"Out of the fight and into the light" - the Phil Collins Story Part 5: Phil's departure from Genesis, the Big Band project and the Dance Into The Light album. Narrated by Alan Hewitt with thanks to H. Janisch, A. Callingham, M. Giammetti and J. "Armando" Guntrip.

The end of the "Both Sides" tour in May 1995 saw Phil at the very pinnacle of his success. The personal problems which had, to some extent inspired the album, were far from resolved however, and the incessant press reports from this period had little if anything to do with Phil's music and were more concerned with raking up whatever dirt they could about his private life and all the sordid details that the gutter press could invent. As Phil himself said in a recent interview with Michael Parkinson.... "They've (the press) lived in shit for so long that they've forgotten what it smells like...".

Given the amount of harassment that he had received, it was no real surprise to the fans when he decided to up sticks and move to the relative peace and quiet of Geneva, Switzerland where the new lady in his life, Orianne Cevey, lived. What did come as a shock to may however, was his decision to quit Genesis which was formally announced on March 29, 1996. This however, should really have been no surprise as the demands of the ever increasing balancing act that was necessary to try and keep the fans of both the band and Phil's solo work and the respective record companies happy, could not possibly last forever and Phil's own doubts had begun to set in during the recording of "Both Sides" when Genesis were asked to take part in a charity gig... "In September '93 Genesis did a concert with Queen but I didn't enjoy it. I went on stage and sang and as I was singing these songs, it didn't feel natural... it definitely felt like "what am I doing here?" Like shoes that don't fit anymore..."

Phil's first appearance after the end of the "Both Sides" tour was a charity gig at the Grand Casino in Geneva on January 27, 1996 for which he played a set comprising the following tracks: In The Air Tonight / Another Day In Paradise / Separate Lives / Can't Turn Back The Years / Something Happened on the Way To Heaven / The Way You Look Tonight / Against All Odds / Easy Lover / I Missed Again /Knocking on Heaven's Door / You Can't Hurry Love / Two Hearts / Sussudio / One More Night / A Groovy Kind of Love / Take Me Home

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Ticket for the
"Dance Into Europe '97" Tour

Fans were more surprised by Phil's next musical foray. His love of Big Band jazz was well known and he decided to indulge that love after an invitation to play at a celebrity concert held at London's prestigious Royal Albert Hall in honour of the visiting South African President, Nelson Mandela. It was also a chance for Phil to get back behind his beloved drumkit! For the project, Phil enlisted the help of legendary producer Quincy Jones and another of his heroes, Tony Bennett, on vocals. A small tour was arranged on the back of this show taking in the most prestigious European venues and for these shows Phil drew his set list from his own material and a couple of Genesis tracks suitably re-arranged for the Big Band "sound" as well as a selection of Big Band jazz classics and a typical set ran as follows... Two Hearts / That's All / The West Side / Against All Odds / Hand in Hand / Tony Bennett set / Drum-percussion duet-Los Endos / Always / Don't Do Nothin' 'til You Hear From Me / Sussudio.

Phil Collins "Big Band" Tour Dates 1996
Montreux Grand Casino (rehearsals) 01-09.07.96
Royal Albert Hall London 11.07.96
Monte Carlo Sporting Club 12-13.07.96
Perugia Giardini del Frontone 15.07.96
Antibes La Pinede 16.07.96
Montreux Stravinski Auditorium 17.07.96
Vittoria Polideportivo de Mendizorroza 20.07.96
Valencia Jardine de los Viveros 21.07.96

The shows at the Casino in Montreux were recorded for a proposed live album and video and a tour documentary was made about the shows by the BBC and broadcast in the UK on December 29, 1996 which made a change from the usually turgid Christmas musical fare!

Phil was also by now hard at work honing the songs that he had been writing while out on tour for "Both Sides" and the first fruits of that effort would appear on September 23, 1996 with the release of the title track from the forthcoming new album, "Dance Into The Light", which was an upbeat, catchy number which pierced the upper reaches of the UK chart upon its release. The single was all the more memorable for the fact that, apart from limited edition promotional singles, there was no vinyl release - the first time a record by Phil had not been issued on this format. Unusually there was also only one compact disc single which coupled the title track with another from the album and a home demo of an, as yet, unreleased track: "It's Over".

"Dance Into The Light" was finally released on November 21, 1996 and peaked at the number two position in the UK charts which was quite a shock for Phil's fans who were by now fully expecting an automatic entry at the number one position. This was even more surprising given the album's more accessible material compared to its predecessor. The album contained a few surprises not least the choice of the cover version of Bob Dylan's classic "The Times They Are A-changin'" as well as a hilarious look at obsessive fans that was "Wear My Hat" which was to become a firm favourite on the subsequent tour.

The follow up single to "Dance Into The Light" was issued in the UK on December 2, 1996. This was the romantic ballad "It's In Your Eyes", which was issued in the more normal two CD package coupling "It's In Your Eyes" with a live version of "Always" from the Big Band tour on the first CD and live versions of "Easy Lover" and "Separate Lives" on the second part. Sadly, this release failed to make any impression on the UK charts despite a number of television appearances by Phil in the UK at this time.

By now the preparations were also well in hand for the obligatory tour in support of the album which began with three weeks' pre-tour rehearsals at the Lakeland Arena in Florida before the tour began properly on February 28 1997 at Tampa's Ice Palace. As usual, the stage set up was highly innovative and this year's theme was that of the promenade deck of an ocean liner with lifebuoys and other maritime paraphernalia scattered around the round stage. Even the tour programme had a photo of Phil decked out (pardon the pun) like a cross between Popeye the Sailor and Captain Pugwash! The set managed to contain a healthy mix of old and new although there were several changes between the US and European legs. A typical US set ran as follows... Hand in Hand / Hang in Long Enough / Don't Lose My Number / River So Wide / Take Me Down / Find a Way To My Heart / Another Day In Paradise / Against All Odds / Just Another Story / Lorenzo / Separate Lives / The Times They Are A-changin' / You Know What I Mean? / One More Night / In The Air Tonight / Timbantiocha / Loco in Acapulco / Dance Into The Light / Easy Lover / Wear My Hat / You Can't Hurry Love / Two Hearts / Something Happened on the Way To Heaven / Sussudio / The Same Moon / Take Me Home

Phil Collins "Trip into the USA" Tour Dates 1997
Lakeland Arena (Rehearsals) 01-25.02.97
Tampa Ice Palace (load-in only) 27.02.97
Tampa Ice Palace 28.02.97
Orlando Arena 01.03.97
Miami Arena 03.03.97
Washington USAir Arena 05.03.97
Pittsburgh Civic Arena 07.03.97
Buffalo Marine Midland Arena 08.03.97
Detroit Palace of Auburn Hills 10.03.97
Dayton Edwin Nutter Centre 11.03.97
New York Madison Square Garden 13-14.03.97
Quebec City Colisee de Quebec 16.03.97
Montreal Molson Centre 17-18.03.97
Toronto Skydome 20.03.97
Ottawa Corel Centre 21-22.03.97
Boston Fleet Centre 24.03.97
Albany Pepsi (Knickerbocker) Arena 25.03.97
Hartford Civic Centre Coliseum 27.03.97
Philadelphia Corestate Centre 29.03.97
Penn State Bryce Jordan Arena 30.03.97
Grand Rapids Van Andel Arena 03.04.97
Cleveland Gund Arena 04.04.97
Chicago Rosemont Horizon 06.04.97
Champaign Assembly Hall 07.04.97
Indianapolis Market Square Arena 08.04.97
Milwaukee Bradley Centre 10.04.97
St Louis Kiel Centre 11.04.97
Kansas City Kemper Arena 12.04.97
San Jose San Jose Arena 15.04.97
Phoenix America West Arena 18.04.97
Las Vegas MGM Grand Garden 19.04.97
Los Angeles Arrowhead Pond 21.04.97

By the time the tour reached Europe several tracks had been changed and in most fans' opinion, the European shows were better balanced than their US counterparts. A particular highlight was the acoustic medley comprising "Do You Remember?", "Long, Long Way To Go" and "One More Night". A typical European set ran as follows... Hand in Hand / Hang in Long Enough / Don't Lose My Number / River So Wide / Take Me Down / Find a Way To My Heart / Another Day In Paradise / Just Another Story / Against All Odds / Lorenzo / Separate Lives / Both Sides of the Story / Do You Remember? / Long long way to go / One More Night / In The Air Tonight / Timbantiocha / Easy Lover / Dance Into The Light / Wear My Hat / You Can't Hurry Love / Two Hearts / Something Happened on the Way To Heaven / Sussudio / Take Me Home.

Phil Collins "Dance into Europe" 1997 Tour Dates
Barcelona Palau St Jordi 07.10.97
Milan Filaforum 08.10.97
Lyon Halle Tony Garnier 11.10.97
Geneva Arena 12-13.10.97
Zurich Hallenstadion 15-16.10.97
Berlin Deutschlandhalle 18-19.10.97
Frankfurt Festhalle 21-23.10.97
Stockholm Globe 25.10.97
Oslo Spektrum 26.10.97
Rotterdam Ahoy Sportpaleis 28-29.10.97
Hanover Messehalle 31.10.-01.11.97
Ghent Flanders Expo 03-04.11.97
National Exhibition Centre Birmingham 06-07.11.97
Newcastle Arena 09-10.11.97
Manchester NYNEX Arena 18-19.11.97
Dortmund Westfalenhalle 21-23.11.97
Stuttgart Schleyerhalle 25-26.11.97
Munich Olympiahalle 28-29.11.97
Vienna Stadthalle 01.12.97
Prague Sportovinhala 02.12.97
Leipzig Messehalle 7 04-06.12.97
Palais Omnisports de Bercy Paris 08-09.12.97
Dortmund Westfalenhalle 11.12.97
Earls Court Arena London 13-14.12.97
Earls Court Arena London 16-17.12.97

The tour was a great success and ended on a suitably high note with four sell-out shows at London's cavernous Earl's Court Arena in mid-December the first of which was broadcast by BBC Radio Two. During the European leg of the tour, Phil also chose to release the final single from the album and, as usual, the choice of tracks varied and in the UK it was the hilarious "Wear My Hat" accompanied by a brilliant video including a cameo appearance by Danny DeVito - although the accompanying three re-mixes on the one-part CD were uninspired in the extreme and probably contributed to the single's lack of success in the UK charts.

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Phil and the band in 1997

Phil's future plans (at time of writing this article) include a larger outing for the Big Band, a "Greatest hits" package and live video from the tour as well as work on the soundtrack to Disney's new animated Tarzan feature film as well as another album and we shall have more on all of these projects in the next installment of the Phil Collins Story!

Phil Collins UK Discography 1996-1997

Phil Collins UK Videography 1996-1998

As you would expect of someone with a profile as high as Phil's, there were various television and video appearances made during this period and the following is a listing of those which Phil made during the period covered by this feature of which we are aware...

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A selection of tickets from the "Dance Into The Light" Tour

My thanks to Annie Callingham, Mario Giammetti, Helmut Janisch, Frederic Martin, Jonathan Guntrip and Carol Willis for all their help in compiling this feature.