FCA35 Tour: An Evening with Peter Frampton
It always feels like a confession, some sordid guilty pleasure, but I grew up with Frampton Comes Alive and though I can see why those raised on the punk and post-punk that cancelled it out could never stand this I still see (and hear) it as a classic album. I don’t need to listen to it all that often, I carry it with me. And if you can easily write that off – if you’re sure it’s a terrible album – then that’s fine. But it was a big deal at the time; still is arguably – a classic live album, one of the classic live albums; a best-seller and fascinating too in that it was the pinnacle for Frampton, not so much a legend or even legend-in-the-making but a great-enough guitar player with a right time/right place approach and a great set of performances; the live versions becoming the hits, making the studio versions hits, not just a case of him running through the hits du jour with facsimile live renditions.
I mention this because, well, there’s obviously no point engaging with this anniversary tour DVD if you were never a fan of the album. The tour was for fans – and the young fans have arrived at the album via their parents (as I guess I did).
And it is a great run-through/update of a seminal live album. But it’s also a reminder of the millstone/career-killer that Frampton Comes Alive was/is for Frampton. His next album of any real (attempted) significance, was 1995’s Frampton Comes Alive II. Again, well played, as in competent, committed – but the world did not need to hear this. And it shows how lost and lonely his playing was (as in – without an audience) in the wake of the original Comes Alive.
But good on Frampton for fronting up and owning it, for acknowledging the firm fan-favourite and just re-creating it rather than trying to re-write it (as was the case in 95).
So it’s a faithful update/run-through and that’s either a good thing or a very bad thing. You won’t have made it this far into this review if you never cared about the album or artist.
Disc two features all the new stuff – so it’s wise he keeps them separated. There’s committed playing and performances on disc two again, and it’s all the post-Frampton Comes Alive II material – even if that retread wasn’t hugely successful it clearly had Peter bit by the bug again, eager to get his axe out, to do some playing. And there have been moments on the recent albums. Here and there. Now they are here, collected on this DVD.
But it’s very boring. It’s a one-time-watch; nothing more. You would have to be the world’s biggest Peter Frampton fan to enjoy – more than once – the second disc from this set. But, hey, that is who this whole tour and its accompanying merchandise was aimed at – the big fans.
I don’t know that I needed to see Frampton Comes Alive Again (And Again…) which is what this really is. But I still love that original album now and then. And this, at least, reminded me of that.
And maybe that’s something. And maybe it isn’t.