"Here we go round and round the NYNEX" - Phil Collins in concert at the NYNEX Arena Manchester, November 18, 1997. Review by Matthew Isaacs.On previous tours, Phil has always done everything possible to put on a superb show, but this time around he has pulled out all the stops and left no stone unturned. On this outing he decided to play in the round, with the intention of everyone having a decent view. The stage was built as if it were a ship. There were numerous dinghies placed on the outer rim of the circular stage and a matching circular lighting rig above it which made the stage look more like a space ship.
At 8.10pm as the house lights dimmed, the band walked on via a lift at the centre of the stage. "Hand In Hand" gradually started as Phil walked through the audience, down the steep stairs of the enormous arena to his drum kit, and proceeded to take the whole band into top gear. Phil exercised his call and response which the audience loved.
The show continued with meaty renditions of "Hang In Long Enough" and "Don't Lose My Number" before Phil introduced "River So Wide" which segued into a very tight version of "Take Me Down". Backing singer Amy Keys shone during "Find A Way To My Heart" and "Another Day In Paradise" was given a more dextrous treatment than before, and it was a joy to hear.
I was pleasantly surprised at how well "Just Another Story" sounded live. Ricky Lawson held a very steady but solid beat, and the muted trumpet playing from Harry Kim brought style and atmosphere to the song. "Against All Odds" was welcomed with tremendous applause, benefiting from a passionate saxophone solo from Earth Wind & Fire veteran Andrew Woolfolk.In my review of the "Dance Into The Light" album I was highly critical of "Lorenzo", largely because I was unaware of the touching lyrical content of the song. I will try and put this to rights by saying that live this song is a show stopper. There were two small sets of white drums at either end of the stage, which Phil used extremely effectively during "Lorenzo" and I advise him to release it as a single because it is destined to become a classic.
Phil on stage at the NYNEX Arena
(Photo - J. Guntrip/TWR)