Phil Collins - concert review (Arrowhead Pond in Anaheim) - August 26, 2004
Phil Collins is on what's being billed as his "First Final Farewell Tour". Having recently completed the European leg of the tour, the North American portion of the tour begins in Anaheim and ends on September 30 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The title of the tour is a joking nod to some of the seemingly endless farewell tours of other musical acts, but he does intend this to be his last major tour. He will still be doing the occasional special show here and there, and he's got plenty of work to keep him busy, including next year's stage musical version of "Tarzan", but he's decided to hang up the touring hat for family reasons.
Phil hasn't toured in quite some time, and the last time I saw him was during his big band tour, so it's been even longer since he's had a regular tour.
We had seats in the concourse section, the section just above the floor seats. We were towards the back, on the left as you're looking at the stage, so we had to be turned in our seats to see the stage well. I could only really make out which musician was where because I was familiar with them. Otherwise, you couldn't really make out faces too well.
The stage was set on one end of the arena, with two video screens on either side, on which were projected the live video that the cameraman was filming of the concert. There was also a huge screen behind the entire stage, on which were projected lights and shapes and video during the course of the concert. There was a lit staircase on either side of the stage, and there was an elevated walkway behind and above the stage. I thought the stage itself seemed rather small and lacking in space, but the elevated walkway proved to add very much to the show, occupied at various times by Phil, his backup singers or the 4 members of the Vine Street Horns (who used to be called the Phenix Horns). It gave an extra dimension that really added to the staging. In the back part of the stage, there was a drum set for Chester Thompson towards the left and a drum set for Phil on the right, with Luis Conte's percussion instruments in the middle. Brad Cole's keyboards were to the far left of the stage. Ronnie Caryl was on the right front with Daryl Stuermer in front and just to the right of Chester and Leland Sklar to the left of Chester. The six backup singers stayed mostly to the left side of the stage while the Vine Street Horns stayed to the right, though they all moved around quite a bit.
The 8pm show actually started at 8:30pm, with Phil taking the stage solo to a mostly-full arena.
Here's the setlist:
Something Happened On The Way To Heaven
Against All Odds
Don't Lose My Number
You'll Be In My Heart
One More Night
Can't Stop Loving You
Hang In Long Enough
Come With Me
Groovy Kind Of Love
I Missed Again
Another Day In Paradise
No Way Out
In The Air Tonight
Dance Into The Light
Can't Hurry Love
Wear My Hat
It's Not Too Late
Take Me Home
The main part of the concert finished around 10:30pm, and then with the break and about 10 minute encore, the concert was over at about 10:50pm.
The concertgoers seemed very into the concert, standing for much of it, especially during the especially upbeat string of songs starting in the middle of the set.
Some things of note:
For the very beginning of the show, after Phil takes the stage and says a few words about the show being a kind of journey through memorable songs, he goes to his drum set and starts to play. After a while, Chester plays for a while by himself, and then they play the drums together. After a bit of that, Luis takes the stage and joins in as well. I always love seeing how much Phil really enjoys playing the drums, even though he doesn't get to do it much during the course of the concert, and of course, it's always a joy to listen to Chester.
"Against All Odds" - During the later part of the song, Phil effectively ends up singing a duet with Gerald Albright's sax. Gerald got to play quite a bit during the course of the evening, and he is amazing to listen to.
During "You'll Be In My Heart", there's one part where it seems like Phil has forgotten the words, because he missed a line. You could then tell that in the rest of the song, his vocals weren't coming through very well because the microphone was faulty, so he had either been distracted by the tech problem or the mic just cut out and you couldn't hear him. As soon as the song ended, someone came out to swap a new mic with him and it was fine for the rest of the concert.
The version of "True Colors" was completely awesome. Phil brought all the backup singers front and center with him, and they pretty much sang the song a capella. While they sang, Luis was hitting a wooden block with a stick to keep the time, but that was it. Between verses, there was a bit of music for the interludes, but as soon as they started singing again, the musicians would stop. It was really great to listen to. I was kind of surprised when I noticed during the first song that he had six backup singers. In the past, he usually had only had 2, or 3 at the most. He definitely made great use of his "choir", especially on songs like "One More Night" and best of all, "No Way Out".
Right before "Groovy Kind of Love", someone brought out a chair for him to sit on while he sang the song, and that seemed odd to me. I don't recall ever seeing him sitting on a chair for a song. I always liked when he would sit on the edge of the stage for particularly touching songs, so I'm not sure why he didn't just do that this time. Maybe that would have been too difficult for the roving cameraman to film.
"Misunderstanding" was definitely a surprise to hear but fun as well. The set list for the night was identical to his last European shows with the exception of this added Genesis song.
"Separate Lives" - I am so incredibly happy that Arnold McCuller is back. He and Amy Keys have been integral parts of Phil's concerts for quite some time, but Arnold wasn't on the last tour however many years ago. I love when Phil and Amy sing this song together, but I *really* love when Phil, Amy and Arnold all sing the song together, giving a completely different dimension to the song. The now-triangle is physically represented in the staging, aided by the elevated walkway. Phil starts off the song standing in the middle of the walkway with a spotlight on him. During the first chorus, a spotlight shines on Amy, who joins in while standing at the bottom of the right stairs. After their lights go off, the spotlight then shines on Arnold for the next verse, as he's standing at the bottom of the left stairs, completing the triangle. He and Amy share part of the end of the second verse, and then Amy takes the bridge herself, and as usual, she does a spectacular job. In the later parts of the song, all three of them sing together, and it's really a great arrangement of the song.
"In The Air Tonight" - It's pretty easy to tell when they're about to go into this song because it's the only time the musicians will play without Phil for a bit of time, allowing enough time for Phil to be fitted with a headphone mic. As Brad Cole continued to play for a few minutes, it was obvious to me what the next song would be. I also like the presentation of this song as Phil's on the headphone mic and pretty much stalking around the stage. There's always a bit of tension as he's singing and walking around and isn't that close to his drum set but manages to get there just in time to pick up his drumsticks and pound out the signature drum riff in the song. In this case, he started off on the back walkway, walked down the left stairs, walked across the stage, and then up the right stairs and back onto the walkway. He really wasn't close to his drum set that he'd played earlier so it really confused me - until I noticed that in the center of the walkway was rising another drum set which Phil reached just in time to wail on the drums. Incredible.
"Wear My Hat" has been one of my favorite songs of his since I first heard it. As I recall, it's based on real incidents, and it's about fans who approach him and feel like they know him because of his music and women who proposition him. The last time I saw him, they had so much fun performing this in concert, and that certainly seemed the case again this time.
"Easy Lover" - I love this song anyway, but with Arnold there to take the Philip Bailey part, it was that much better. The only thing better than that would be to actually have Philip Bailey there...
"Sussudio" - Because the song got so much radio play during its heydey, it's a song that I don't normally listen to, but I do love it in concert. It's one of the few times I'm actually paying attention to the audience as I look around and see that the entire arena is totally into and focusing on the man in the center of the stage. It's amazing to see the hold he has over the audience especially at that time.
"Take Me Home" - Phil Collins concert veterans will know that this is the last song he plays for every concert. The show's not over until you hear this. This version had a slightly different feel to it as he started the song while playing the bongos as well. As the song gets to the end, he introduces each member of his group as they leave the stage, until he's the last one on stage.
When they came back out for the encore and before they started the first encore song, Phil took a minute to say thank you to the audience for the years of support and coming to the concerts and the like. At the very end of the show, the screen behind the stage showed a red curtain that had been tied back on the sides. As Phil climbed to the elevated walkway and said his final goodbye, you could tell that he was genuinely sad, and as he went down the stairs on the back side, the red curtain closed. I was feeling the sadness myself, tempered only by the fact that I don't actually have to say goodbye to Phil for five more days.
Here is the merchandise that's available at the show.
dark gray, long-sleeve fleece; left breast area has embroidered "Phil Collins" signature in white with crossed drumsticks in yellow between the two names; on the back at the top is embroidered First (in white) Final Farewell Tour (in yellow); $65, available in S, M, L, XL.
blue denim jacket; left breast area has embroidered "Phil Collins" signature in white with crossed drumsticks in yellow between the two names; $80, available in L, XL.
light gray sweatshirt; across the front, centered "Phil Collins" signature in white, with "COLLINS" in dark blue centered underneath and "First Final Farewell Tour 2004" (in white) centered under that; $65, available in M, L, XL.
red t-shirt; picture is of Phil in a hat talking out of a megaphone while he's got a guitar on (I think the picture is a bit odd myself...) with "Phil Collins" signature in white with crossed drumsticks in black between the two names; on the back, "Phil Collins" signature in white with crossed drumsticks in black between the two names and First Final Farewell Tour as well as list of dates and venues; $35, available in S, M, L, XL.
navy blue t-shirt with "Phil Collins" signature in white and a small collage of photos and the words "First Final Farewell Tour"; on the back is a list of cities; $35, available in S, M, L, XL.
black t-shirt with a head shot of Phil and "Phil Collins" signature in white and "First Final Farewell Tour" in yellow; the back has "Phil Collins" signature in white and "First Final Farewell Tour" in yellow with a list of dates and venues; $35, available in S, M, L, XL.
white t-shirt with a picture of Phil singing with his left hand raised with his index finger pointed in the air and "Phil Collins" signature; the back has a list of cities; $35, available in S, M, L, XL.
light gray t-shirt with picture of Phil in a hat talking out of a megaphone while he's got a guitar on with "Phil Collins" signature in white with crossed drumsticks in black between the two names; the back has a list of venues; $35, available in S, M, L, XL.
navy blue polo shirt (3 buttons) with embroidered "Phil Collins" signature in white with crossed drumsticks in yellow between the two names; on the back at the top is embroidered First (in white) Final Farewell Tour (in yellow); $45, available in S, M, L, XL.
pink t-shirt with "Phil Collins" signature in blue and First Final Farewell Tour with a flowery design around the words; $35, available in S, M, L.
black tank top with silhouette of Phil as he's front lit holding a mic; "Phil Collins" signature is in white with blue neon highlights and the words "Take Me Home"; $35, available in S, M, L. (This tank top seemed like its sizes ran smaller than the t-shirts.)
red youth t-shirt with "Phil Collins" signature and Phil's self-portrait drawing of himself playing the drums and First Final Farewell Tour; $25, M only.
navy blue onesie with "Phil Collins" signature in white and Phil's self-portrait drawing of himself playing the drums and First (in white) Final Farewell Tour (in yellow); $25, for 6 - 12 months.
beige tote bag with "Phil Collins" signature in white and Phil's self-portrait drawing of himself playing the drums and First Final Farewell Tour (in red); $20.
black baseball cap with "Phil Collins" signature in white; $25.
poster with silhouette of Phil as he's front lit holding a mic; "Phil Collins" signature is in white with blue neon highlights; $15.
poster with yellow background and picture of Phil singing with his left hand raised with his index finger pointed in the air; "Phil Collins" signature and "First Final Farewell Tour 2004"; $15.
keychains in the same designs as the posters; $10 each.
silver travel mug with "Phil Collins" signature and First Final Farewell Tour; $15.
program with light gray sleeve (like an album cover) with "Phil Collins" signature and Phil's self-portrait drawing of himself playing the drums and First Final Farewell Tour; inside, there's a booklet with a history of Phil's career and tons of pictures from various stages in that career, a big postcard supposedly from Phil to his mother (addressed to the Tower of London and the stamp on the postcard has a picture of Phil) and an offer for a concert photo brochure and a free concert photo.
drumsticks - $20.
assorted CDs from Chester Thompson and Daryl Stuermer; $20 or $25 each.
Click here for the August 28, 2004 review of the concert at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
Click here for the August 31, 2004 review of the concert at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
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