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FRAMPTON'S FINE FAREWELL
9/16/19

By Phil Gallo

Shredding and reminiscing his way through a 50-year career that has largely been centered on guitar-playing prowess, Peter Frampton bid adieu to New York Friday as his farewell tour hit Madison Square Garden. It was a rousing two-hour-plus performance, long on guitar solos and stories about bandmates, incidents in Manhattan, and moments in a life that he recognized with a consistent tone of humility.

“I’m verklempt,” he said after wrapping “Lying,” his third song in the 17-song set. He truly seemed overwhelmed by the enthusiastic response.

Saying goodbye on this Farewell Tour—he’s suffering from the progressive muscle disorder Inclusion Body Myositis—Frampton is able to perform at the highest possible level before the disease robs him of any playing abilities. As great as he sounds vocally, this is very much a celebration of Frampton the Guitarist, the blues-oriented, harder edged rocker whose musical world exploded and for a good while softened with the intense success of Frampton Comes Alive in 1976.

“Something Happening,” one of five songs everyone knows from Frampton Comes Alive, opens the show; he reaches back for Humble Pie—“I Don’t Need No Doctor” was written at the Garden during a soundcheck, he says—and celebrates his more recent triumphs—the Grammy-winning Fingerprints and his recent blues chart-topper All Blues.

His show, which stops at The Forum in L.A. on 10/5, features blues classics and gems from George Harrison and Soundgarden; intense duels with his second guitarist, Adam Lester, and keyboardist Rob Arthur; and fond recollections of one musician after another, Hank Marvin to Steve Miller to Chris Cornell. (A slide show had plenty of photos with Peter and David Bowie but there was no musical tip of the cap to his lifelong friend).     

It’s a spectacular final statement from Frampton and the disease is clearly not winning: His voice, his smile, his demeanor—all are still as charming as ever.