A funny thing is happening at tonight’s Phil Collins concert in Brisbane: Somehow, against all odds, I’m enjoying it.
Here I am, near the end of the gig, and the daggiest daggy song of them all – Sussudio – has me on my feet dancing along with the best of them.
What a strange state of affairs.
It’s night one of his Not Dead Yet Australian tour – his first visit to our shores since 1995.
A lot has changed in those 24 years and we can’t ignore the elephant in the room. Physically, Phil Collins isn’t the man he used to be. But that doesn't stop him putting on a hell of a show.
"I’ll be sitting down for a lot of this evening," Collins tells the packed Suncorp Stadium crowd, after gingerly making his way on stage with the aid of a walking stick.
"I had a back operation a few years ago and my foot’s f---ed, but that’s not going to stop us having fun."
And it doesn’t.
Collins takes his position on a stool at the centre of the stage, where he remains confined for almost the entire gig.
Almost (more on that later).
Ubiquitous in the '80s, Collins is responsible for more earworms than one would like to admit and even the non-fans (in the overwhelming minority as we are) among the 40,000-odd at Suncorp Stadium were able to sing along almost word-for-word.
Clearly debilitated beyond his 67 years, Collins gives as stoic a performance as you could ever hope to see, with some Genesis classics thrown in for good measure.
"I'm only going to do a couple (of Genesis songs)," he says, " so the chances of me playing the one you want to hear is quite slim."
Chances are, Follow You Follow Me is one of those Genesis fans would want to hear.
Close your eyes and you’re listening to the Energizer bunny who performed both Live Aid concerts in the 1985, starting the day at London’s Wembley Stadium before crossing the Atlantic in a Concorde to perform in Washington, DC.
For most of the night, Collins’s voice is impeccable, save for the occasional, and forgivable, falters.
It’s easy to forget we’re watching one of the greatest drummers of all time, when drumming is simply a physical impossibility these days.
His hands move with the beat; an almost subconscious performance on a kit that exists in his memory only.
But the skins are more than adequately serviced.
Enter Nick Collins, Phil’s son, on the drums, handling some of the most iconic drum tracks of all time with aplomb.
And, like his dad, the teenager ventures out from behind the kit.
"Before we went on this tour, Nick had a listen through all my old stuff and he found a song he liked – just one," Collins Snr tells us.
"He taught himself how to play it on piano and I taught myself how to remember the words.
"It’s not very long so if you don’t like it, it’ll be over quick."
Phil’s clearly proud as punch of his 17-year-old lad, as they share the piano for You Know What I Mean.
Then, about three-quarters of the way through, comes Phil Collins’s tour-de-force – In the Air Tonight.
It’s menacing. It’s almost other-worldly. And, as Phil Collins gets up off his seat to stand at the mic, it’s also bloody emotional.
It’s a small gesture, but a powerful one.
Phil Collins was on his feet for In the Air Tonight | Cameron Atfield
Despite his constraints, Phil Collins gives it his all and, tonight, the crowd gives it back.
He and his impressive band bring it home with Can’t Hurry Love, Dance Into the Light, Invisible Touch, Easy Lover and the aforementioned Sussudio, a closing stanza that has most people on their feet.
After that high-energy period, Take Me Home is a somewhat downbeat encore. Perhaps it is a plea to his driver waiting out the back.
As he slowly makes his way off the stage, one wonders how many more tours the affable Englishman has left in him. Given the gap between antipodean visits, one suspects we won’t see him again.
Sure, there’s not a lot of street cred when it comes to Phil Collins. And there’s no doubt that he is responsible for the daddiest of dad rock.
But, really, don’t we all need that guilty pleasure sometimes?
© Brisbane Times, by Cameron Atfield
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Libor Vasa Thursday, 24 January 2019 09:12 Comment Link Report
Its funny that this guy throws all kinds of borderline insults at Collins, such as being middle of the road dad rock etc., yet manages to choose Follow you follow me as the one song he wants to hear from the Genesis repertoire. Come on man, be consistent, show us you are not middle of the road and at least say you wanted to hear Supper's Ready of Who dunnit, and Phil has failed you on this, which you this time mercifully forgive because he is old and frail and cannot stand on his own...