small club getting ready to step down and mingle with the crowd.

He performed to a sold-out crowd in the Grand Sierra Resort Sept. 20.

The stage setup was simple and perfect for the show. There were two short risers, one for the keyboards and one for the drummer, and a medium sized screen up behind the band. Other than a rug and their instruments, that was it. Accompanying his ongoing warm and sincere interaction with the audience throughout the show, was his willingness to “share” the stage with his band mates which was made clear by the fact that it was so easy for me to find their names. Most of the time I have to do deep research to find out the names of the band members, but not this time. He has them posted on his Facebook page and on his web page. Sounds simple, but it seldom happens. With him were Rob Arthur on keyboards, guitar and vocals; Adam Lester on guitar; Dan Wojciechowski on drums (I’ll take “Impossible Names To Spell” for $10,000, Alex); and Stanley Sheldon who has been playing bass with Peter since the “Frampton Comes Alive” album.

Frampton 2They started off with “You Had To Be There,” which is on Peter’s 2000 release “Live In Detroit,” and they moved quickly through “Doobie Wah” and “It’s a Plain Shame.” The crowd of aging music fans (my people) really got into it when the band then broke into “Lines On My Face” from way back in 1973. During this introductory volley he had his first conversation with the crowd, imploring them to abide by a policy of consideration by taking all the pictures they wanted during the first three songs (a rule I have to go by as a credentialed photographer), and then to please put their cell phones and cameras away so as not to be a bother to the band or the other audience members. His manner of presenting this request was humorous and polite. He definitely has a way with the audience. This is a good policy too. I’ve been at shows where people are holding their iPads up and taking videos during much of the show. Really? Why not just where a top hat?

Then he said it was time to play something new, a song that he had played with a ballet (I missed which ballet). This met with light applause which he referred to as “forced applause,” laughing with the crowd. He asked that we all give it a big round of applause at the end to make the band feel good, which we all did. Not to let a good round of applause go to waste they immediately started one of his biggest hits ever: “Show Me The Way.”

Frampton 4After a jazzy number called “Double Nickels” from “Fingerprints” they went into a song I was not familiar with, “I Wanna Go To The Sun,” and it was great. It started out with some amazing piano work and continued on from there. This was the beginning of a ramp up to the end. An amazing version of “I’ll Give You “ was next. It was a real production number with dynamic changes and swapping solos. Peter and second guitarist Adam Lester were facing each other up close and swapping riffs back and forth. The dynamics built up to high levels and then dropped down to a whisper. It was an amazing job. They followed this with an instrumental cover of Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun” followed by another huge hit, “Baby I Love Your Way.”

Now it was time for more audience chit chat. Peter made fun of people yelling “woo” and threw up his hands yelling “woo” and getting the audience to play along in sections, as if in competition. Then he requested a wave (like at sporting events) and he got it. He introduced the band and they all walked around the stage shaking hands with one another. It was hilarious.

Now it was time for the show stopper, “Do You Feel Like We Do,” his astronomical hit made famous by the live performance with a Talk Box from “Frampton Comes Alive.” This too was an extended version complete with wonderful solos and audience interaction. For the encore they returned to play two songs. The first was “Day in The Sun” from his 1994 self titled album and the last number was the title cut from 1977’s “I’m In You.”

This was a show filled with great music, pleasant conversations, great memories, and smiles from beginning to end. Frampton has not had an easy career. Early quick success was followed by poor career moves (probably encouraged by others) and personal tragedy. It’s good to see him smiling and having such a good time while making a great living doing what he loves, and making sure everybody else has a good time too.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Get out of the house and go enjoy some live music. It will charge your batteries. I’m turning 60 in a few days, and I don’t feel a day over 59 ½. Woo!

… and the beat goes on.

Nick McCabe is the editor of Front Row Photo. Check out his website HERE

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About Josh Sweigert

Josh grew up on the California coast with a deep appreciation for bluegrass and string band music as well as the great outdoors. A guitarist and singer, he plays solo acoustic gigs in South Lake Tahoe.

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