It was the hot and humid final day of June 2023 as I entered the park in search of parking. Universal Studios has a policy that if you arrive after 6:00pm parking is free! It sure beats paying $27.00 that they collect from the tourists. But, on this night, I wasn’t entering to enjoy the theme park. I was on my way to experience the music that I reminisce from my childhood, 1976 to be exact. That is the year I started driving and that was the year I bought my first 8-track tape to play in my 1971 red Plymouth Duster. In 1976, the buzz was about a new live recording that was released by A&M Records. Frampton Comes Alive! The album was hot, and everyone was playing it on the radio stations, in their cars, and in their homes. It was the best-selling album in 1976 with sales of over 20 million. Peter Frampton was unknown to most, but that changed almost overnight.
I was running later than for most shows at Hard Rock Live Orlando as I arrived at 7:00pm. The line was 100 yards long as I made my way to the box office to get my credentials. I slipped into the venue ahead of the crowd with my media pass. Being the first in means I had time to survey the stage and the seating to find my perfect location to photograph the first three songs before heading to my review seat on the center isle in the 11th row; a great seat I might add as I will be in the thick of it during the show.
Let me apologize ahead of time as this review is going to be a bit lengthy as my experience tore at many emotions and memories triggered by the songs. My reviews are rarely in the first person. Also, there wasn’t an opening band, so bear with me.
When I got my credential approval, I was a bit disappointed as the photography area would be front of house and not in front of the stage. What that means is I would be behind the audience, and not in front of it making it difficult to get different angles making the images more attractive. I knew once I set up, there would be no moving as I would be engulfed by the crowd on three sides. I positioned myself behind the rail above the sound and light mixing boards. I had also done some research on YouTube and watched the first three songs from two previous performances of the the “Never Say Never Tour.” What I found out was that the entire band was going to be sitting in chairs, meaning that there would be no movement on stage making those important photo angles. I assumed Peter Frampton must have had an accident as he arrives on stage with the help of a cane before being seated for the two-hour show. I was set up behind the rail front of house, stage right. This was the perfect location in light of all the circumstances.
At around 8:00pm the house was packed, not an open seat could be seen, the lights dimmed, and a slide show started on the back projection screen on the stage. What seemed like a hundred images flashed in about three minutes time. A chronological timeline of Peter Frampton’s career including iconic pictures from the 1970’s.
At the end of the visual production the stage lights came on and every band member was seated in place, just as I had seen from the videos I had previewed. Then Peter walked out from stage left with his cane as the theater rose to their feet and became unglued. I had mixed emotions as I was elated to see him, but also concerned by the cane. He smiled to the crowd, waved his cane in the air and took his seat on what appeared to be a padded office swivel chair without arms. The chair also had wheels so he could move a bit along with being able to swivel.
As I said, I was concentrating on photographing the first three songs, “Lying”, “Shine On” (Humble Pie song) and “I Got My Eyes on You.” After my allotted songs I packed my gear and headed to my review seat just as the fifth song “Show Me the Way” was about to end with a Hard Rock Live standing ovation. Yes, I was in the right place to review this show!
The show now pivoted to Frampton’s blues back ground as he played an instrumental of Hoagy Carmichael‘s “Georgia On My Mind”, which became famous from Ray Charles‘ 1960 rendition. It was evident that there was nothing wrong with Frampton’s fingers as he blistered the fret board. It was an instrumental, but if you listened, you could here the audience singing along as they wanted to be involved in the show. He then introduced his Gretsch Duo Jet guitar that he had purchased in his days with Humble Pie (1969–1971).
Next, Frampton played a song from his self titled 1975 release “The Crying Clown”. The crowd sat patiently as they didn’t really know the song and they wanted to sing! On the eight song, they got their money’s worth with “Baby, I Love Your Way”. The song was masked by a Spanish guitar intro, but they were soon singing at the top of their lungs and rocking to the beat. This brought out the third standing ovation. I remember thinking, Peter Frampton at 73 years old hasn’t lost his voice as his tone was perfect and the memories were just exploding back to 1976.
“All I Wanna Be (Is by Your Side)” was performed electrically, even though the performance on Frampton Comes Alive was done acoustically. No matter, it brought the fourth standing ovation. Next was the blues number “Can’t Take That Away’ from the 1974 album Peter Frampton. Again, Frampton showed great blues guitar riffs and style. He tried to get the crowd to sing along with him, but it just wasn’t what they remembered. The next song, “Black Hole Sun”, a Soundgarden cover was well done and I wasn’t quite sure where it fit in until the end when the rear screen projected Chris Cornell, the singer who tragically took his life on my wedding anniversary on May 18, 2017. My wife and I were in Seattle, Washington, Chris Cornell’s home town, at the time. I will never forget that day as the local radio stations memorialized the gifted musician by playing Soundgarden and Audoslave all day. We absolutely lost a good one that day and I thank Peter Frampton for making me remember.
Now back to why we all were at The Hard Rock Live! Frampton Comes Alive! The next two songs drew the crowd back in to the happy sing along set. A blistering rendition of “(I’ll Give You) Money” complete with Peter and Adam Lester squaring off , facing each other in their chairs soloing going back and forth. Both players were exceptional in their execution which brought yet another standing ovation. Frampton then brought out his black Les Paul guitar and told the story of how he lost the guitar. In 1980, while touring South America, the guitar was put on a cargo plane in Venezuela en route to Panama which crashed causing the loss of lives and all of the contents. 35 years later, the guitar was returned to him. This is the guitar he used when recording Humble Pie Live at The Fillmore and was the guitar on the Frampton Comes Alive album cover. Peter said he has now named the guitar, Phoenix, as it rose from the ashes and found its way back to him. After the story, he brought the house down with “Do You Feel Like We Do”, complete with an extended voice box version of the song.
As the set ended, Frampton, still seated in his chair, explained the show was over and this next part is where the band leaves the stage and does what every they do back stage as the audience cheers for more. Well, they were going to put that exercise aside and just go into the encore. To my delight and the rest of the audience’s, the band played two Humble Pie songs with the final song “I Don’t Need No Doctor”. It had the Hard Rock Live in full sing-a-long mode once again. The show culminated to a completion with The Beatles’ “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.”
My usual concert reviews are the result of reporting by being the fly on the wall. As I said, this review is different as I was sucked into the experience and felt a bond with an era that I hoped wouldn’t end. This concert was different for me in so many ways. Looking back at the show in front of my computer, I searched to find out why Peter Frampton was using a cane. What I found was he has been suffering with an inflammatory muscle disease called Inclusion-Body Myositis or, IBM since 2018. Things made more sense to me as to why this tour is taking place after his “Finale Tour Farewell” in 2019. He also made remarks that his hands were still feeling good, which at the time was puzzling.
Peter Frampton has reinvented himself many times over the years and it seems that this time he has a new battle. I am confident that we will hear more from this artist in the future. I am glad that I covered this show as it was magical and, in a way, a moving experience, even before I understood the underlying issue. My money is on Peter Frampton!
The Peter Frampton Myositis Research Fund has been established to support Inclusion Body Myositis (IBM) and related myositis research to improve the lives of patients living with myositis and to ultimately find a cure. A dollar from each ticket sold is being donated to the Johns Hopkins Myositis Center.
Peter Frampton – Guitar/Vocals
Alison Prestwood – Bass
Adam Lester – Guitar/Vocals
Rob Arthur – Keyboards/Guitar/Vocals
Dan Wojciechowski – Drums
2.) Shine On (Humble Pie song)
3.) I Got My Eyes on You
4.) Lines on My Face
5.) Show Me the Way
6.) Georgia (On My Mind) (Hoagy Carmichael and His Orchestra cover)
7.) The Crying Clown
8.) Baby, I Love Your Way
9.) All I Wanna Be (Is by Your Side)
10.) Can’t Take That Away
11.) Black Hole Sun (Soundgarden cover)
12.) (I’ll Give You) Money
13.) Do You Feel Like We Do
14.) I Want You to Love Me (Humble Pie song)
15.) I Don’t Need No Doctor (Nickolas Ashford cover)
16.) While My Guitar Gently Weeps (The Beatles cover)
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Photographer and Editor/Founder of AllMusicMagazine.com. My love of live music has taken me to incredible experiences with the top bands of all time in stadium shows to the smallest venues with equally inspiring musicians. Using the medium of photography and my publication, these memories will last forever.