“A Tale Of Four Cities” - Phil Collins in concert at several locations. Review and photographs by Francis Comtois.
I didn’t know what to expect when Phil announced his Not Dead Yet tour on 17th October 2016 (which back then was only a small series of shows in England, Germany and France) but I remember thinking that it might be the last time I get the chance to see him perform live. Little did I know that this tour would span two years (and counting!) and would take him all around the world.
Instead of giving the usual blow by blow account of the shows I have attended, I have decided that I would give my overall impressions of each of the shows that I have attended…
1. Royal Albert Hall London 4th June 2017.
The first show was a rollercoaster of emotions. To be honest, after listening to the first three songs (Against All Odds, Another Day In Paradise and One More Night) I felt sad and, dare I say, a bit embarrassed for Phil because I thought at the moment that he was really a shadow of his former self. His voice was weak, the show had very little energy, the show visuals were limited and the overall show was not, in my view, up to the usual standard. At best it felt like an early rehearsal.
However, the show and the crowd gradually warmed up and by the time Hang In Long Enough began, the entire crowd was ecstatic. They were really cheering for Phil. Everyone was on their feet dancing and singing along to the songs. It felt like the crowd was determined for the show to work and, for a lack of a better word; it became a “celebration” of Phil’s music rather than a concert.
There are two little oddities with this show (compared with the others below). First there was an intermission during which a fake TV advertisement referencing Phil’s career was played on the video screen., and second Phil ended the show by playing If You Love (Really Love Me) an English version of Edith Piaf’s Hymne a L’Amour as an encore which was dropped early from the setlist during the tour. In this regard I am not surprised the song was dropped because it didn’t really fit the pace of the show at all.
I thought I would miss Chester playing drums but I must say that Nic did an excellent job during the show (and all the other shows I saw him perform).
Overall, it was an excellent concert because of the crowd. I left the show feeling happy thinking it was maybe the last time I would see Phil performing live. I was scheduled to attend the concert on 8th June 2917 but it was cancelled due to Phil injuring himself in his hotel room.
2. Bell Centre Montreal 16th October 2018.
The second show was quite different from the Royal Albert Hall concert. Phil’s voice was definitely stronger, the band looked definitely more confident and the show had significantly improved visually. It finally felt like a normal Phil Collins concert.
A couple of new songs were added to the setlist (Who Said I Would and You’ll Be In My Heart) whilst a few more r were removed (Wake Up Call, Only You & I Know; I Don’t Care Anymore and If You Love (Really Love Me) ). In this regard I can’t say I missed any of th songs that were removed and I was happy enough to hear Who Said I Would love for the first time.
Phil talked about his love of and long history with Montreal and the crowd reciprocated the best it could to show him they had missed him. All in all, it was a very good show!
3. Qudos Arena Sydney 21st January 2019.
Musically, this show was the best I have seen during this tour and it had the best setlist: a couple of new songs were added (Throwing It All Away and Inside Out) whereas You’ll be In My Heart was removed. Throwing It All Away was an obvious crowd pleaser but I did not expect that I would hear Inside Out segued into Who Said I Would which was a really superb addition. Another highlight was Separate Lives performed as a duet with Phil and Bridgette Bryant which shows how talented she is and why her addition to this tour was great decision by Phil.
Otherwise, Phil appeared to be in great shape and good spirits! The entire concert really felt like it had really matured. A great performance from Phil and the whole band. The (huge) crowd was also engaged, not as much as in Canada or England but it was good enough for my liking.
4. Friends Arena Stockholm 12th June 2019.
Personally, I think this was my least favourite show so far. Althogh Phil and the band were great, I felt that the crowd was a bit flat and the whole experience felt more “mechanical” this time than a memorable experience. In this regard, Phil did not have much to say except that the album Duke had been partially recorded in Stockholm.
This time limited changes were made to the setlist. Only Don’t Lose My Number was added, whereas Inside Out was dropped. I find it a bit of a shame that Inside Out was dropped in favour of Don’t Lose My Number being played for the 1000th time in concert. Then again, it is not surprising that Phil is dropping a relatively unknown song for one of his most recognisable hits.
Overall, a good show but not a memorable one.
There you have it, thank you Francis for sharing your thoughts on these gigs with us here at TWR.