“Another Day In Paris” - Phil Collins live in concert at the Palais Omnisports de Bercy Paris on Wednesday 18th April 1990. Review by Alan Hewitt. Memorabilia: TWR Archive. Photographs by Guido Truffer and David Birtwell.
Well, your roving reporter has done it again! Paris round three. This time it is the turn of the irrepressible Phil Collins who is currently on a mammoth world tour. Phil’s four shows in Paris were all sold out before we arrived and tickets were like gold dust and I wondered what kind of performance we were going to see.
After the usual trip around Paris in the afternoon in the company of a couple of maniacs (thanks to Ian and Mike for the laughs) we trouped into the venue for the show. Bercy seems more impressive each time I go there - why don’t we have venues like this here in the UK?
Phil’s stage set up was masked by a carousel from a fairground and I was surprised when it broke into pieces and rose up as the show started because from where we were sitting it looked like a curtain. The show opened with Hand In Hand which was a surprising set opener. Form the outset the show was a real eye opener. The lighting effects and sound system were excellent without being overpowering. Two racy numbers followed to really get the audience in the mood: Hang In Long Enough and Who Said I Would? Both full of energy and delivered with real gusto by Phil and the band.
Most of the Fabulous Jacuzzis and The Hot Tub Club were present at the show along with several new additions including the brilliant Harry Kim on trumpet along with the “Seriousettes”: Arnold McCuller, Bridgette Bryant and Fred White as backing singers and the excellent Brad Cole replacing Peter Robinson on keyboards. All in all, I would say that this was Phil’s best band so far and everyone seemed to be having a good time on stage.
The tempo slowed a little for the next number; the melodic Against All Odds delivered with all the poignancy that Phil could muster. Another up tempo number followed with Doesn’t Anybody Stay Together Anymore? And another slow number: All Of My Life which is one of my favourite songs from the new album.
Throughout the entire show Phil spent a great deal of time introducing the songs in both English and French for the benefit of both contingents in the audience, which was greatly appreciated by everyone.
Don’t Lose My Number followed with some really excellent performances from all the band especially Daryl Stuermer and Chester Thompson. Do You Remember, Something Happened On The Way To Heaven and Another Day In Paradise were all punchily delivered and with an added nice touch during the intoduction to the latter when Phil announced that a collection was taking place for the homeless charities within the city. I must admit this song was one of the highlights of the set for me as the audience lit up lighters and matches to fill the arena with tiny pin pricks of light - and make the fire marshals tear their hair out too, no doubt!
Next up was a surprise as Phil launched into the beautiful Separate Lives which featured a delightful cameo role for Daryl on acoustic guitar and Bridgette Bryant as his accompanist. Just as we were beginning to relax, the Phoenix Horns unleashed the raucous energy of Saturday Night, Sunday Morning on us, followed rapidly by the urgency of The West Side, both of which amply demonstrated the real talent of these brilliant players.
A brief respite was given while Phil introduced That’s Just the Way It Is before another barnstorner in the form of Heat On The Street which lived up to its name, getting the audience to generate a fair head of steam in the already overheated arena. Phil was like a true blue circus ring master, bringing the audience to a peak of excitement before calming us down again only to build everything up to another crescendo of entertainment , keeping us permanently on our toes.
One More Night was delivered with customary expertise and the writer wished he’d had one or more nights to go through this incredible show again!
The “serious” aspect of the show had already been highlighted by Another Day In Paradise but it was brought into even sharper focus by Colours, Phil’s anti Apartheid anthem which sounded surprisingly disjointed on the album but NOT at the show where it really came to life. In The Air Tonight was next up and any Phil Collins show would not be the same without it. Tonight’s version was a little different, having a few more bars added but losing none of its percussive edge or dramatic effect.
Sensing our need for a rest, Phil took the opportunity to introduce the band to us - an even more lengthy procedure than usual, and as usual accompanied by some light hearted banter centring around a pair of dark glasses and Chester and the sum of 2000 Francs. All was revealed as Chester put on the dark glasses and launched into the opening drum pattern from You Can’t Hurry Love which got the last few remaining audience members not already on their feet, up and dancing in the aisles as party time broke out in Bercy!
The part atmosphere continued with Two Hearts and a new version of Sussudio and everyone really entered into the spirit of the evening and nothing could stop the crowd as they sang and clapped along with A Groovy Kind Of Love before boogieing to the syncopated rhythms of Easy Lover.
As usual, Phil had chosen an old song as an encore and this year’s is a real tear-jerker: Always a gem that seemed to sum up the feelings of the crowd as well. Mission accomplished, the unconverted converted and the true believers with their faith restored, Phil and his mini orchestra left the stage to rapturous and deserved applause only to return for a final encore to raise the roof - Take Me Home, expressed the sentiments of everyone in the arena and made me look forward even more to his shows at the NEC in July.
The show over, we all trouped out into a warm Paris night to begin the long haul home made even more enjoyable by the presence of a really great crew on the coach, so thanks again to John Mrs “John”, Dave and Nicki, Ian and Mike (Alias Gilbert) and to Jimmy our courier for all the laughs. Special thanks to Phil and Co for a marvellous show - see you in July!
Editor’s Note: The “John” referred to in the credits is a certain Mr John Wilkinson who some of you may know these days from his appearances fronting Face Value and more recently Mama - small world, innit?