"Live At Roseland Ballroom NYC" - Phil Collins’ new live DVD reviewed by Alan Hewitt.

It is strange how live DVDs, videos or albums seldom manage to capture the excitement of the shows that they are documenting. Phil’s previous live films have been the exceptions that prove the rule though. Somehow the magic has always managed to seep through the TV screen and into my living room.

With only a handful of gigs in support of the Going Back album to draw upon, Phil opted to film the show from the Roseland Ballroom in New York, a somewhat run down venue by the looks of its frontage. Inside, it is a typical theatre of the type which there are sadly too few of these days. Surprisingly enough, when Phil took the stage at the start of the gig he looks very nervous and I have no idea why. The crowd are obviously partisan and are right behind him and his expanded band/orchestra from the very start.

The album which Phil is promoting features a wonderful mix of well known and less well known music from the glory days of the Motown label. With such a glorious catalogue of wonderful music to choose from, you would expect the resulting DVD to be a celebration, wouldn’t you? Well, sadly, this is not the case this time round. The opening salvo of tracks certainly gets the audience going although strangely enough, even the audience appears somewhat restrained here - maybe they were under orders to behave themselves, who knows?

The music itself is a glorious celebration of the Motown legacy and is performed brilliantly as you would expect from musicians of this calibre and having some of the musicians that created it in the first place, such as The Funk Brothers certainly brings a cachet to the show. Phil gives the audience, and by extension, us an explanation of the reasoning behind his decision to make the Going Back album and perform what is essentially a covers show but there is still the feeling that Phil is not altogether comfortable performing. Of course, this may be down to the continuing health problems which he has been experiencing recently? The show is stylish and well produced as we have come to expect from Phil, but to my mind, it lacks the spirit of previous efforts which is surprising given Phil’s evident relish for this music.

We are certainly not short-changed in terms of the amount of music on the DVD. There are some twenty six tracks here and each and every one is a bona fide classic in its own right. The extras are interesting too, featuring rehearsal footage and an interview with Phil in which he outlines the background to this project. This might not be the most satisfying DVD that Phil has ever released but you can’t fault the man for indulging his passions after all this time and if nothing else, the DVD and its accompanying album, brings the Motown catalogue back to vivid life so well done, Phil!

Phil Collins: Going Back - Live At Roseland Ballroom, NYC. Eagle Vision EREDV808