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Perth concert review: Phil Collins is not dead yet, but struggling for a pulse

A rare expansive moment during Phil Collins’ concert at RAC Arena on January 28 A rare expansive moment during Phil Collins’ concert at RAC Arena on January 28 Duncan Barnes

No jacket was required on a balmy evening. However, at English music legend Phil Collins’ first Perth show since 1995 on Monday night, a walking cane and chair were necessary.

The Genesis drummer turned solo star — arguably the Ed Sheeran of the 80s — retired in 2002 due to chronic back injuries and other ailments, but announced a comeback four years ago.

"I’m going to be sitting down," Collins told the sold-out RAC Arena at the first of two big gigs. "I had a back operation a couple of years ago, foot’s f...ed ... not dead yet.

"That won’t stop us from having some fun."

Not Dead Yet is the cheeky title of the global comeback tour, which kicked off in mid-2017 and has travelled through Europe and the Americas.

Collins, who turns 68 on January 30, spluttered into 1984 power ballad Against All Odds on a swivel chair resembling one on which someone of his vintage might perch at the pokies.

The bald, bespectacled singer benefited greatly from his backing singers, and the impressively polished band of grizzled campaigners, including long-time bassist and Gandalf look-a-like Leland Sklar and Genesis touring guitarist Daryl Stuermer.

Phil Collins on the big screen and big band at RAC Arena on January 28 | Duncan BarnesPhil Collins on the big screen and big band at RAC Arena on January 28 | Duncan Barnes

<p">Collins’ 17-year-old son Nicholas — a chip off the old block on drums — significantly lowered the average age of the band, which swelled to 14 with the addition of the Vine Street Horns.

"It’s a good band, innit," the superstar quipped, and he was right.

The issue was that on big numbers, such as Something Happened on the Way to Heaven and I Missed Again, the guy with his name on the ticket was often lost among the bombast.

On late set highlight Easy Lover, Collins’ hit 1984 duet with Earth, Wind and Fire’s Philip Bailey, the backing singers carried the song.

In particular, the Biblical voice of Arnold McCuller — a Cleveland-born vocalist who has toured extensively with James Taylor — made the star fade by comparison.

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The best setting for Collins’ reduced range came when he joined Nicholas on piano for You Know What I Mean, a gentle piano ballad from 1981 solo debut Face Value that on Monday night showcased the vulnerability in his weathered voice.

Other highlights included Genesis hits Throwing It All Away, Invisible Touch and especially Follow You Follow Me, which was accompanied by archival footage of the British supergroup.

Images of Collins larking about in a series of tracksuits and ill-fitting suits, often sporting impressive facial hair, was a stark reminder that he was never as cool as contemporaries such as Bowie or Jagger.

Phil Collins plays RAC Arena for Not Dead Yet Tour on January 28 | Duncan BarnesPhil Collins plays RAC Arena for Not Dead Yet Tour on January 28 | Duncan Barnes

Signature song In the Air Tonight brewed like a storm, with the drum machine, vocoded vocals and rumbling riffs building until the drum break released the tension.

Following this with naff Supremes cover You Can’t Hurry Love created an odd dichotomy. Tepid bathwater has more soul.

American Psycho villain Patrick Bateman’s favourite song Sussudio was the obvious closer, with streamers and confetti raining on delighted fans, who were finally up and dancing.

Collins left some big hits in the bag, including his highest charting Aussie singles One More Night and, thankfully, A Groovy Kind of Love.

The final track on No Jacket Required, Take Me Home was an apt sentiment for an otherwise dull finale.

Lucky Phil is not dead yet, but someone might want to check for a pulse.

Set List

Against All Odds

Another Day in Paradise

I Missed Again

Hang in Long Enough

Throwing It All Away

Follow You Follow Me

Can’t Turn Back the Years

Inside Out

Who Said I Would

Separate Lives

Something Happened on the Way to Heaven

You Know What I Mean

In the Air Tonight

You Can’t Hurry Love

Dance Into the Light

Invisible Touch

Easy Lover

Sussudio

ENCORE

Take Me Home

© Perth Now, by Simon Collins

Video

Phil Collins 'Not Dead Yet' Tour - Perth, Australia Greeny the One

1 comment

  • Jacqueline Riggs
    Jacqueline Riggs Sunday, 03 February 2019 08:36 Comment Link Report

    I would like to give feed back on our experience at the Phil Collins concert.
    The Adelaide Oval venue was great.
    The concert itself was a great disappointment. As long term fans, we were looking forward to a great night of singing and dancing to the old favourites with a live Phil Collins. Imagine our shock when a man hobbled onto the stage with a walking stick, sat in a chair and announced that he had problems with his back and his foot was "fucked" so he would be doing the concert from sitting in his chair. Added to this he was wearing a tracksuit and looked like he had just been wheeled from a geriatric ward. No effort in presentation and he simply sat and sang with little enthusiasm and the occasional arm wave to his band. What a slap in the face for all his loyal fans.

    Despite this, we intended to make the most of our evening and wanted to at least stand and have a dance to the favourites. The security guards were ridiculous. We moved to the side of the seating on the oval so that we weren't in anyone's way. We were told we were not allowed to be there and had to dance in front of our chairs only, even though we impeded people's view behind us. This then earned us comments from people sitting behind us about sitting down. I told them what the security guard had told me. During the concert we got up several times to either get a drink or go to the toilet, having a jig whilst walking back to our seating.
    we even stayed at the very back of the seating on the oval where there was a very large open space so that we could dance on the spot without interrupting anyone else's view. There were other people standing there also doing the same. When we got back to our seats the security guards then told me I was not allowed to walk around. Seriously!!! His attitude was extremely aggressive and every time we stood up to dance in front of our seats, he instantly went 'on guard' eye balling us. Again, seriously , we were at a concert !!!

    We have been to many live concerts and most times, there is an area set aside for standing or dancing, why was that not provided here.
    we may be older but we're 'not dead yet'. There were so many people standing in the front rows dancing as best possible and those people behind had to watch the screens as they couldn't see the stage.

    We are regular concert goers and living remote we have to fly to these venues). However, the concert has left a bitter taste. Many people on the way out from the concert were of the same opinion.

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