Old times, new times

Peter Frampton's concert Saturday night played to the memories and made new ones, too.

A row of front-row fans clap along with Peter Frampton and his band as they open their set for the "Frampton Comes Alive" tour stop at Cordiner Hall Saturday evening. Saturday, March 24, 2012

A row of front-row fans clap along with Peter Frampton and his band as they open their set for the "Frampton Comes Alive" tour stop at Cordiner Hall Saturday evening. Saturday, March 24, 2012 Photo by Matthew Zimmerman Banderas.

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Peter Frampton interacts with the crowd during his first couple of songs Saturday at Cordiner Hall.

— It was just like old times and not so much like old times at Saturday's Peter Frampton concert at Cordiner Hall.

Five minutes before showtime, a 20-foot line of women stood outside the bathroom waiting their turn while the men's room had no line.

Some things never change.

While Patty MacAlister waited her turn, she took a minute to eagerly confess she is still a Frampton fan, though maybe not as infatuated as she once was.

"I used to have his poster and I used to stare at his beautiful golden locks," MacAlister said

But the golden locks that were once admired by MacAlister and probably almost every 50-and-over woman in attendance on Saturday -- the majority of the group -- well, even Peter Frampton joked how his locks had long since receded.

"I don't care if I ain't got no hair; All I wanna be is by your side," Frampton sang Saturday night, slightly tweaking the lyrics to his classic "All I Wanna Be."

What didn't change from 35 years ago was the lineup of songs from the quintessential 1970s live rock album known as "Frampton Comes Alive," recorded in 1975 and released in 1976.

Thus 35 years later (plus one year because Frampton has been on his current tour that long), the band is playing every song from the iconic rock album, and has named the current tour Frampton Comes Alive 35.

The run through the album's lineup took the first 90 minutes of the show.

Then like in the old days, the band walked off stage and the crowd hollered for an encore.

As expected, the band came back and played again, this time performing several tracks from "Fingerprints" and Frampton's newest release, "Thank You Mr. Churchill."

In many ways, the fans hadn't changed.

As youths still do, they stood immediately when the first familiar chords were strummed to favorites like "Show Me The Way" and "Baby I Love Your Way" and "Do You Feel Like We Do."

There was even one lit lighter held up, but security said the fan was told to "knock it off."

What was different from Frampton's performances in the 1970s is that about halfway through those classic songs, someone in the front row would sit down.

What followed was a sitting-wave from back to front, as the 50-plus crowd gladly settled into the soft cushioned chairs of Cordiner Hall.

There was definitely more sitting than in the old days.

The clapping, cheering and eardrum-busting whistles still sounded like they did back in 1979, but there was a noticeable difference in decibel levels and acoustic quality, perhaps due to the fact that the concert was being recorded live.

It seems that this time around, Frampton opted to offer what many rock performers are selling these days, usually right after their concerts.

Along with the T-shirts, bumper stickers, keychains and bags, Frampton's sound crew was also selling recordings of the Walla Walla concert.

"That's unheard of. To cut a CD and have it immediately available after the concert is amazing," Shernie Wilkes said with a large smile, clutching her new CD.

Staff with Abbey Road Live were reluctant to reveal how many CDs were sold Saturday night.

But it was obvious from the half-hour line of people who paid $35 for a four-CD set that hundreds of packets were sold.

"It was a good night," crew chief Chris Harrington was willing to say.

According to the Abbey Road Live website, selling hundreds of CDs right after the concert and online afterward is not so unheard of.

Clients for the company also include Eddie Money, Bad Company, REO Speedwagon and The Pixies.

Another element that didn't change over 35 years was Frampton's voice, especially his signature use of a talk-box amplifier. This time Frampton did add a talk-box rendition of "Black Hole Sun" by Soundgarden.

Other covers performed by Frampton included Buddy Holly's "Peggy Sue" and an astounding rendition of the Beatles' "While My Guitar Gently Weeps."

Perhaps the most notable change on Saturday night had little to do with Frampton and a lot to do with Walla Walla.

Big name performers are common in Spokane, Boise or even the town of George, Wash., home of the Gorge Amphitheater, which held 20,000 when Tom Petty recently performed there.

But large venues are not found in Walla Walla, which is OK for Cindy Kromm, who came from Colfax, Wash., to see Frampton in Cordiner Hall, which has a seating capacity of 1,384.

"Small venues are amazing to get up close and personal with the artists," Kromm said.

But Kromm said she also went to see Tom Petty.

Looking at the current Frampton venue profile, it's clear Cordiner Hall was a good match -- most of Frampton's current venues run about 1,400 to 3,000 seats.

Now that the rock icon has come and gone, Kurt Schoen wonders who's the next big name he will get to see in his hometown of Walla Walla.

"I hope that since we filled the house that this will bode well for future concerts in Walla Walla," Schoen said.

Alfred Diaz can be reached at alfreddiaz@wwub.com or 526-8325.

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