JENNINGS: 'Still Not Dead Yet,' Phil Collins comes to town

The Associated PressPhil Collins will be in town Friday for a sold-out show at the KeyBank Center.

It’s been a long time since Phil Collins performed in Buffalo. In 2004 Phil performed at the HSBC arena on his “First Final Farewell Tour,” and returned in 2007 on the “Turn it On Again” Tour with Genesis.

On Friday, Phil returns to Buffalo to the venue formerly known as Marine Midland Arena, HSBC Arena and First Niagara Center, and now known as KeyBank Center. Phil has changed a bit as well, he is physically unable to play drums and spends a good portion of the show seated.

That didn’t stop fans from scooping up tickets quickly. The show sold out shortly after it was announced, and even the nosebleed seats are going for over $100 on reseller sites such as StubHub. It’s a testament to the popularity of Phil Collins, whose voice and drums propelled Genesis’ career to new heights even after many people thought they would not survive the departure of Peter Gabriel.

“I think this tour is a validation of Phil’s career,” his longtime and current touring guitarist Daryl Stuermer noted during a recent phone interview. “In Europe we are playing in stadiums, and in South America we were playing in front of 50,000 people. There were people there that had tears in their eyes singing the songs. The reviews have been good, even though a lot of critics didn’t seem to like him back then.”

Stuermer has been a constant in Collins’ career. Stuermer took over guitar and bass duties in Genesis back in 1978 after the departure of Steve Hackett. While he was never an official member of Genesis, he was on all their tours from 1978 to 1992 and was with them again in 2007 for what it is safe to assume was Genesis’ final tour.

His work with Collins includes co-writing credits on some songs and he has been a constant member of Phil’s touring band and appeared on almost all of Phil’s recordings. Stuermer had been focusing on a solo career and was not sure Phil Collins would ever tour again, but that changed a few years ago.

“Once in a while we would play a show for the Little Dreams Foundation, which is a charity started by Phil and his wife.” Stuermer recalled. “That would be down in Florida. In 2016, we had an opportunity to play the U.S. Open for their opening ceremony. It was televised and it was the first time we had gotten together in a long time and things really gelled.”

Prior to the U.S Open show, which included a fantastic duet with Leslie Odom Jr. on the hit “Easy Lover,” Phil had been out on the road promoting his autobiography, “Not Dead Yet” which also inspired the name of his current tour, the “Still Not Dead Yet” tour.

“You could tell he was getting into (the U.S Open performance) and the next thing you know he was organizing a tour.”

It’s Phil’s first extended time on the road as a solo performer since 2005, which is a testament to the power of Phil’s solo work. There are three Genesis songs in the set, even though Phil usually didn’t play many Genesis songs on past solo tours. In Europe Mike & the Mechanics opened the show so Genesis founding member Mike Rutherford joined Phil onstage for “Follow You Follow Me.”

“We end a lot of shows with “Take Me Home” and that song still gets to me. And songs like “Sussudio” are still a lot of fun to play. This show has a little bit of everything,” Stuermer said.

“He sits for most of the show, but it is so spectacular that people forget he is sitting down, especially after he starts talking and his personality starts to shine.”

And even though Phil will not be sitting behind the drum kit, there will be another Collins keeping the beat, Phil’s son Nicholas.

 

Thom Jennings covers the local music scene for Night and Day.

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