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‘Touring against all odds’ – A Frail Phil Collins Delivers for his Fans

It’s true: he’s “Not Dead Yet,” and that title really is appropriate for Phil Collins’s live comeback this year. Here is an artist aware of his own mortality and, this time, it’s serious.

One has to admire Phil Collins for coming out of retirement. He can barely walk, limping into the stage with a cane, and he certainly doesn’t need the money.

Just this month he fell and injured himself for the second time in a year, giving himself a black eye and cancelling a show. But Collins is clearly made of strong stuff and it seems the maître of 80’s prog rock simply has more to say before his time is out.

Perhaps intentionally, the mood of these new live shows is one of retrospection. Collins glides through nearly every hit from the vaults and his inimitable voice is in good nick given his health.

It’s hard not to compare these shows with the 2003 “Farewell” tour, wherein a glowing Collins dominated the stage. Those shows saw him play the drums, which he no longer attempts live. He’s said he’s unable to drum for any length of time without experiencing severe pain.

Collins’s son, Nicholas, deserves credit for some fantastic drumming on these shows but they are notably lesser for not having the man drum himself.

These shows do lack the punches packed in the glory years of Live Aid hits like “Sussudio.” The latter is apt to sum up Phil Collins’ appeal in his home country.

The Brits never embraced him as they did Elton John or Paul McCartney. Even Paul gets a hard time now and again. The ‘working class made good’ are often victims of inverted snobbery by the masses.

Collins has always been a ‘Marmite’ entertainer. The announcement of his return to music hardly caused heart attacks in newsrooms. He continues to be regarded as a true talent but, beyond core fans, the guy’s never really been hip.

But age has helped his appeal. The public, albeit too late, are warming to Phil Collins. Sitting in the middle of the stage on his chair, Phil is a frail shadow of his youth. But age has brought new life and meaning to songs perhaps written ahead of his own time.

Attendees are treated to a chain of memorable hits and a few unexpected choices which are clearly personal to the man. Fans won’t be disappointed, but newcomers to Collins’s music might first stream an earlier show to appreciate why he’s highly regarded as a live performer.

These shows are reminiscent but not a requiem. Collins is determined to show resilience in the face of illness. His fragility lends a new touch to old songs. There is now wisdom in his words where once his lyrics might have been knocked as shallow.

Whatever the critics or the press might say of him, Phil Collins deserves that chair on stage. Only the audience need stand in ovation. See him on this tour, as this time it might just be a real case of “Hello, I must be going.”

The Phil Collins’s tour moves to Paris, June 18th, where he’ll play five shows. He then plays Dublin Lansdowne Road on June 25th. Further dates and locations are expected as his health improves.