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By: Paul Voran
Photography by Gabriel Nelson
There are many potential problems that hang in my mind when approaching a classic rock concert. These tours are sometimes riddled with aging vocal chords, new band members that seem out of place, and performances that stray too far from our memories. However this is not always the case, and last Friday’s performance by Peter Frampton and Greg Allman was far from a letdown. Actually, it was quite the opposite. Two equally legendary rock icons got onto that stage and stuck to their roots while proving once and for all that they haven’t lost an ounce of musical talent.
Leading off on the steaming hot Red Hat Amphitheater stage was Frampton. He was hardly an opener, but rather part one of a double feature. I’ve heard stories of the complexity of Frampton’s live guitar tone, but hearing is believing. His sound is always a sum of multiple signals going to multiple amps, but at the heart of it all is a clean Custom Les Paul straight into a 4x12 Marshall. His tasteful use of effects were secondary to his absolute control of the guitar. There are few that can play with such ease and mobility. Liberal use of a “TALK BOX” is always welcome in my book, and Frampton’s precision and creativity proved unalterable song after song. To top it off his voice seems to only improve with age, enough said.
Overall Frampton’s performance felt natural and unscripted. Hits like “Show Me the Way” and “Do You Feel Like We Do” had everyone on their feet in no time. The show was laden with five minute solos, extended arrangements, and even an instrumental jam to “Black Hole Sun”. Frampton’s ability to alter lyrics and play around with his arrangements was almost frightening. Entire lines were omitted or changed while keeping the original feel and style intact. This level of musicianship is rare in modern music where arrangements are set in stone due to backtracks and complex light shows. In the crowd I felt an overall appreciation for artistry and musicianship. An eclectic mix of individuals were on a mission to absorb the magic of songwriting and improvisation. Closing their set with “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” was a fitting and emotional end for all, and a tribute to one of Frampton’s great influences, The Beatles.
Once the sun and stage were set, a familiar yet underappreciated genre graced my ears, the blues. Greg Allman’s band was strong in number and funk. A full band featuring Allman on Hammond Organ and a three piece horn section brought a new meaning to the word “pocket”. Kicking it off with slow burners like “Statesboro Blues” and “Come and Go Blues” let everyone in the house know what the tone of the night was going to be.
Allman seamlessly bounced back and forth between acoustic and organ while soulfully producing some of the best vocals around. His endearing sound continues to refine with age, giving his messages implied wisdom and experience. Paying tribute to song and artist, Allman covered Muddy Waters with “I Love the Life I Love” to great success. Among the set were songs like “Multicolored Lady”, “I’m No Angel”, and “Whipping Post”, all to be closed down by an encore of “One Way Out” which featured Frampton on guitar and vocals.
Of the two artists, I would have to take my hat off to Frampton for taking more musical chances and adapting to multiple playstyles. Arrangements were guidelines that were meant to be broken, thus creating a completely unique musical experience. Allman stuck to the opposite side of the spectrum, paying homage to the originals and sticking to his roots. Both approaches were commendable and combined to produce a thrilling and unique evening.
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