Amidst the shores of the mighty Cuyahoga River, Peter Frampton and his Guitar Circus played to a raucous crowd of sixty-somethings, fifty-somethings and spotted twenty-somethings.
The Guitar Circus rolled into town, Saturday night, June 22. With first act, Roger McGuinn, formerly of The Byrds, laying out the folk and psychedelic tunes.
Behind the curtain of the next act was Robert Cray. Not far from McGuinn in guitar ability, Cray laid down the other half of popular 60s and 70s music – the blues.
As stage lights dimmed, The Beatle’s song, “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!” bellowed over the sound system. Fittingly, with it’s psychedelic transcendence and circus themed lyrics, and ironically as Frampton starred in the movie, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
Frampton, 63, looks different than he did on the cover of Frampton Comes Alive. His hair may have receded, but certainly not his fingers or range in vocals.
He opened with “Magic Moon (Da Da Da Da Da!), thumping with a grooving bass line. His fancy finger work put the album version to shame.
The 70’s rocker showed off his guitar virtuosity on several guitar interlude tracks like, “Double Nickels”, and an impressive dueling guitar tango with band mate and fellow guitarist, Adam Lester. The two caught each other in a web of riffs, and matched each other like skilled swordsmen, on point.
Roger McGuinn joined Frampton and co onstage for a serenade back into the folk of the ’60s, with Dylan’s “Mr. Tambourine Man”. With his signature picking style, McGuinn led the band into “So You Want to Be a Rock ‘n’ Roll Star” and shared a little insight into what may happen, if you take sometime, and learn how to play, and followed it with the psych induced, “8 Miles High”.
Frampton Comes Alive tracks were plenty, with “Baby, I Love Your Way”, “Show Me the Way”, “Winds of Change”, and “Doobie Wah”, bringing coherent audience members to a former time of basements and turntables, joints, and beer cans.
Frampton paid homage to ’90s grunge, with a dizzying version of Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun”. His guitar lead played as longingly as Chris Cornell sings it, merging the psych of the ’60s with the trauma of the ’90s.
To end the set, everyone was posed with the question of, “Do you feel like we do?” And to the audience’s glee, of course they did, as the song was filled with every ounce of awesomeness on that appeared more than 30 years ago. From the raucous verse and chorus, to the jamming bass interlude with keys dancing about it, to Frampton’s signature Talkbox proclamations. And the swell of the guitar solo, crashing down to bring the song to it’s climax, as well as everyone around.
It all came full circle at the encore, bringing the audience back to the Beatle’s with, “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”. McGuinn joined them back on stage for one last duet in guitar shredding. An homage to the Beatle’s, and homage to guitar player’s every where, and an indication that we will listen to Frampton’s guitar weeping any day.