Live Review: Phil Collins, Wembley Arena, 1990

The Phil Collins tour machine comes to town for a record-breaking stint of god knows how many nights at first the Royal Albert Hall and now Wembley Arena. Christ! I don't know how Mr. Collins keeps it up night after night.

Billed as the Serious Tour it was really all quite predictable as Phil scurried from mikestand, to drumkit, to mikestand, to piano, to drumkit, to mikestand, etc. Like a chimpanzee on heat he hurtled around the stage dressed up to the hilt in jacket and the ever familiar baggy trousers - could you imagine this guy in jeans?

That ever present horn section, now a hallmark of the Collins/Genesis sound, seemed to take centre stage for much of the show as Phil, Daryl, Chester, and Lee hammered out much out much of the material from Phil's multi-million-selling But Seriously album, the highlight being, of course, the moody ballad Another Day in Paradise, a thoughtful song with none of the slushy, sentimental sop you'd associate with the balding balladeer. Elsewhere the band aired songs from Phil's other three solo albums. Again, it was the deep-rroted material that inspired me: In The Air Tonight, I Don't Care Anymore, etc. Then there were the instrumental interludes with commendable skin-beating courtesy of Collins and Chester Thompson. Indeed, I'd be happy to watch Phil play the drums full stop. He's a rock drummer first and foremost!

As expected the hits from Buster got a standing ovation from the capacity audience that was largely made up of middle-aged housewives, bank clerks, etc. It was all very innocent, singalong, dance-along stuff - supermarket, conveyor-belt musak for want of a better word. Collins is a brilliant showman, capable of almost anything when he puts his mind to it. A comedian at the best of times, with his clean-cut 'Mr. Nice Guy' image, still all the more entertaining!

What I'd like to see is Phil get off his backside and play some real shit-kicking rock n' roll. Tonight's show was well worth the money as he and his band played for almost three hours! But seriously Mr. Collins, it's about time you recognised your roots and got at least a little bit heavier.

Mark Crampton

Riff Raff
June, 1990
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