If you thumb through just about any dog-eared record collection, there’s bound to be a well-worn copy of Peter Frampton’s live double LP “Frampton Comes Alive!”
The album was a surprise smash when it was released in 1976, instantly rocketing Frampton to Guitar God status. Several of the album’s tracks, namely its renditions of “Show Me the Way” and “Baby, I Love Your Way,” immediately overshadowed their studio-recorded versions and remain staples of classic rock radio.
“Frampton Comes Alive!” captures the energy and electricity of Frampton’s stage show, and Frampton continues to play all over the country – just last year, he toured in celebration of the “Alive” album’s 35th anniversary. Now he’s back on the road with a show dubbed Frampton’s Guitar Circus, which has the hit-maker playing from his extensive catalogue with a steadily revolving group of special guests such as B.B. King, Richard Thompson and the Byrds’ Roger McGuinn.
Tonight Frampton’s “circus” stops at Northern Quest Resort & Casino, where the guitar legend will be joined by acclaimed blues musician Kenny Wayne Shepherd and David Hidalgo of Los Lobos.
Frampton first experienced popularity when he was a teenager in the short-lived baroque pop band the Herd. They had a few hits, though none outside of their native U.K., and Frampton eventually jumped ship to found the blues rock group Humble Pie with former Small Faces frontman Steve Marriott.
Frampton again went his own way in 1971, when he left Humble Pie and embarked on a solo career. His first four studio albums barely made a dent on the charts, and then “Frampton Comes Alive!” unexpectedly blew up. That record, which showcases Frampton’s guitar virtuosity and talk box wah-wahs, remains one of the defining monuments of mid-’70s arena rock.
Although Frampton was never really able to duplicate that album’s unbelievably long-lasting success, he continues to record regularly: He had hits on the mainstream rock charts in the ’80s and ’90s, and his 2006 instrumental album “Fingerprints” won him an overdue Grammy.
His presence on the touring circuit is still a towering one, and the best way to experience his music is live and in person. Frampton is ever the showman, and the control he has over his instrument really has to be seen to be believed.
And when he asks, “Do you feel like I do?” you’ll know exactly what he’s talking about.