At 11:30 p.m., a gaunt, bespectacled Phil Collins walked on to the stage of the Fillmore Miami Beach, flanked by his ex-wife Orianne Collins Mejjati and their young son, to tell the sold-out Little Dreams Gala crowd that he had to cancel his performance.
It was to be Collins first concert in over four years. He had suffered from nerve damage in recent years, as well as pancreatitis from alcohol abuse, but no specific reasons were given for why he would not be singing last evening.
Before her ex-husband took the stage, Collins-Mejjati said, "He had been at the doctor all day."
Later, Collins himself added, "We tried to do it, but my voice sounded bad at rehearsal. And at soundcheck, it sounded worse."
(Media was not allowed to photograph or video Collins' appearance.)
Addressing the crowd, he did not look to be in good health and seemed genuinely remorseful. So there were no boos, but a few scattered shouts of "We love you, Phil."
To which he remarked, "Usually when something like this happens half the people say, 'We love you, Phil' while the other half say, 'fuck you.'"
As Collins continued to address the crowd he seemed to realize, "It sounds like I could sing, but you wouldn't enjoy it." Which had people yelling, "Yes, we would." But his mind was made.
Though the audience in the room seemed to take it well, there was much grumbling from fans leaving the venue who'd paid ticket prices ranging from $103.50 to $353.50.
All the proceeds benefitted Collins' charity, the Little Dreams Foundation, which raises funds to support aspiring musicians, artists, and athletes. But even though the money went to a good cause, there was still much disappointment, as evidenced by dozens of comments on Little Dreams' Facebook page, reacting to the way Collins' cancellation was announced.
If, as Collins said, he knew at soundcheck that he would not be performing, then perhaps he should have taken the stage at the start of the evening and made his same apology, thanked the crowd for supporting a worthy cause, and promised a wonderful night of music by the young beneficiaries of their foundation as well as other best selling artists.
Delivered in that manner, maybe it would not have seemed so unsavory.
Instead, for over two hours, the emcee and opening acts like Alejandra Guzman, Laura Pausini, Richard Marx, and Gigi D'Alessio hinted that Collins would soon be taking the stage to sing.
The lowest moment was when an auctioneer took to the stage at 10:45 for a half hour, pawning off luxury items in front of a drawn curtain behind which it seemed they were setting the stage for the headliner's set.
It's understandable that a musician would only like to be heard when he is at his best. But since the night was for a cause to aid aspiring musicians, a better lesson could have been taught.
Even if Collins wasn't close to 100 percent, he could have embodied that old quote for the young kids: being a professional is doing the things you love to do, on the days you don't feel like doing them.
© Miami NewTimes, by David Rolland