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Phil Collins takes sold-out crowd at Talking Stick Resort Arena on an emotional journey

Phil Collins performs his Not Dead Yet Tour at Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix Phil Collins performs his Not Dead Yet Tour at Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix Michael Chow

It's been a decade since Phil Collins first revealed that he'd been forced to give up drumming due to nerve damage caused by dislocated vertebrae.

 And having used a cane to make his way to center stage at Talking Stick Resort Arena, Collins took a seat, remaining seated for all but one of 19 songs, a suitably dramatic "In the Air Tonight."

If health concerns have forced the legendary drummer to revamp his whole approach to live performance, they haven't stopped his shows from selling out, including Tuesday night's performance, his first Valley concert since 2004.

He thanked the crowd for coming out — "because we realize that you had a choice, you know? And you chose us" — before explaining, "I'm gonna be sitting down like this for a lot of this evening. You know, back surgery, foot stuff, bits falling off. But that won't stop us from having some fun, right?"

What followed was an often joyous celebration of his legacy that touched on many of his most enduring solo hits, a smattering of lesser-known material and a three-song sampling of his time in Genesis (including a wonderful version of "Follow You Follow Me," performed as vintage scenes of Collins and his former bandmates filled the screen behind him).

Collins proved a surprisingly animated presence, moving to the beat and frequently throwing as much of his body as he could into giving a seated performance.

Phil Collins performs with his son, Nicholas, on drums during his Not Dead Yet Tour at Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix on Oct. 15, 2019 | Michael Chow/The RepublicPhil Collins performs with his son, Nicholas, on drums during his Not Dead Yet Tour at Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix on Oct. 15, 2019 | Michael Chow/The RepublicPhil Collins performs with his son, Nicholas, on drums during his Not Dead Yet Tour at Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix on Oct. 15, 2019 | Michael Chow/The Republic

His playful sense of humor also added to the entertainment value of the endearingly titled Still Not Dead Yet Tour.

The night began with 'Against All Odds'

He introduced the first Genesis song with "Three or 400 years ago, I was in a band called Genesis. And we're all still great friends, you know. So you never know."

Then as the audience cheered, he mimed casting a fishing line and reeling it in before continuing, "Anyway, I thought it would be quite nice if we played a couple of Genesis songs. Of course, you understand that we did make a lot of records and we wrote a lot of songs, so the chances of me choosing a couple Genesis songs that you want to hear are pretty slim, I say. But we're gonna play these because ... we rehearsed them."

The concert began with "Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)," an emotional ballad he sang while his fellow musicians were concealed behind a curtain. At 68, his vocals tapped into the soulful essence of the 1984 recording without reaching for the higher notes that would've come more easily when he was in his 30s.

Then, the curtain rose to reveal his backing band, with his 18-year-old son Nicholas Collins on drums, longtime guitarist Daryl Stuermer (who also toured with Genesis), second guitarist Ronnie Caryl, bassist Leland Sklar, keyboardist Brad Cole, percussionist Richie Garcia, the four-piece Vine Street Horns (trumpeters Harry Kim and Dan Fornero, saxophonist George Shelby and trombonist Luis Bonilla) and four backing vocalists.

Much later, Collins' other giant soundtrack ballad of the '80s, "Separate Lives," found him sharing the spotlight with one of those backup singers, Bridgette Bryant, whose awe-inspiring, gospel-flavored vocals took the ballad to a far more soulful place than Marilyn Martin did on the original recording.

Upbeat songs, confetti and emotion

For the most part, though, the setlist seemed to favor the more upbeat side of Collins' catalog, making the most of those horns, from the funky "Hang in Long Enough" and "Don't Lose My Number" to a joyous "Dance Into the Light" and "Easy Lover," which featured him playfully sharing the spotlight with backup singers Amy Keys and Arnold McCuller.

Phil Collins performs with his son, Nicholas, on drums during his Not Dead Yet Tour at Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix on Oct. 15, 2019 | Michael Chow/The RepublicPhil Collins performs with his son, Nicholas, on drums during his Not Dead Yet Tour at Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix on Oct. 15, 2019 | Michael Chow/The Republic

Streamers and confetti rained down from above as Collins brought the concert to a rousing finish with "Sussudio" before returning for a one-song encore, "Take Me Home."

Stuermer took several turns in the spotlight, from his fiery solo on "Don't Lose My Number" to "Something Happened on the Way to Heaven" and an electrifying lead on "Easy Lover."

Collins' son did a wonderful job of rising to the rather daunting challenge of filling his famous father's seat behind the drums, from that first unmistakable fill when the drums kick in on "Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)" to the signature fill on "In the Air Tonight." He proved a driving force throughout the set and was given a chance to stretch out on a lengthy percussion solo with Garcia, which ended in one of the concert's emotional high points when his father joined in, tapping his fingers on a small cajon, a box-shaped percussion instrument.

It wasn't long after that percussion showcase that Nicholas accompanied his father on piano for another special moment, "You Know What I Mean," the proud father explaining that when Nicholas first started touring with his band, "I thought it would be good if he listened to my old records." Then, with perfect comic timing, he added, "So I made him go out and buy them, of course."

At times like that, it was clear that with Collins' charisma, he could entertain the back rows of a giant sports arena if it got to where he had to wheel a bed onstage. And when he did rise to his feet for a triumphant "In the Air Tonight" 13 songs deep in a crowd-pleasing set, it's hard to picture anyone not getting caught up in the palpable emotion of the moment.

Phil Collins setlist

  1. Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)
  2. Another Day in Paradise
  3. Hang in Long Enough
  4. Don't Lose My Number
  5. Throwing It All Away
  6. Follow You Follow Me
  7. I Missed Again
  8. Who Said I Would
  9. Separate Lives
  10. Drum Trio
  11. Something Happened on the Way to Heaven
  12. You Know What I Mean
  13. In the Air Tonight
  14. You Can't Hurry Love
  15. Dance Into the Light
  16. Invisible Touch
  17. Easy Lover
  18. Sussudio
  19. Encore: Take Me Home

© Azcentral, by Ed Masley

Last modified on Thursday, 17 October 2019 08:11

Video

Phil Collins Invisible Touch Talking Stick AZ 10/15/19 Billy AZConcertGuy

1 comment

  • Julie H
    Julie H Saturday, 19 October 2019 19:13 Comment Link Report

    I saw Phil in Charlotte. He was awesome!!! Wish I could see him again ! I’m only complaint is he needed to sing 6 more songs

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