Peter Frampton no longer has those long flowing golden locks, but he still came to Jacobs Pavilion at Nautica last night with all the same energy and charisma that put him on the map. Expecting a solid soft rock set from Frampton seemed like an easy bet going in. However, he sounded surprisingly fresh with extended bombastic guitar solos and some friends to help him out. Frampton’s guitar style is hard to pinpoint or put in perspective because of the diversity and versatility he brings to the instrument. It can only be described as rock ‘n roll.
“(I’ll Give You) Money” was the first surprise of the night as Frampton came out swinging with this hard rock tune that normally sounds subdued on recordings. The 63-year-old rocker engaged in all out war with fellow bandmate Adam Lester as the two battled in a dueling guitar solo for nearly 10 minutes. The intensity and pace of the two solos steadily grew to a cacophony of screeching guitars.
As promised, Roger McGuinn, founder and frontman of The Byrds, joined the band on stage for a four song slug out of hits. The pop riff of the classic Bob Dylan cover “Mr.Tambourine Man” was quickly met with a singing crowd. “So You Want To Be A Rock ‘N’ Roll Star” was a little rougher on Frampton’s backing band but McGuinn kept it together with his rock solid vocals. “Eight Miles High” was also rough around the edges but made up for it with its chaotic nature and for being an all around kick ass pop song, no matter how contradictory those two descriptions may seem.
Of course, what would a Peter Frampton concert be without his signature talk box. His cover of Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun” was made unique his by playing the vocal line entirely on guitar before breaking through the final chorus with a talk box solo and an energy level that challenges Chris Cornell’s.
The classics, “Baby I love Your Way,” and “Do You Feel Like We Do,” were solid but went on for far too long as people began to leave the pavilion before the final note was strum. Frampton would come back on stage for a mediocre cover of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.”
Robert Cray opened the show with his own blend of blues which starkly contrasted Frampton’s own more laid back style. Besides the odd matchup, Cray rocked the stage for an hour and left everything on stage. His vocals are soulful with a hint of heartbreak and a ton of bitterness. Oh and the man’s a blues guitar god. He pals around with Eric Clapton frequently and began opening for him back in the ’80s. That right there says about all you need to know about Cray’s skill on a Fender. You can check out a slideshow of photos from the concert here.