Barclaycard’s BST Hyde Park has always been an interesting concept, a mix of an all-dayer and a band’s private festival which sees the organisers and headliners curate their own line-up for a solid day that revolves around the headline act but with all of the ‘other’ attractions you’d expect from a smaller boutique festival – with it being a series of one-day events, you only caught the bands you really wanted to, rather than stay for an entire weekend when you only wanted to see one headliner.
Today’s day was Phil Collins! When Blondie rocked out onto the Great Oak stage it was clear they had no intention of slowing down the party, opening with ‘One Way Or Another’ Debbie Harry proved that age hasn’t mellowed her at all and that she’s got every ounce of fight in her that she had in the 70s and that Blondie are absolutely still a must-see act if you get the chance – Chris Stein and Clem Burke still act as the same superb accompaniment to Harry’s hard hitting lyrics – which also haven’t mellowed, but has changed – the band played cuts from their new bee-themed album ‘Pollinator’ while Debbie Harry wore a bee-themed headdress and a cape that read ‘STOP FUCKING THE PLANET’ – I wasn’t going to argue and neither was anyone else in Hyde Park, Blondie ripped through hit after hit and left the crowd practically begging for more.
I’d spent most of the afternoon chatting to people in the Diamond View area and I learned one thing: these people would have done anything to see Phil Collins again, even if it meant hopping countries. A large proportion of the people were from mainland Europe or America who had no other choice but to come here if they wanted to see Phil Collins in his biggest ever solo show, no matter what I knew that the next couple of hours were going to be special:
He didn’t seem to be a primadonna type – which he could be forgiven for being at his legendary status – the aging Collins – recovering from leg and back surgery as well as a fairly nasty fall in Germany only earlier this month meant that poor Phil was rough to say the least, but undeterred by ailments that would make a weaker star cancel a tour, Collins continued with the show while sitting down with a cane by his side, saying that he’d carry on performing ‘If you’re just happy for me to sit!’
It was like the world had stopped, everyone in Hyde Park was there for one man, seeing him limp out to cheers like he’d just won the world cup was crazy. Collins belted through hit after hit somehow managing to keep the crowd in the palm of his hand while having one hand on the mic and the other on his cane – I’m not the most familiar with his music but it was very clear that I was witnessing something special, originally intending to leave a touch early to catch my train I elected to stay as I heard the iconic introduction to ‘In The Air Tonight’ and was I glad I did. The only thing I can liken it to would be Ariana Grande’s One Love Manchester show – it was just incredibly clear that history was being made. Despite all the romantics of the occasion, the one thing shining through was always the music – it was an excellent show, but it was a phenomenal display of musicianship and vocal abilities from Collins who still sounded as great as he did on those original albums – and arguably better than he did in early live performances.
With the show winding to a close, Collins played ‘Take Me Home’ as an encore, an incredible performance to end a mind-blowing night – make about 500 times more surreal when Collins stood up halfway through the song and finished it on his feet, to a roar from the crowd that was comparable to a jet engine – who said music can’t heal?
If that wasn’t magical enough for you, that drummer that nailed the ‘In The Air Tonight’ solo? – that’s Nicholas Collins, Phil’s 16 year old son.
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Review and Photos by Charlie Koncher | @ouiabout
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