From Genesis to exodus

‘Nostalgia nuts’ got into their cars again and headed back to the capital when Phil Collins decided to add Lisbon to his ‘Farewell Tour’ dates recently. ‘Macca’ last month and Phil this – great stuff!

The concert was staged in the José Alvalade stadium, home of Sporting and venue for the first Euro 2004 semi-finals. The ground staff had done well to transform the football stadium into a rock venue in such a short space of time and it was an impressive sight when we walked through the doors and into the arena.

The support band was Mike and the Mechanics, who took to the stage at around 9pm. They entertained us for about 45 minutes, but you could sense that the crowd was waiting for the main event. The stage crew changed the set and then it became clear why ‘Macca’ had chosen not to have a support band when he played. Any excitement that had been built up was left to wane as we waited almost an hour for Phil Collins to take to the stage. Fortunately, the Portuguese crowd was full of anticipation of the following night’s Euro 2004 final and they amused themselves, and us, with their own singing and Mexican waves.

Finally, out walked Phil. He walked onto the stage without introduction, waving his drumsticks and, in case anyone had forgotten that he had started life as a drummer in a rock band, he treated us to an exhilarating ‘drum duel’ with the drummer of his band. It seemed to last for hours, but was probably only five minutes and the crowd went wild when they finished. Then, just as ‘Macca’ had a few weeks before, Phil Collins showed us why he has stayed at the top of the music world for so long. He, and the 15 or so members of his band, enjoyed themselves and entertained us for the next two hours. He did the obligatory, reading Portuguese from a script thing, which once again made the Portuguese happy and provided us all with some fun with his bad pronunciation (not alone there then Phil!), and sang a lot of songs. The crowd sang along and the kids (yes, there were kids there too) danced and sang along with their parents. The light sticks that were thrown into the crowd were waved during the slower songs and provided a surreal backdrop to the concert. They were in various colours and looked like thousands of fireflies dancing in time to the music.

If you can think of a Phil Collins song, he probably sang it until, finally, the evening came to a close. We had sung ourselves hoarse and jigged about in our seat spaces (always the worst part about stadium concerts) and we all applauded like crazy until the band came back for the encore. Phil told us that this was indeed his farewell tour and gave an emotional thank you to the people of Portugal for the support and ‘love’ that they had shown him during his long career. He then sang two more songs before finishing with Take me home, during which he introduced his excellent band, and walked from the stage.

Even if you weren’t particularly a Phil Collins’ fan, the evening was great fun. If you are a fan, the evening was fantastic. The show was very professional, the songs were superb and the band on stage enjoyed themselves, which made it all even more fun for us. So that’s two fabulous performers from the earlier days of Rock ‘n’ Roll that I’ve been privileged to see in the last few weeks. Was that a poster for a David Bowie concert that I saw there? Michael Reeve