Christchurch's summer of 1979 to 89 nostalgia trip continued at the former Addington Showgrounds on Monday night. After a Toto appetiser last month and before the upcoming Hagley double dose of UB40 and Bryan Adams came the main course of the sometimes polarising hitmaker Phil Collins.
When he initially emerged onstage with the day's bright sunlight fading, the near capacity audience seemed shocked to see him hobbling in with the use of a cane. It was a sad sight to see the man who once pulled double duty on Live Aid reduced to a painful looking shuffle.
Back surgery had left him with more-than-minor foot trouble he told the crowd, as he took up his near-permanent place upon a centrally located swivel chair. As he lamented "Take a look at me now" during his opening power ballad Against All Odds, it was hard not be reminded of his age (68) and the somewhat aptness of his tour's title Not Dead Yet. A conveniently placed stuffed toy cat also didn't help assuage the belief that he now looks more Bond villain than Grammy-winning musician.
The Christchurch Stadium crowd enjoyed every moment of Phil Collins' two-hour set | George Heard
However, the cheeky Chiswick-born Londoner promised that his impediment wouldn't stop the Garden City throngs "from having fun" and he was true to his word. He might have been missing some of his higher notes of his heyday, but he still delivered emotion and nuance aplenty as he hustled through hits like Another Day in Paradise, I Missed Again and Hang in Long Enough.
Naturally, some older members of the surprisingly wide-ranging audience were hoping to hear some classics from the prog-rock book of Genesis and Collins didn't disappoint. After joking that the chances of him playing the one track fans wanted "were pretty slim" because of the number of records they made, he overdelivered by backing up Throwing It All Away with a rousing rendition of Follow You, Follow Me that included a Genesis' highlights video beaming out on the stadium's three large screens.
After introducing the talented members of his performing entourage, most of whom looked like his contemporaries – bar Collins' 17-year-old son Nicholas – he then set about giving them all chances to shine – from duets like Separate Lives and Easy Lover, to drum and guitar solos. One particular highlight came when Nicholas joined his Dad on piano for "the one song he likes" – 1981's You Know What I Mean.
Phil Collins was accompanied by a band filled with impressive musicians | George Heard
That segued into perennial crowdpleaser In the Air Tonight, before a run of uptempo hits – Can't Hurry Love, Dance Into the Light, Invisible Touch and aforementioned Easy Lover – sent the gran-dad (and grandma) dancing into overdrive and left the Red Badge Security team facing defeat in their desire to keep the aisles clear.
Patrick Bateman's favourite Sussudio, complete with a shower of confetti, brought the main set to a climax, before the avuncular, but fairly banter-free Collins returned with the fitting choice – Take Me Home. The crowd probably wanted One More Night, but that honour now falls to Wednesday evening's crowd at Napier's Mission Estate Winery.
© Stuff, by James Croot
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