Sunday night, fans flocked to Northerly Island to witness a moment of music history. Peter Frampton rocked the lakefront with his farewell tour. Frampton – along with opening act Jason Bonham and the Led Zeppelin Experience – could not have picked a more beautiful night to fill the air with songs that the crowd knew and loved. There was a tinge of sentimentalism in the air, as this may be Frampton’s last tour.
The singer, songwriter, and guitarist announced earlier this year that he has inclusion body myositis – a muscle disease that will likely conclude his ability to play guitar. And – if you’ve ever listened to Frampton Comes Alive! – you know that this performer is all about the guitar. He switched out guitars between almost every one of the 16 songs he played, closing his first set with “Do You Feel Like We Do” and finalizing his encore with a cover of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” by The Beatles.
While I’ve seen Frampton a number of times, this experience was particularly memorable due to the feeling of finality. However, this didn’t seem to harp on Frampton as he performed with the same vigor that one can hear on Alive! His passion for music is evident during guitar riffs, as he’d shut his eyes and allow himself to go with the music.
Between songs, he was very interactive with the audience – cracking jokes and telling stories. One of the standout stories was a recent tale of him saving a bird that had flown into his window, inspiring his song “I Saved A Bird Today” (which, on the surface may sound odd, but the song was dripping with emotion that was evidenced by the quiet but captive audience).
Frampton gives every performance his all and this was no exception. And, it certainly didn’t hurt that the crowd was primed by the incredible Bonham performance that had preceded – which had everyone dancing, singing along, and bonding with their neighbors.
The atmosphere, the weather, and the shared love of music made the night one to remember. So much so that it matches words written by Cameron Crowe in December 1975, found inside the vinyl edition of Alive! “Even the audience enjoys a major role throughout and, as always, Frampton & Band perform with the earnestness and competence that we’ve come to expect. Frampton Comes Alive is much more than a souvenir. It is a testimony to Peter Frampton in his natural habitat.”