By Andy J. Gordon
Steve Miller and Peter Frampton, two legends of classic rock, brought their live shows to The Greek Theatre in Los Angeles on August 11, 2018. Both have been making great music for decades and they still have the musical chops to captivate a big crowd. Their sets on Saturday night at The Greek Theatre brought back fond memories with a heady mix of popular radio hits, blues classics and searing guitar solos.
Frampton and his band opened the show. He had his greatest success as a solo artist in the early 1970s and with the 1976 release of the multi-platinum selling live album Frampton Comes Alive. His Greek set included several tracks from that live album to the delight of the crowd. The 68-year-old musician is still in fine form with his distinctive voice and amazing guitar skills. “Show Me the Way” drew big applause as did “Baby, I Love Your Way.”
Frampton talked about his memorable experience working with other great artists like members of the Rolling Stones and Pearl Jam during his 2007 instrumental release titled Fingerprints that won the Grammy for Best Pop Instrumental. He said he grew close with Chris Cornell and his family during those sessions when he recorded a version of Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun.” At the Greek, Frampton dedicated the song to Cornell’s wife Vicki and their two children before launching into a scorching instrumental version. An image of Cornell was in the spotlight on the backdrop of the stage set during the song.
Near the end of his show, Frampton played “4 Day Creep,” a hard rocking song from his late-1960s band Humble Pie. Adam Lester, who plays guitar in Frampton’s current band, sang a verse and the two guitarists traded intense solos on their Gibson Les Paul guitars.
The show ended with a crowd favorite. As Frampton started playing the opening notes to “Do You Feel Like We Do” the audience went crazy. As Frampton and keyboardist Rob Arthur traded licks, everyone in the audience clapped rhythmically. When Frampton moved toward the talk box attached to his microphone for the iconic vocal effect, the audience got extremely loud. He teased that he would not use it, but after being implored to do so, he sang the lyrics through the box and the classic song wrapped up an outstanding set of music.
Next up was the Steve Miller Band, who are celebrating their 50th anniversary of recording and touring together. Miller is 74 and was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2016. With a lengthy catalog of hits, and a sound deeply rooted in the blues music he grew up with, the Steve Miller Band show at the Greek was loaded with songs that everyone knew. The packed house sang along with most of the tunes as Miller sounded just as good as he did back in the 70s.
The early part of the set included hits from the 1960s through to the 1980s with songs like “Abracadabra,” “Livin’ in the USA,” “Space Cowboy” and “Take the Money and Run.” Miller then took a moment to talk about his childhood growing up around blues greats, including T Bone Walker, who was a family friend that he met when he was nine. Before launching into “Stormy Monday,” one of that blues legend’s classic tunes, Miller introduced T Bone’s daughter Bernita, who was in the audience.
Miller brought Peter Frampton out to the stage in the middle of the set. He talked about how they have known each other for fifty years and their careers paralleled – from playing ratty old burlesque clubs in the early days to sold-out shows at arenas and stadiums. The two traded licks and Frampton sang lead vocals on “Same Old Blues,” a 1941 Stax Records classic by Don Nix. Then Miller took over lead vocals for the Elmore James tune “Stranger Blues.” Hysterical old photos of the two artists with their flowing locks and hippy attire flashed on the video screens as they played. Both brilliant guitarists dueled with incredible solos and then Miller played a lengthy, screeching slide-guitar solo, too.
Frampton left the stage to thunderous applause and the remainder of the Steve Miller Band set was filled with hits from the 1976 album Fly Like an Eagle. Miller used his unique sounding sitar/guitar 19-string instrument for “Wild Mountain Honey.” The band also played the Texas Two Step tune “Dance, Dance, Dance.” The crowd really got into it for the trippy, psychedelic “Space Intro” before “Fly Like an Eagle.” The set ended with an enthusiastic “Rockin’ Me” that included a lengthy audience participation segment.
The band left the stage to loud applause but came back quickly for a three-song encore. Miller opened the encore with “The Joker” as that same-named 1973 album cover was projected on the backdrop of the stage set. The band followed with another classic, “Jungle Love.” Keyboardist Joseph Wooten played the haunting synthesizer instrumental “Threshold” before the entire band launched into “Jet Airliner” to close the amazing show.
The Steve Miller Band with Peter Frampton Summer 2018 tour wraps up in Woodinville, Washington, on August 26. These two legends put on fantastic live shows at The Greek Theatre in Los Angeles. If you have an opportunity to see them live, do not pass it up. Tour information is available on the Steve Miller Band website.