If there is one long-ago and lasting image of Peter Frampton at his golden-boy best — all soft, curly tresses and tight, satin outfits — it came from his two appearances at Philadelphia’s JFK Stadium. First, there was in the summer of 1976 showcase with Yes and 130,000 fans. Second, 1977’s similarly sold-out, humid evening concert with Lynyrd Skynyrd.
Now, at 69, with a diagnosis of inclusion body myositis (IBM), a progressive muscular disorder, the guitarist brought his “Peter Frampton Finale — The Farewell Tour” to the Met on Wednesday for a show so triumphant and buoyant you could hardly believe this guy had anything more than a cold. He might have played mournfully bluesy tracks in accordance with his recent album, 2019′s All Blues, and held the crowd in a tearfully emotive sway, but, for something billed as a finale, it sounded as if Frampton was just getting started.
Still as slim as the kid who played at JFK, yet, without the long locks — a fact he poked fun at on “All I Wanna Be (Is by Your Side)” and its “I don’t care if I lost my hair” lyric — Frampton’s voice and fleet-fingered solos were those of late ’70s prime. Whether recalling the rough and tumbling rock-and-roll of Humble Pie on “I Don’t Need No Doctor” or remembering his solo rise on the charts with middle-of-the-road “Baby, I Love Your Way,” Frampton was effortless.
That soulful sprightliness commenced when he and his tight, intuitive ensemble started the show with his usual opener — the jittery, 1974 solo cut, “Baby (Somethin’s Happening)” — moved seamlessly, without missing a beat, into a cover of Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours,” and wound up at the sing-along AM-FM staple “Show Me the Way.”
Though Frampton & Co. hardly shied from his past hits, he happily focused on deep cuts throughout the night, such as Humble Pie’s chesty “Four Day Creep,” and the blues of his youth, such as a giddily jazzy take on “Georgia On My Mind” and a rambunctious cover of Freddie King’s “Me and My Guitar.”
What was truly impressive, however, was how Frampton turned his own songs bluesier. While “(I’ll Give You) Money” became blues of the begging and pleading kind, the extended jam that was “Do You Feel Like We Do” was the night’s emotive highlight. With keyboardist Rob Arthur pulling languid Doors “Riders on the Storm” licks from his kit bag, Frampton was free to wrestle with his most nimble-fingered solo of the night — that’s saying something as every solo was focused and passionate — and freestyle like mad with his talkbox.