“Seeing Both Sides” - Phil Collins in concert at the Prins van Oranjehal, Utrecht, Holland on Saturday 9th April 1994. Review by Richard Nagy.
Reading in the programme notes written by Phil prior to the start of the show. I was interested to see that the concert would be presented as a two part event, lasting almost three hours with a fifteen minute interval.
With dry ice drifting across the stag, we approached 8 o’clock start and the crowd were singing along almost like a football crowd and doing the Mexican Wave routine. The house lights flickered and went out and Phil emerged from a small doorway in a shack placed centre stage of the set which can only be described as a cross between an American ghetto and the “Industrial Zone” from Channel 4’s Crystal Maze. Phil then took off his disguise of an overcoat and trilby to position himself in front of a heavily disguised drum kit of mock trash cans and oil drums, a small drum meander and then the arrival of co-drummer; Ricky Lawson which resulted in a small duet before the familiar beat of I Don’t Care Anymore which opened the show and Phil reluctantly left the drums to sing what was for me, possibly the best set opener. Don’t Lose My Number followed showcasing Daryl. After an introduction in Dutch, Phil announced the format of the show…. “We’ll play the blues first off and then we’ll have a party later… we are actually going to be here a long time so make yourselves comfortable…”
Everyday on the piano was followed by Survivors which wasn’t as strong here as it was on the album. A straightforward version of Another Day In Paradise follows before I Can’t Find My Way signals the first of a clutch of slower songs which has a fine bass solo from Nathan East towards its end. I Wish It Would Rain Down is next with Daryl not trying to be a Clapton and Phil delivered the tormented lyric with great gusto. One More Night attached itself to the end of this quite successfully.
With Phil still at the keyboards, A Groovy Kind Of Love is greeted with loud cheers before Phil heads for a solitary snare drum at the side of the stage with an almost Battle Of Epping Forest styled intro which launches the band into We Wait & We Wonder, a great version of what is arguably the best song on the album. A rather flat version of I’ve Forgotten Everything makes way for a forceful Both Sides which involved audience participation and brings the first half of the show to a close.
With fifteen minutes to wait, you feel as if the concert has already finished. Still digesting the music already played with the house lights still on, the drum beat to In The Air Tonight quietly starts over the house muzak. White vari-lites shine randomly shattering through the dry ice whilst Daryl’s guitar break sets the atmosphere before Phil stalks down the stage to sing his first solo hit, which sounds as good as ever. This is the last we see of Phil at the drums and it signals the start of “party time” as the Vine Street Horns set up residence at the back of the stage. Hang In Long Enough sets the mood and tempo with brass involved in every track from now until the encores. No more new songs are played and so instead we get a sort of “Greatest Hits”. Another serious song follows with Find A Way To My Heart followed by It Don’t Matter To Me and I Missed Again (for the first time since 1982 and with an improvised middle section) as well as Behind The Lines in quick succession. The light show seems to get brighter and brighter as backing vocals by Nathan East and Arnold McCuller take us through Easy Lover. Only You & I Know thunders along as does the snappy Something Happened On The Way To Heaven. A short selection of band intros sees Phil asking Ricky which song he would rather play as opposed to this “muzak crap” to which he replies with the drum beat of You Can’t Hurry Love - as on the last tour, this is followed by Two Hearts and Sussudio which bring the party to an end.
The first encore is a quiet song written by Paul Brady (title unknown) which is followed by Against All Odds which is like meeting an old friend at the end of a party, being as it is my favourite Collins song. It fits perfectly at the end of a great evening. So there has been no West Side or Hand In Hand finale, but Take Me Home will do nicely, thank you! The usual band/audience echo at the end sees Phil lead all of the players through the door of his “shack” before donning his overcoat and hat to leave himself, returning only to switch off a make-believe mains switch that plunges the stage into darkness and simultaneously brings the house lights on. It’s all over and I am left to reflect on my first continental show; jumping around one minute, moved to tears the next. Anyone who can stretch the emotions as well as Phil does is alright by me - long live the memory!