Monday, April 4, 2016


More than 35 years after the first time I saw him in concert, I went to see Peter Frampton again at long last - in March. We’ve both changed! We’re both old!

It was a terrific show, in support of his Acoustic Classics album. It was Peter Frampton unplugged, just him and, for much of the show, Gordon Kennedy. That's it. I know I’ve heard other people playing Frampton's songs acoustically, but never Frampton himself. And he seemed to enjoy playing his songs that way as much as we enjoyed hearing them. He played for two solid hours, his own stuff and some excellent covers, and it was a delight. It felt like he was in a living room, and not just because of the carpets and the lamps. He joked, he laughed, he even teared up at least once. Very sincere show - it's been a while since I saw someone performing who seemed to really want to be there.

The show wasn't quite sold out, but the audience was super-enthusiastic - at times, a wee bit too much. I love an excited audience, and I mostly loved the people around me, but people trying to talk back to performers, to put themselves into a show, get tiresome. But I admit that it was fun when Frampton's son, who opened, introduced his keyboardist, and said he had met him at Starbuck's - he was the barista - and the crowd started chanting the keyboardist's name. Between him and his father's performance, there was a short intermission, and Stefan went out for a smoke - and met a fellow smoker that turned out to be the keyboardist's father. Very nice man.

Frampton talked as much as he sang, and it was wonderful to hear his stories. Like about going to school with David Bowie, how Bowie and Frampton’s father remained especially close all their lives, and how Bowie invited Frampton to tour with him in the late 1980s, helping him to be seen as a musician again, after seeing his career get turned into teenie-bopper fodder - and then seeing it crash. He talked about the first instrument he learned to play: it was not the guitar, but a four-string instrument, the size of a guitar but more like a ukulele. Or how, whilst in Portland, he'd had the best fish and chips he'd ever had outside of England, from "a Scottish guy" he quite enjoyed imitating (after some digging after the show, I found out he was talking about The Frying Scotsman).

He also talked about his association with the Buddy Holly Foundation - Frampton is one of the Buddy Holly Foundation Lifetime Legacy Ambassadors - along with Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Brian May, Graham Nash, Peter Asher, James Burton, Dave Stewart and Pete Townshend. Each received, or will receive, a “lifetime loan” of a replica of the acoustic guitar Holly wrote so many of his hits on, and each replica includes a fret from Holly’s original guitar. Frampton was given the “Peggy Sue” guitar, and he told a hysterical story of how he has it instead of Paul McCartney, who also wanted it. He followed this story with playing “Peggy Sue,” of course, on said guitar.

Kennedy also told stories, including that he’d received one of Jerry Reed’s guitars from his widow upon his dear friend’s death, and after it sat in his closet for a long while, he decided the person that should have it, that would appreciate it, that deserved it, was Peter Frampton - and Frampton brought out that guitar and played. Why do I love the idea of Peter Frampton playing a Jerry Reed guitar so much?

The show was in Revolution Hall, in the former Washington High School building in Southeast Portland (Oregon). What a fantastic space - just 850 seats, including the balcony, and it feels even smaller. It was built in 1924, and after the building ended its life as a high school, plans were to convert it into housing, and its central auditorium would likely have become a light well. Somehow, people realized that wasn’t the right direction so, instead, a $20 million renovation transformed the building into a mix of office and retail space, and preserved the auditorium as a performance space. The campus used to have even more buildings - it’s such a shame they are gone, because that was a great time for American architecture. But thank goodness the historic high school building has been preserved. The former classrooms are now offices of various small companies, and the hallways are still lined with lockers. There are two pubs in the building, one on the ground floor next to a vast field that’s an unofficial dog park - you have fun with your dog then all walk over and sit outside and have a beer. How awesome is that?!

Big kudos to Stefan for being so sweet and patient as I squee'd and bopped and even teared up a few times - though I was vastly better behaved than I'd been in Evansville in 1979. I was 13 then. To say a lot has changed would be the understatement of the century.

We drove to the Sunset Transit station from Forest Grove, then took the red line into town, then a bus to near the venue. But for the trip home, the timing was right to take the #20 bus a few blocks from the venue that took us right back to Sunset - no transfers needed. If there was a quick way to get to Sunset from Forest Grove, I could totally work in Portland, sans car....

A pox on the two drunk women trying, from the balcony, to recapture their 80s wild child days and get Frampton to notice them - being loud and drunk wasn't as cool as you think it was, "ladies."

But ultimately, the night was all about fabulous Frampton. And the next day, I sent a tweet... and look who responded!