Rochester’s annual International Jazz Festival is a pure musical delight, with stages nestled into the streets in downtown, serving as a temporary home for some of the world’s most talented jazz musicians. With nine days of music and nearly 300 shows to choose from, music lovers have their pick of a star-studded lineup. Among the headliners this year was Grammy Award winning Peter Frampton’s Guitar Circus, featuring Don Felder, formerly of The Eagles.
Taking the stage in dark blue jeans, All Star sneakers and black shirt, Peter Frampton greeted the crowd in the Eastman Theater. With eager photographers from the media populating the center of the stage, looking for their perfect shot of a living rock legend, Frampton smiled back at the cameras and joked with the photographers – “My you have big lenses, we can compare mm later.. Are you trying to get my nostrils?”
The lights dimmed, the music began with energy, and his stage presence was thrilling; the audience was perched at the edge of their seats, basking in the glory of a true rock star. With an energetic start and a slower paced second song, “Show Me the Way” prompted a sing-along with the crowd and the energy was unbelievable. The song is one of his biggest hits, originally released on the 1976 album, Frampton Comes Alive! – featuring the iconic talkbox device made famous by Frampton; seeing this song performed live was like a step-back into the history of Rock ‘n’ Roll.
After a quick check-in with the audience – “How we doing tonight?”, the crowd returned a faint cheer, prompting Frampton to reply, “Can’t we make more noise than that?” and the crowd erupted with a roaring cheer, giving the band the energy they were looking for. The next song was the title track from Frampton’s 1972 solo album, Wind of Change. Now relaxed and fully enjoying the moment, Frampton belted out the lyrics, “Take me away, take me away, faking my way through,” the crowd participated in yet another energized sing-a-long.
The next treat was an instrumental jam that was an exquisite collaboration of guitars and drums. The Guitar Circus was more like a showcase of the sexiest guitar rifts with hard-hitting Rock ‘n’ Roll drums to keep the beat. Next, fans were treated with another hit off Frampton Comes Alive! – “Baby, I Love Your Way” – the classic song still continues to get air time on classic rock stations to this day.
Banter between band members and interactions from Frampton to the crowd had become part of the show, fans were engaged – participating in the energy that the music brought to a small theater, an intimacy that lacks in the stadium style concerts, making the fans part of the show. Frampton announced, “Well this is the circus and welcome to the guitar circus, we do have a lot of guitar ticks, but it is my honor to introduce Mr. Don Felder of the Eagles, to the stage,” and the crowd erupted with applause from Frampton’s words and welcomed Felder to the stage.
Fans knew what the first song between the duo was even before a lyric was spoken, as nostalgia soaked the air for “Hotel California”, clearly the song they had all been hoping for, based upon the expressions on the faces of the concert goers which were reminiscent of teenagers cranking up the tunes in their car as they embarked on new journeys. To see these two legends on stage together was nothing short of a Rock ‘n’ Roll dream. The duo also played a sexy version of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s “Pride and Joy“.
The night showcased a few more well-known songs, several stories and jokes from Frampton, and then fans were told a tale of plane crashes and lost guitars – “I got this guitar back after 31 years. I thought it was in a plane crash but it had fallen out before the crash and then it was stolen and now it’s come back to me,” referring to the 1954 Gibson Les Paul he played on “Frampton Comes Alive!”, one of the best-selling live albums ever and the recording that established him as one of the great rock guitarists of the 1970’s.
The final song of the night was a score truly meant for this long-lost guitar that Frampton held firmly in his arms, “Do You Feel Like We Do”. The entire night was a step-back into the 1970’s for most in attendance. Peter Frampton’s Guitar Circus was a showcase of legendary Rock ‘n’ Roll history, well received by all who had the opportunity to attend. As the show came to an end and the lights went up, Frampton thanked the crowd for a terrific evening, arm-in-arm with his bandmates for a final bow and gracefully exited the stage.
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