The weather in Asbury Park was perfect. The company was great. The guitars were screaming. Peter Frampton was putting on a wonderful show… and then there were technical difficulties…
Wait, I am getting ahead of myself, let’s backtrack a few years. In 2005 I tried to see Mr. Frampton live. The show was canceled, and subsequently postponed to a time where I was out of town. Since then, I have tried to see him play each time he has come within 100 miles of me, and each time I have been unable to make it for one reason or another… In case you couldn’t tell, I’m a fan of Peter Frampton, and I have been waiting a long time to see him play.
So, the show was on, and Frampton was great; he’s a guitar playing monster. His attack on solos is vicious yet beautiful, and his stage presence is equally aggressive, yet dignified. His band was on, he was clearly having a blast, and it reflected in the quality of his music. He was playing a nice mix of old and new, fan favorites and obscure new songs for the real fans… That became clear when he mentioned playing material from his Fingerprints album, and the response was cheers and clapping from a small portion of the audience (for the record, I shouted loudly).
He played a slightly edgier rendition of Show Me the Way, and killed on the instrumental, Boot it Up. Then sent my mind wandering with a beautiful performance of Lines On My Face. My only real complaint was that the acoustics were too bassy, but that seems like a recurring issue at the Stone Pony (among many other venues).
They had my attention completely. I was entranced and enthralled, sucked into their music in a way that only the best performers can achieve. Then Frampton announced that he was going to do his instrumental cover of Soundgarden’s Black Hole Sun; I was so insanely happy. Every once in a while a band will play a song that you desperately want to hear, but don’t actually think they will play. This was one of those moments.
A few bars in, he suddenly stopped playing, and waved off the band. Something was wrong, but I honestly couldn’t tell what it was. The roadies were hard at work trying to fix his guitar rig while the audience watched a dark stage. After a while Frampton remarked, “Fucking computers!” and began playing an acoustic song (I can’t even remember what he played). After he finished, the stage went dark for a few minutes.
When he started playing again, one thing was clear; Peter Frampton was mad as hell. He played with a rage that is usually reserved for angsty teenagers. The rage served him well on Money, (I’ll Give You), where he swapped solos with guitarist Adam Lester; the back and fourth was wonderful. The rage wasn’t so great on Do You Feel Like We Do, but it’s such a classic anthem that no one cared.
After finishing Do You Feel Like We Do, he gave his guitar to his roadie and bolted off stage, never to return. The time was about 9:30, and he was scheduled to play until at least 10:15. He didn’t say a word to the audience about leaving. No “thank you.” No “I’m sorry that we had technical difficulties, I wish I could have given you more this evening.”
The man stormed off like a child. Worse still, it took about 15 minutes for anyone to step up to the mic and tell the audience that there would be no encore. I had already left because it was clear as day that the amps were off and the roadies were taking things apart, but I heard the announcement on the PA as I walked to my car.
Mr. Frampton, your audience did nothing wrong. There was no reason to act like a prima donna, and treat your fans with such disrespect. You are supposed to be a world class performer. You could have found a way to continue entertaining your fans, but you chose not to. You could have finished the show with a different set list, or done acoustic renditions of your songs. It wouldn’t have been the show you had planed, but it would have been memorable for being so different. Instead, I will remember this show because you were a selfish asshole (Example: Jordan Rudess after his keyboard broke during a Liquid Tension Experiment show in Chicago).
All you would have had to do was man up and apologize. I would have been disappointed, but I wouldn’t be pissed off.