Phil Collins made his entrance to the Tampa audience walking with a cane to a chair ready for him on center stage! The sound of the standing ovation for him was deafening!
Bringing his “Still Not Dead Yet Tour” to Tampa, Mr. Collins has had health issues in recent years. He is honest to say that he will be sitting for the majority of the show, but “let’s all have some fun”! Opening with his Academy award-winning song from the movie of the same name, 1984’s “Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)”. Upon hearing that familiar Phil Collins voice, the audience knows that this is going to be a great show. They stayed on their feet the entire show like a tribute to Phil!
Collins started with the band Genesis in 1970 as the drummer with Peter Gabriel as the lead singer, until 1975 when Gabriel left. Phil took over as lead vocalist and brought a new era of Genesis with a different sound into the 80’s as well as starting a solo career. The setlist for this show had songs from both his stint in Genesis and his solo career. The 80’s were good to Phil with him selling over 100 million albums! Who can forget Phil playing “Live Aid” in both London and Philadelphia flying on the Concord? Back to the show, “Another Day in Paradise” was next and was a crowd sing-along. A couple of Genesis tunes, “Throwing It All Away” and “Follow You, Follow Me” being followed by Phil’s solo hit, “I Missed Again”, all done with great lighting and video on the big screens.
Next came band intros, and much of the band has been with Phil for a long time. Guitarist Daryl Stuermer, who has played with Phil and Genesis for over 40 years, is superb. Daryl was even in some of Phil’s videos during the MTV heyday. Leyland Skylar on bass has played with a who’s who in music including James Taylor and Jackson Browne. Brad Cole, on keyboards, has worked with Phil for 30 years. Richie Garcia, on percussion and congas has worked with Sting and Diana Ross. 18 year-old Nicolas Collins is behind the drum kit for his father, who is a tough act to follow but, young Collins held his own and then some throughout the evening. His drum solo was amazing and he can only get better with age and experience. Collins faces his son and watches his solo, it is a special moment in the show. The four backup vocalists and four piece horn section bring more magic to the show!
Another hit record from the movies is from the 1985 “White Knights” soundtrack. The sad, emotional “Separate Lives”, a duet that Phil performs with his backup singer Bridgette Bryant. A fun, drum trio with Phil, Nic and Richie allows for Phil to get into the beat. Everyone had a great time with the audience clapping along. The entire arena was ready as soon as they heard those opening notes to Collins’ most famous song, “In the Air Tonight”! It was all there, the reverb, the drum riffs, Phil’s hauntingly, mesmerizing voice. Remember the car scene in the Miami Vice pilot episode or Mike Tyson waiting for the drum solo in the scene from The Hangover? “Air” is as iconic a song as ever and there is nothing like hearing it LIVE!
The Motown cover, “You Can’t Hurry Love” had people dancing in the aisles. “Easy Lover” which was a hit with in 1984 for Phil and Earth, Wind & Fire’s, Phillip Bailey, keeps the arena out of their seats and keeps them up for “Sussudio”! Ending with “Take Me Home”, Collins sends the audience off knowing it doesn’t matter whether you stand or sit, great music comes from the mind and the heart! Phil Collins has written some of the best music of our time!
Photos by Vicky Sullivan / The Sarasota Post