Peter Frampton’s Guitar Circus Rocks Los Angeles
Peter Frampton's summer concert caravan, Frampton's Guitar Circus, has proven to be one of the most successful concepts of the season. Taking a page from Ringo's All-Stars and even a bit of Bob Dylan's mid-'70s Rolling Thunder Review, the tour features a rotating roster of legendary players that join Frampton and his reliable band onstage each night.
Since May, the tour has welcomed such luminaries as Robert Cray, Steve Lukather, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Roger McGuinn, Larry Carlton and others. On Aug. 24, the audience at Los Angeles' historic outdoor Greek Theater received a couple of special guests.
The August leg of Frampton’s Guitar Circus features slide guitarist Sonny Landreth as the show's opener, followed by the legendary B.B. King, who turns 88 next month. He still cradles his beloved iconic guitar Lucille while picking out classic blues riffs, telling stories and mixing it up with the crowd. His entertaining set at the Greek was capped by Frampton joining him for ‘The Thrill Is Gone.’
Judging from the reaction, the audience could have gone home happy at this point. About 30 minutes later Frampton took the stage with his band and launched into a series of his classics songs, including ‘Doobie Wah,’ ‘Show Me the Way’ and a beautiful, lush ‘Lines on My Face.’
Then came the first surprise, as Frampton brought out his son Julian to sing along on a pair of Stone Temple Pilots songs, which made more sense after that band's guitarist, Dean DeLeo, walked onstage. Frampton and his son exchanged vocals on two prime STP hits, ‘Interstate Love Song’ and ‘Vaseline,’ before Frampton returned to his own catalog for a churning and extended stomped-up version of '(I’ll Give You) Money.’
Then former Police guitarist Andy Summers came onstage for his only appearance on the tour as the band tore into an intense version of the Police classic ‘Message in a Bottle’ featuring Frampton band member Adam Lester with a strikingly Sting-like vocal. Then Frampton finished things off with his hit ‘Baby I Love Your Way’ and a darkly brilliant take on Soundgarden’s ‘Black Hole Sun.’
Finally it was time for the night's big moment, the tour de force ‘Do You Feel Like We Do?,’ which still packs a ton of snazzy, jazzy excursions by Frampton and company, including lots of warm interplay with renowned bassist Stanley Sheldon, the only remaining member of Frampton's famous band from the mid-'70s. (The frontman did take a moment during the show to look up in the summer night and acknowledge Bob Mayo and John Siomos, both of whom have passed away.)
Frampton showed why he remains one of the most stylish guitarists of his generation on his sprawling, iconic classic. As a teen in Humble Pie through his meteoric success in the '70s, and carried throughout his long road back over the past two decades, Frampton remains a truly seasoned and gifted performer.
For the encore, DeLeo and Summers returned for a piercing, extended version of the Beatles' ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps.’ It will be interesting to see how this tour progresses over the years and how Frampton chooses to evolve it. If this first outing is any indication, then fans are in for some very special moments.