“One More Night at the Albert Pub” - Phil Collins in concert at the Royal Albert Hall, London, on Monday 5th June 2017. Review by Alan Hewitt. Photographs by Alan Hewitt and Veronique Pelletier.
So here we are once more… I know, wrong band but just as relevant as here I was once more, one of the privileged fans getting the chance to see Phil on what is almost certainly his last live outing and in the magnificent setting of the Royal Albert Hall to boot! Having seen the opening night of the tour in Liverpool a few days before (see review) I knew what to expect but even so, anticipation was high for this one.
|A packed house gave Phil the reception he deserved as he made his way forward to the stool set up for him between two argand lamps centre stage for the start of this evening’s show. Once again it was Against All Odds which got things under way. Some may think this a strange and somewhat subdued way to open a show but, as I said in my review of the opening night’s show in Liverpool, it was very much a statement of fact and intent that Phil opened with this one. To the faithful there to see Phil, the message may have been lost in the enthusiasm but these shows are as much about the audience as they are about Phil, and nothing was going to stop them having a good time.|
Phil was then joined on stage by the rest of his remarkable band of singers and musicians and the party was in full swing from the get go. With the show being the same as it had been in Liverpool once again, there were some unusual song choices which demonstrated that Phil was not merely trotting out the hits for an exuberant and receptive audience.
For me, the most enjoyable moments were also the ones which I didn’t think would affect me the way they did. Wake Up Call from Phil’s grossly underrated 2002 album, Testify came over infinitely better in the live context than it does on record. Of course, his nods to his “other band” Follow You Follow Me and, later on, Invisible Touch were rapturously received and, as Phil commented, one of his other band mates was there in the audience. Yes Mr Anthony George Banks was in the house but did not get up for a bash with Phil sadly.
Other highlights were a poignant Can’t Turn Back The Years and a driving I Don’t Care Anymore in which Phil’s son, Nicholas takes the plaudits as he did throughout the evening with an astonishing display of drumming behind his kit and indeed he similarly nailed the now famous drum part on In the Air Tonight which got a massive (and deserved) cheer from the crowd.
Of all the songs though, once again it was Dance Into The Light which really opened the floodgates for me and I saw the performance through a haze of tears.
The rest of the show was similarly made up of the cream of Phil’s inestimable catalogue before the show came to its inevitable conclusion with Take Me Home by which time the Royal Albert Hall had been turned into a party replete with festoons and confetti.
|Then it was all over yet again. Time for some reflection. It has to be said that Phil’s appearance when he came on stage at both of the gigs I saw did give me some cause for concern. He looks frail, there is no getting away from this fact. It was strange to not see him running around the stage like a teenager, but hey, neither do any of the rest of my musical heroes anymore… We are all getting on a bit you know! That said, Phil’s voice has lost nothing of its dynamism and in fact, I would say hat he sounded better here than he did when I last saw him with Genesis back in 2007. Even more surprising was the sound this evening. The Royal Albert Hall has always been famous for its poor acoustics but this evening, the sound was crystal clear throughout and accompanied by an equally impressive light show all of which, when added to a group of musicians such as those Phil has with him, results in a thoroughly professional and enjoyable show. OK, it was not the best Phil Collins gig I have ever been to, but with all that Phil has been through in the last few years it was certainly better than we had any right to expect and that is down to all of the people he has with him not only on stage but also to the crew, without whom none of this can ever happen and they all did a magnificent job.|
And so, once again all that remains are the usual thank you’s. First of all, of course, to Phil and each and every one of the wonderful musicians and singers he had with him for playing their hearts out for our entertainment. To Jo Greenwood t TSPM once again for all her help with this and so many other things. Finally, to the fans who always make such an event a joy and in particular this time to Brian and Bruce Lancaster, Stuart and Emma Barnes, Jonathan O’Neill and Kevin Burton. Oystein Hage and Wayne Proctor for their excellent company.