Peter Frampton, Saturday 12 November 2022, Cirque Royal, Brussels, Belgium

Posted: 151122

Review Lex Dresianes

Tour: Final: The Farewell Tour

I must admit I was moved when the news about legendary musician Peter Frampton's illness was released: he suffers from the incurable muscle disease inclusion body myositis (IBM), already at an advanced stage. He will not be able to perform in the near future, his muscles and fine motor skills, vital for any musician, are slowly but surely failing. When the farewell tour was announced, I immediately tried to book tickets; however, unfortunately, I was too late for the only Dutch gig, in Haarlem, of all places. So I looked for the nearest alternative, which turned out to be the Brussels theater Cirque Royal, in the center of the Belgian capital. An old theater, dating from 1878, a bit like the Amsterdam Carré but less well maintained. A fitting environment for the ancient warrior.

Jack Broadbent opens the show this evening, a young Englishman who sings Leadbelly/Robert Johnson-esque Mississippi delta blues in an extremely passionate way and accompanies himself on slide guitar in a truly terrifying way. He got a decent round of applause, no small task acting as a support act, especially when half the audience is still trying to find their seat. But the international audience mainly came for this evening’s main act.

Peter Frampton is supported by a crew member as he takes the stage, to rapturousapplause. He looks fragile, but the boyish smile betrays excitement. When he finally starts, around a quarter past eight, the band immediately kicks off with a powerful rendition of Something's Happening from the 1974 album of the same name, a personal favorite. This song is followed seamlessly by the equally rocking Lying and the ballad Lines On My Face, another iconic song. Only then does he take the time to address the audience, the toneis loose, humorous, warm and expectant. The legendary Show Me the Way, including famous ‘talk-box’, should of course not be missing, the song became a huge worldwide hit for the then 26-year-old Frampton, especially in the live version from Frampton Comes Alive from 1976.

The lesser-known The Lodger follows, after which the rocking It's a Plain Shame, and the jazzy Georgia (On My Mind) are played. All I Wanna Be (Is by Your Side) and the, in my opinion, weakest song Breaking All the Rules, precede Black Hole Sun, dedicated to good friend and ex-Pearl Jam and Soundgarden drummer Matt Cameron. The trio (I'll Give You) Money, Baby, I Love Your Way (in a surprising, more rocky version) and the ultimate Frampton song Do You Feel Like We Do mark the end of the regular set.

But Frampton wouldn’t be Frampton if he wouldn’t finish on a high noteduring his last performance in Brussels. Time-honored Four Day Creep, with vocals from both Arthur and Lester, and the well-known version of While My Guitar Gently Weeps mark the final end of the concert. After two hours and fifteen minutes of continuous playing, it's done, over and out. The frenzied audience, who had been singing and clapping along to the well-known songs, emotionally say their goodbyes to the old master.

Peter Frampton is a legend in the world of rock music. He looks quite different nowadays, not surprising, we are almost 50 years later: the long curly hair has disappeared and a balding skull is clearly visible. The flashy stage outfit has also been exchanged for a simple shirt and jeans, much more appropriate in the theaters where he plays these days. The times of sold-out football stadiums and the adoration of a largely young audience now lies far behind. But what did remain, was that boyish, sympathetic appearance and last but not least, that great, extremely recognizable guitar playing. And his voice of course, which hasn’t lost any of its power, the really high notes are cleverly avoided. It doesn't seem to bother him, these altered circumstances, the smaller venues and ditto audiences. He still went for it, time and time again, with heart and soul. Which also makes him so pleasant, so touchable, even cuddly, nothing like the Hall of Fame star from the past. He could even joke about it, as is also apparent from his humorous autobiography, Do You Feel Like I Do?, highly recommended by the way. He's in his element this evening, joking and full of banter, lavishly sprinkling with anecdotes, his energy seems boundless.

The band, also seated out of solidarity with their leader, is in great shape this evening, most of them have been with him for years. Like keyboardist/guitarist/singer Rob Arthur and drummer Dan Wojciechowski, this particular tour playing on the original green Ludwig drum kit once owned by John Siomos, who died in 2004. Bassist Steve Mackey must be deaf by now, leaning against Adam Lester's big guitar amp. The latter is without a doubt the best musician around, a phenomenal guitarist who also stands his ground vocally.

The setlist consists of a cross-section of Frampton’s best work over the years, with some emphasis on, of course, the material from the seventies, his heyday. The covers, an inseparable part of his shows from the beginning, were also included: Georgia (Hoagy Carmichael), Black Hole Sun (Soundgarden), Four Day Creep (Ida Cox) and of course While My Guitar Gently Weeps, the iconic Beatles song written by his friend George Harrison, passed by. What do you mean, eclectic? From 1930s jazz to 90s grunge and from 20s jazz to the Beatles, the first two songs are also (largely) instrumental.

The show was actually exactly what I'm used to from him. Excellent catchy songs with a hook, driven vocals and heavenly guitar playing on that characteristic black Gibson '54 Les Paul Custom, nicknamed 'Phenix'. Seated on a chair/stool throughout the entire performance, but still with the same attitude he’s been known for so long: to produce the best possible show, handicapped or not. The actual farewell was emotional, his 'no goodbye, so long' sounded optimistic, against his better judgment. After all, the title of the tour was: Finale: The Farewell Tour.

Thanks Peter, for showing me the way, I truly feel like you do. Shine on!!

Setlist:

 

Baby (Something's Happening)
Lying
Lines on My Face
Show Me the Way
The Lodger
It's a Plain Shame
Georgia (On My Mind)
All I Wanna Be (Is by Your Side)
Breaking All the Rules
Black Hole Sun
(I'll Give You) Money
Baby, I Love Your Way
Do You Feel Like We Do
Encore:
Four Day Creep
While My Guitar Gently Weeps

Peter Frampton – guitars, vocals, talkbox
Adam Lester - guitars, vocals
Steve Mackey - bass guitar
Rob Arthur – electric piano, Hammond organ, synthesizers, vocals, guitars
Dan Wojciechowski - drums, percussion

The Royal Dutch Scam, Saturday, November 27, 2021, Cultuurpodium Boerderij, Zoetermeer

Posted: 301121

Review Lex Dresianes

Photo courtesy of Marcel Boshuizen (Cultuurpodium Boerderij)

Steely Dan's music is not easy to describe: a mixture of rock, jazz, funk, Latin, R&B and blues, smooth rhythms, virtuoso musicians and special lyrics probably doesn’t do sufficient justice. Messrs Donald Fagen and Walter Becker are responsible for some of the most iconic songs that defined the era. And still to this day. Although Becker passed away in 2017, Fagen continues to share the duo's musical legacy. As comedian/musician Mike Boddé points out: sometimes people don't even know that it’s Steely Dan's music, but most everyone recognizes the songs almost immediately.

Things have changed in recent years, but previously Steely Dan was mainly a studio band; there was little or no live performance, especially in the early days. No wonderthere’s certainly interestamong bands to revisitthe music. But that is no mean feat: the music is characterized by complex rhythms, special chord changes, intricate melodies and arrangements and many more things that make it extremely difficult for mere mortals to copy. In addition, the original used the very best of the (studio) musicians available. Solo spots were played by several world class musicians, if it wasn't to the liking of the demanding duo Fagen/Becker it soon meant: next! Take that as a true musician, one heck of a challenge.

However, The Royal Dutch Scam, which has been active for many years, succeeds wonderfully. Not surprising in itself: they are all top musicians, the crème de la crème of the Dutch scene, who have earned their spurs with the likes of Marco Borsato, Frank Boeijen and Ilse de Lange, among others. And, in most cases, know the complex tracks by heart. The name is a funny play on words, a contraction of Royal Dutch (Shell) and the title of Steely Dan's fifth album "The Royal Scam" from 1976.

For this series of shows, the band has teamed up with the aforementioned Mike Boddé. He acts as ringmaster and plays the piano. He hasn't quite found his feet yet, made apparent by fiddling with cheat sheets about the many interesting facts and anecdotes that are discussed. His piano parts are played from the tablature, no shame in that. The role of presenter was previously reserved for bandleader/saxophonist/singer Lo 'Garp' van Gorp. This time the focus for the sympathetic frontman is mainly on vocals and playing his alto-sax, he seems somewhat relieved by this role change.

A large part of the well-known hits of the legendary American band will be played this evening: it kicks off with FM (no static at all) and closes with Reelin' in the Years. In between are Babylon Sisters, Glamour Profession, Rikki don't lose that number, My Old School, Do it Again and Gaucho. And, fortunately, also perfect renditions of personal favorites such as Aja, Peg and Hey Nineteen. The highlight of the evening is a medley of all songs that were not supposed to be played (in their entirety). We are treated to short versions of Kid Charlemagne, Black Cow, Home at Last, Green Earrings and Bodhisattva.

Boddé touches on Steely Dan's paradox several times: beautiful, swinging music with a sharp lyrical edge: murder, suicide, incest, adultery, drugs and prostitution, certainly not for the faint hearted.

Although it is difficult to single out an individual performance, I would like to give extra compliments to drummer Mark Stoop and tenor saxophonist Tom Beek, absolute top-class what these guys demonstrate here. But everyone brought their 'A-game' this evening, including the swinging trio of female backing singers. There is only one downside: the gig lasted a mere 1.5 hours including encore, somewhat meager, especially with so much material available. So no Josie, Black Friday or Dirty Work but there is plenty to enjoy. Possibly the second show, later that evening, is partly to blame for the short duration.

About 180 men/women sign up for the first session: the matinee show starts at 4:30 pm, all seated. And I can tell you, it's quite comfortable. The disadvantage is that because of this theatrical setting, sitting to the right of the stage meant I never saw the third singer. Sound and light are, as usual, excellent, partly due to the presence of permanent sound engineer Lex Amrein behind the controls.

This intimate setting fits perfectly with the nature of the music, you get the idea of ​​a small jazz club. The connoisseur crowd reacts enthusiastically and treats the band members to a generous applause after each solo spot, as befits a jazz audience. The smooth and warm lead vocals, the steady groove of the drums, the funky bass, the jazzy keys, the sharp edges of the guitar, the funky/jazzy horns, not forgetting the swinging, soulful choruses, it all fits brilliantly and can easily withstand the comparison with the original.

When you consider that the original parts come from world class session players like Steve Gadd, Wayne Shorter and Larry Carlton, to name just a few, it demonstrates the capabilities of The Royal Dutch Scam’s musicians. This is without a doubt the best tribute band of ‘The Dan’ at the moment, a huge compliment.

The second show, later that evening, would also irrevocably mean the very last show before the start of the lockdown, the day after: the joke quickly spread that health minister Hugo de Jonge was a great admirer.

I've said before that I'm not a fan of tribute bands whose originals still exist; in fact, as I write this, Fagen cs. are in the middle of a major US tour. But this is the exception to the rule, what a great band. I had a wonderful afternoon and so did many others, I assume that the second session had the same effect on the audience. How can one sit still while listening to the music?! Go and see them as soon as you can: this is pure enjoyment.

https://royaldutchscam.nl/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mkFKn0b5i_0&t=11s

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4btTjp171JA

 

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