Phil Collins in concert at the Royal Albert Hall on Sunday 4th June 2017. Review and photographs by Ostein Hage.

He finally turned it on again…

He can’t turn back the years but now he finally turns it on again. It proves he’s not dead yet! He has even promised me four more nights and I am absolutely in the air tonight, tonight, tonight I will be dancing into the night like an invisible touch. Even though I really can’t dance. But I don’t care anymore. Because I will always follow you and I hope you will follow me too. Sadly, we still live our separate lives, but only you and I know you’ll be in my heart. This is just the way it is! I cannot believe its true but this will definitively be four days in paradise!

You know what I mean…

He is finally not dead yet. What a triumphant return for one of the world’s biggest pop stars. Phil Collins gave the audience in London a night in paradise.

Nearly twenty three years after he played a full concert at the Royal Albert Hall, he was back. Last time, before Christmas in 1994 he finished the Both Sides tour of Europe at the Royal Albert Hall. On Sunday 4th June 2017 he was back, starting the official European mini tour. Yes, he did a show two days before in Liverpool but it was this RAH show which was the real start of the tour.

Collins was welcomed back as a king. Phil lurched out on stage, the cheers nearly lifted the ceiling of this 146 year old building. He was welcomed as a king returning from a twelve year long war. I guess Collins never will forget this warm welcome.

As in Liverpool, he started with Against All Odds sitting in his chair. An odd song to start with but maybe he needed to warm up his voice. A great version. The next one, Another Day In Paradise was like being back in November 1989. I suddenly felt young again. Next one out was One More Night which is a beautiful song but maybe a little dated? Compared with earlier versions this was quite close to the original. I missed the longer version with even more saxophone.

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The set’s weakest song in my opinion, Wake Up Call is too noisy and a bit boring. With his song catalogue, it would have been easy to choose a better one, even from the dull last proper album, Testify. As Phil described it himself, it was twenty people who bought the album back in 2002. I think he should have chosen another tune.

As at the Liverpool show, Follow You Follow Me was one of the absolute highlights. A beautiful song and singalong from the Genesis catalogue. It also included a nice video projection showing clips from his time with the band/ It also reminded me of some of the videos during the Turn It On Again tour back in 2007. But Phil had real problems singing it this evening. He missed the tone several times, especially at the beginning, He also had problems with the high notes and forgot some of the lyrics. It was a bit sad because he had done a great version at Liverpool. An ecstatic audience saved the song with their participation. The version he did the day after at the second show here was much better.

The rest of the first set included the same songs as those which had been played at Liverpool including a beautiful Can't Turn Back The Years from Both Sides, a bluesy version of I Missed Again and a rocking Hang In Long Enough. Both of these showed us how great the Vine Street Horns are, It brought the audience to their feet and got everyone up and dancing. It was nice to hear this Face Value tune again, even if he had played it back in 2004-05 too. Hang In Long Enough is one of the songs from But Seriously that still sounds fresh and new.

The lighting was beautiful during this song. A red wall behind the band showed images and this was one of my favourites of the evening.

The last song of the first half was Only You & I Know from No Jacket Required which was also a surprise, but not my favourite in the show. It was nice that Phil had chosen it but I felt it sounded a bit too dated. Inside Out , I Don’t Wanna Know or Who said I Would, would have been better in my opinion if he wanted to surprise us with a song from this album.

After the break we got to know his son, Nicholas far better. Together with percussionist Luis Conte, they did a great drum duet/ I really miss the double drums with Chester and Phil but this was a great opener to the second half. Nicholas really impressed me, and I guess Phil is proud of his son.

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I Don’t Care Anymore was one of the absolute highlights during the show. The song is what Phil Collins’ music is all about, a great tune with it s drum driven rhythm, this is what I love about Phil Collins. So much feeling and he nailed the vocal perfectly too.

The rest of the set was fundamentally his greatest hits except for a beautiful version of You Know What I Mean with Nicholas on the piano, they did a wonderful version of this classic Face value song. In a way this is a forgotten beauty. In the Air Tonight is always great but this version lacked the power of earlier ones.

Something Happened On The Way To Heaven , You Can’t Hurry Love, Dance Into The Light, Invisible Touch, Easy Lover and Sussudio were all good versions. He got the w audience up and dancing and singing but I missed Phil’s on stage antics too.

As an encore he did the Vera Lynn song, If You Really Love Me and finished with Take Me Home. The first was a a big surprise and I guess everybody thought he would sing Going Back. He used to sing Always at earlier shows and this was a nice alternative in the same tradition. As he had during Follow You Follow me, he had problems with the high notes but as usual, the audience were there to help him out.

The stage was smaller and there was not so much visuals and lighting as with Genesis but the stage designers have done a great job. Colourful and smooth. The show brought out many emotions, and I think there was not a dry eye during Follow You Follow Me.

Over all it was a great set. It was fantastic to see Phil back on stage, but seeing him sitting down for the whole concert reminded us how old he is and how much he has been through in the last few years. We can only hope that he gets better because he still has his voice - even though he had some problems with it during the show.

I was present both at the Liverpool gig and at the second night at the Royal Albert Hall too, and sadly the first night was the weakest one, he definitely got better on the second show!

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Thanks for the review Oystein and for your company at the Liverpool and Royal Albert Hall gigs. Look forward to seeing you and the family at Hyde Park!