Phil Collins is giving it one more night
If the final date of the second leg of Phil Collins’ Still Not Dead Yet, Live! Tour proves anything, it’s that Collins firmly believes in the adage “the show must go on.” The 68-year-old pop legend has been walking to a swivel chair onstage with the aid of a cane and standing ovations, and performing much of his shows while seated. As Collins had guessed, his fans wanted him in any shape or form as long as he was there in person.
The bonus was that his 18-year-old son Nicholas Collins plays drums, re-creating iconic parts from “In the Air Tonight” and “Take Me Home.” As dad informs his audiences with a little salty language, he’s had his back operated on and one of his feet is not fully functional. His hands suffer numbness that makes drumming impossible, and his vocal range calls for a few changes to lower keys and rerouting of melodies that strain his upper range.
Still, this is Phil Collins at face value in 2019. Against all odds, he’s come out of retirement, put together a band that includes legendary bassist Lee Sklar and Genesis touring guitarist Daryl Stuermer, and brings new meaning to “take a look at me now” when he belts out the lyrics to the opening song on the tour’s set list. With his son re-creating the gated reverb effect Collins first pounded out on Peter Gabriel’s “Intruder” and kinetic backup singers and horn players, he’s got everything he needs to deliver a first-class show.
Collins was raised to entertain, having appeared in the stage musical Oliver! as a youngster. A role as an extra in The Beatles’ A Hard Days Night may have made a bigger impact on the amateur drummer, as he detoured from a destiny selling insurance to becoming the skinsman for Genesis. When flamboyant Gabriel left that band in 1975, Collins stepped forward and presented a regular guy persona that audiences embraced.
His new role allowed the music to become more accessible as well. The band had its first hit single in 1978 with “Follow You Follow Me,” which Collins has been performing live on tour along with Genesis songs “Throwing It All Away” and “Invisible Touch.” More hits followed, then the breakup of his first marriage led to a period of reflection and solo composing. Experimentation with a drum machine led to a somber song that Collins explodes with gated-reverb tom pounding.
Although “In the Air Tonight” received heavy rotation on a nascent MTV, the song’s inclusion in the soundtrack of cop-series phenomenon Miami Vice sealed Collins’ fate as a superstar. His people-pleasing personality contributed to overexposure and eventually critical contempt. Those who become pop-culture punchlines often experience redemption, though. Millennials whose parents rocked out to “In the Air Tonight” while they sat in child-restraint seats appreciate his music without irony. Collins’ place in music history has been reappraised and arenas are filled to the brim with people who want one more night with the singer. He’s happy to oblige.
T-Mobile Arena, 8 p.m. Oct. 19, starting at $55 plus tax and fee. 888.929.7849 AXS