Phil Collins, Gig Review. Echo Arena, Liverpool.

Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating * * * * *

Perhaps it was the sense of occasion, the bugle and drum pattern of history that could be felt amongst the Echo Arena crowd that signified a return, the memories of all who attended the first Phil Collins gig in many years, the first time that even without the other members of Genesis by his side that the drummer, the front man of many a music hit of his generation had stepped out in front of a crowd and sang a note of implication and beautiful awareness; perhaps it was the occasion, more likely it was the city and its people, for this was a welcome never to be forgotten, never to be anything but fantastic.

Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now), it was as if it was written for the cause, for the possible return of the man, arguably a legend, certainly amongst the full Echo Arena’s crowd and huge fan base, but against the odds Phil Collins returned and whilst this particular gig was not one that was originally planned, whilst London’s Albert Hall was going to be the place where he would start again, Liverpool was the right and proper place to gauge the musical temperature, to feel the warmth and hopeful respect that the musician and songwriter deserved.

It is not just that Liverpool takes such people to its heart, it is in the fact that, Tony Banks aside, all the classic line up members of Genesis have played the city to great acclaim in recent years, Peter Gabriel’s gig at the Echo a huge highlight in the building’s history and Mike Rutherford and Steve Hackett have played some of the most spell binding concerts to be witnessed just up the road at the Philharmonic Hall; this was not fate, this was the demand of the audience and they took it all in their absolute stride.

It has to be noted that Mr. Collins performed the two halves from the confines of a comfortable chair, having recently had back surgery and recovering from the ordeal, this though was not an issue, it didn’t affect the performance of the man’s voice and indeed through the myriad of flashes from cameras, through the streams of a thousand you-tube hits being registered as people on line found themselves concentrating on the city by the Mersey, it made no difference if this was the Phil Collins who could dance round a tambourine or if he stayed sitting down, what was important was the reception and to each song the vocal truth was deafening, he had certainly been missed and missed hard.

With songs such as Another Day In Paradise, Follow You Follow Me, Something Happened On The Way To Heaven, In The Air Tonight, You Know What I Mean, played with more than a sense of unbelievable beauty by his son Nick on piano, Invisible Touch and Sussudio, this was a night when a legend revisited his old life and found that no matter what, the fans had not left, that they still revered him and for a man who said he would not tour again all those years ago, it was a moment that all were pleased he had broken the vow and come to Liverpool again.

Ian D. Hall