Peter Frampton Thanks Fans at The Forum in a Night of Hope and Nostalgia

Peter Frampton at The Forum in LA - Donna Balancia

Jason Bonham and Julian Frampton Open During Emotional Evening

Review By DONNA BALANCIA

The Peter Frampton concert at The Forum gave proof of the masterful musician’s prolific career to an all-Baby Boomer audience that celebrated the good times. After all, Frampton was prom music, first-date music, and Frampton Comes Alive was the soundtrack to high school life in the late 1970s.

The thousands who came to The Forum on Saturday night, did so for a range of reasons. Nostalgia yes, but also to catch a first — or last — chance to hear the beloved songs from Frampton Comes Alive! actually played live. Frampton booked this tour, believed to be his last, when he was diagnosed with a rare inflammatory muscle disease that may incapacitate him.

Peter Frampton – Photo by Paul McAlpine

Hope and melancholy were on the setlist, so to speak, as despite being diagnosed with the rare disease called Inclusion Body Mytosis, Frampton himself seemed positive and upbeat. He played the jovial showman, telling some great stories and anecdotes, and perhaps it was his way of giving back to those who supported his remarkable career.

Peter Frampton an inspiration at The Forum – Donna Balancia

Frampton talked about being the go-to guitarist over a career that included work with many musicians, as also noted in a slide show introduction prior to his stage entrance. His teen idol-like appearance and good looks captured the hearts and imaginations of adoring fans in the late 1970s, and his prolific guitar may have been an afterthought. To put it in ancient terminology, the girls loved his looks and voice and the guys liked the slick guitar playing. But after seeing Frampton at The Forum, it’s easy to understand why his guitar work was so in demand by the greats, among whom he can be considered.

Security and service people at The Forum may have had one of the easiest nights in recent memory. It was a time trip with this particular generation of fans, who continue to exhibit the signs of why young Baby Boomers — the borderline Gen Xers — are such great group. It’s an easygoing bunch, comprised of the youngest sons and daughters of what is considered “the greatest generation.” 

Peter Frampton at The Forum in a farewell tour – Donna Balancia

But these people, mainly in the 50-and-up range, show signs of greatness also, dealing with raising kids and simultaneously caring for aging parents, while working and looking for more work, or reluctantly considering early retirement. The most common ailment for energetic group in attendance: Being “downsized” at work and the reality that there’s no “gold watch” like the one Dad got. In most cases, there’s no retirement package, no 401K and many don’t have proper medical benefits. 

So, it’s with a vengeance that these thousands of people enjoyed their evening with their old friend Frampton, shelling out for food and drink, having mini-reunions with buddies or re-living the songs that played when they met their wives, husbands and best friends. 

But there was also great Rock N Roll

Opening for Frampton was Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience, which if ever there was “the” Led Zeppelin cover band, this is clearly it. What lends credence to this experience is Bonham, of course, who has performed with the real deal and whose father is John Bonham. The thousands of fans at The Forum were on their feet throughout the set.

Jason Bonham Led Zeppelin Experience – Donna Balancia

Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience was not the only act resonating with a father-son theme,  as The Julian Frampton band opened the evening. Julian’s band has been on a run of late, playing a recent gig at The Viper Room and then having a chance to play at The Forum and to open for his famous father.

It’s a relatively new ensemble and young Frampton captured the hearts of the thousands on hand. Aside from his compelling singer-songwriter style, it was easy to see that people want the Frampton legacy to continue.

Frampton Comes Alive

To this day, it’s still an amazing feat that the Frampton Comes Alive! album hit such remarkable and previously unheard of recording industry achievements. At that time, it was the best-selling live album ever. It was recorded at live concerts at Winterland in San Francisco and Long Island and SUNY Plattsburgh in New York. Those around in the day remember that while Humble Pie had relative popularity, the “solo” venture for Frampton yielded almost overnight success in the millions of units. It cut across genres to the Rock fans with a range of offerings including pop, jazz and prog. Of course, it didn’t hurt that Frampton was good-looking with boyish appeal and gorgeous hair, as portrayed on the album cover by famed photographer Francesco Scavullo.

Peter Frampton – Donna Balancia (1 of 1)

But aside from the good-looking teen idol who rose to overnight fame with the biggest live album of all time with Frampton Comes Alive!, Frampton’s “humble” career includes a long CV of work with the greats and infamous. His slide show of images shown on the big screen prior to his emergence on stage Saturday night at The Forum displayed him hanging around with everyone from Olivia Newton-John and Freddie Mercury to David Bowie, with whom he worked.

Frampton’s setlist was dominated by the popular songs on classic radio playlists and jukeboxes across the U.S. and beyond. It would be fair to say that his music has touched millions of lives around the planet, both old and young.

Peter and Julian Frampton – Donna Balancia

But Frampton also represented his days from Humble Pie, most notably with the song “I Don’t Need No Doctor.”  And just maybe he’s right.

There was thunderous applause at the end of the encore “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.”

“This has been an incredible night,” Frampton told the crowd. “I know you know I have a bit of a health issue. The love and warmth I feel from you tonight is so encouraging and inspiring, I just feel that you guys are going to heal me.”

The feeling is mutual.

Peter Frampton – While My Guitar Gently Weeps and a special goodbye

Peter Frampton Setlist

Something’s Happening
Lying
Lines On My Face
The Lodger
Georgia On My Mind
Me and My Guitar
Same Old Blues
Breaking All The Rules
Black Hole Sun
I’ll Give You Money
Baby I Love Your Way
Do You Feel Like We Do

Encore:
Four Day Creep
I Don’t Need No Doctor
While My Guitar Gently Weeps