Concert Review: Collins flashes old magic in Tel Aviv

Audience members swayed, sang along, and danced to such hits as "Sussudio," "A Groovy Kind of Love," "Against All Odds," and his Tarzan soundtrack song, "You'll Be in My Heart."

phil collins head 88 (photo credit: )
phil collins head 88
(photo credit: )
With rain forecast for the evening, some 16,000 people crossed their fingers that the skies would stay dry and packed the open-air Bloomfield Stadium in Tel Aviv on Monday night to see Phil Collins live in concert. The most significant rock music performer to play here in the last four years, the British light rock balladeer gave his all in a passionate two-hour performance, and the audience loved him. The concert opened with a fluid drum solo by Collins, legendary drummer for the band Genesis, who was then joined by his drummer Chester Thompson and percussionist Luis Conte. It was a trip down memory lane as songs from the Eighties and Nineties made up most of the bill. Audience members swayed, sang along, and danced to such hits as "Sussudio," "A Groovy Kind of Love," "Against All Odds," "Don't Lose My Number," and his Tarzan soundtrack song, "You'll Be in My Heart." His rendition of "In the Air Tonight" was the highlight of the evening and a rock-and-roll moment of the type Israeli music fans rarely see. The weak link of the evening was the brutal rendition of "True Colors" - sung a cappella style. At 54, Collins was rather playful throughout the show, especially in his duet with band mate Gerald Albright's saxophone. Sixteen others (back-up vocalists, musicians) shared the stage with Collins. In terms of production, it suddenly made sense why Collins arrived here with two airplanes (one with people, the other with his gear). Two huge video screens on each side of the stage played close-up images of the live show for those seated far away. There was also a giant video wall as a backdrop that included colorful and funky visual effects. As has become customary among foreign stars, Collins bantered with the audience in Hebrew, thanking fans for coming out to see him, and saying he was happy to be in town. While his pronunciation was fine, audience members were baffled by the huge "viva let" sign at the end of the show (someone had screened "Tel Aviv" backwards). An adult contemporary staple, it was not surprising to see that the audience was comprised mostly of veteran fans. Despite suffering from a cold a week prior to the concert, Collins was in good vocal shape and his live version sounded as good as his studio recordings. The main set closed with shiny papers and streamers flying out among the crowd during "Sussudio." During the song, Leland Sklar also gave local bass players a quick lesson in how to rock properly. Collins also came down from the stage to get fans on the floor to sing along with him. The encore concluded with the suitable "Take Me Home." Collins's concert here in Tel Aviv was part of the First Final Farewell Tour (a jab at other musicians who say they're giving up touring but then continue to do so). "It's time to go home," Collins sang to each member of his crew and then to the audience. And as he wished Tel Aviv good-bye, raindrops began to fall. While it would have been grander to see Collins in his heyday two decades ago, it was better late than never for local fans to see one of the rock world's best-selling singers on home turf.