"Phil's Missed Again" - Phil Collins at The Scala, in the London Evening Standard, Thursday, November 7, 2002. Review by David Smyth.

It seems like the critics have their knives out for Phil again, folks. Here is another perception of Phil's gig at The Scala...

"There was a slight whiff of doom about Phil Collins' first concert since he publicly announced that he was half-deaf in one ear and would no longer be touring. Would he choose this evening to fully retire? Would he be able to hear any requests? Would he bellow all his lyrics like a pensioner with a faulty hearing aid? None of the above. The small crowd, invited by Radio Two to this one-off show, lapped up a professional, self-deprecating performance that showed that Collins has lost none of his enthusiasm for blasting through the old hits.

What it also showed is that these days he is running woefully short of ideas for decent pop songs. Having branched out with much success into Big Band music and soundtrack work (his music for Disney's Tarzan won an Oscar in 2000), tonight he was plugging his first straight album in six years, 'Testify', out on Monday. He barely mentioned it, however, throwing in the two last boring tracks near the beginning, before moving quickly on to what even he would surely admit is the good stuff.

He played the new single, an ordinary cover version of the Leo Sayer hit 'Can't Stop Loving You'. Not even Atomic Kitten could top the charts with a Leo Sayer song nowadays, so what chance does Collins have? Having freely admitted that he has no idea where he fits into contemporary pop music, now might be the time to acknowledge that in today's scene he is no more than historical interest.

Introducing 'I Missed Again', he said; 'This is another old one - mind you, most of them are old'. The he asked who remembered Saturday Club, whatever that is? Short of playing a lute, the saxophone solo is the easiest way to make pop songs sound incredibly dated, and Gerald Allbright played hundreds of them.

Most bizarrely, Collins was brought right up the minute last year, by an unlikely crew of admirers from the world of Hip Hop. On a compilation entitled 'Urban Renewal', scantily clad profanity enthusiast Li'l Kim tried her hand at 'In The Air Tonight' while rapping jailbird Ol' Dirty Bastard gave a unique take on 'Sussudio'. Why couldn't Collins have adopted some of his new friends' innovative production techniques to sound a bit more contemporary? On second thoughts, having heard Tom Jones's dire recent collaboration with rapper Wyclef Jean, maybe he's better off sticking to what he knows..."

Hmm... must have been at a different gig to the one I was at!