It was a packed house for Peter Frampton Raw: An Acoustic Tour last night at The Kennedy Center’s Eisenhower Theater. With excitement in the air, the crowd could not sit still ahead of the show, and before the lights dimmed Peter Frampton came out in jeans and a t-shirt “Good evening, D.C.!” The greeting was well-received, any word for the already built-up excitement to turn to applause, Frampton thanked the crowd and announced the opening act; his son Julian and Ben Sheridan.
The duo did more than warm-up the audience; they came out brimming with energy and enthusiasm, which was infectious. Julian’s playful attitude involved a lot of joking and back-and-forth with the crowd. His set was composed of sings he and Sheridan developed, for the most part. Julian was extremely grateful to be able to play at a venue such as The Kennedy Center and shared how much he enjoyed our fair city. The night turned from playful and fun into a heartfelt moment as Julian covered Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide,” sharing with the audience that he played this same cover at his sister’s wedding during the father-and-daughter dance. Lots of “awes” from the crowd, and a genuinely good rendition of a classic song that is now part of the great American classics.
Finally, and without much of a break, Peter Frampton came out. The set had been turned to a living room, complete with a coffee table, living room lamps and a vintage radio. It felt like a small living room in London, circa 1950s. Frampton walked in wearing a black raincoat, an all-black outfit. He was walking home and welcoming the audience into this intimate setting, as if we were dinner guests and we strolled to the living room for some tunes after dinner. Indeed, the entire night was filled with conversation and Frampton’s classic. He said, “The night goes a little bit like this; I play some songs and tell you stories.” He had so many anecdotes that related to each song, a rich life that came to a vivid focus through his words.
I knew that Frampton was a legend; a guitar virtuoso that has given is many classics. I had no idea how charismatic and genuinely funny he can be. His stories were full of life and he even played several parts of each of the anecdotes, adding different accents and impersonations. It was like being at a pub with a friendly character, who has had a full life and has let go of inhibitions, giving a raw representation of himself. Through the conversation, his guitar prowess is still there, perhaps even more fine-tuned than ever. He had several changes of guitars, including a beautiful one that belonged to Buddy Holly.
The power riffs sounded even better than the most polished vynil album. There was an organic quality to his playing and it only got better when his collaborator Gordon Kennedy, who got to shine through a masterful rendition of the classic “Change the World” by Eric Clapton. The other height of the night came when he shared that he missed his parents. “It’s funny, y’know sometimes I wish I could just pick up the phone and call,” he shared.
A very private moment where he also remembered his school chum, Dave Jones, also known as David Bowie whom we lost this year. Frampton said they used to play together at school, and later on they collaborated musically and in a tour that Frampton says re-introduced him to audiences everywhere as a guitarist.
Frampton treated us all to a night of memories and music that sounded as good as when it was first issued. Even though some of these songs are powerful, the night never felt too heavy thanks to the Frampton’s great sense of humor. His giving spirit was in full force, and the audience also gave back throughout the night. Frampton was extremely comfortable on stage and shared it with his collaborators in an openhanded way. He was not in a rush to play a set and leave, he was in his element and took his time in building a show that as the title says was raw and authentic.
Running time: 100 minutes, with a 20 minute intermission.
Peter Frampton Raw: An Acoustic Tour played on Sunday, October 16, 2016 at The Kennedy Center’s Eisenhower Theater-2700 F Street, NW, in Washington, DC. For tickets to future Kennedy Center events, go to their calendar.
“All I Wanna Be”
“Wind of Change”
“Peggy Sue” by Buddy Holly, cover
“Just the Time of Year”
“Penny for Your Thoughts”
“Show Me the Way”
“Lines on My Face”
“Hummingbird in a Box”
“Heart to My Chest”
“Norwegian Wood” by The Beatles, cover
“Oh for Another Day”
“You Can Be Sure”
“Road to the Sun”
“Heartbeat” by Buddy Holly, cover
“Change the World” by Eric Clapton, cover
“Baby I Love Your Way”
“Do You Feel Like We Do”