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    Another couple of "First Final Farewells"


    Neuchâtel, October 08, 2005 – Drums, Drums and more Drums

    Having been to eight shows already in 2004 (Milan, Vienna, Frankfurt, Cologne, London, Nîmes, Milwaukee & Chicago) may be crazy. Planning to see another eight shows just a year later may be even crazier. But driving 650 km to Neuchâtel on an October's Saturday without knowing if I would get a chance to at least hear something of the rehearsals from the outside is nearly insane – I admit.

    neuchatelAnyway, that's exactly what I did. Got up early in the morning, took my car and arrived at the Patinoires du Littoral right next to the beautiful Lac de Neuchâtel after six hours on German and Swiss motorways. It was Saturday, 8th October 2005. Just a few days before the First Final Farewell Tour was going to recommence with a gig in Tallinn, Estonia.
    I was waiting right at the lakeside for something to happen when suddenly I saw a long bearded man, who was pulling a suitcase behind him, coming towards me. Believe it or not, it was Leland Sklar himself, Phil's well known bass player. I had the pleasure to talk to him for a while. In the end he said that he would go and ask if me and a fellow Swiss fan who I met in Neuchâtel were allowed to be inside for the rehearsals show. So we waited in the foyer of the hall for Leland to return and tell us the result of his inquiry.
    After a while Lee came out to walk Phil's dog Jack and told us that the tour manager himself, Tim Brockman, had given us the go-ahead to attend the show! There were more relatives, friends and official guests expected than usual that day, anyway (especially Russian officials as well as TV stations from Russia, Romania and Estonia). So two more people inside didn't really matter. Another couple of minutes later the bass virtuoso went out to us again and said we shouldn't have to wait any longer and led us inside. Walking past him we went through the room where the band and crew were having lunch and finally entered the hall through a side door ending up standing right next to the stage. Mr. Sklar showed us some chairs on the floor where we could sit. At that point pretty much no-one apart from us and some crew members were inside the hall. More and more band members were arriving and finally Phil came in to do a brief soundcheck. He sat down behind his drumkit and just played around for a while. An unbelieveable experience to have this exclusive honour to see Phil play virtually just for you! Then Phil disappeared behind the stage to check his drumkit for In The Air Tonight, too. He returned to the stage and did a mic check with his backing singers. For this purpose they did a more or less a capella version of Invisible Touch. What a treat! By that time I had known that two new songs would be in the set. Two surprises, one Genesis song and a song from Both Sides. So now I knew what the Genesis song would be. Still was wondering which Both Sides song they would have chosen.   
    The tour stage hadn't changed much but during the show I saw that the new lighting elements were a great improvement compared to the cranes used a year ago. There were also some new video sequences shown on the backdrop screen.
    You should know that on a rehearsal day at this stage they don't try much anymore but rather play a full concert. So when the show was about to start the guests and friends had finally joined us. All in all maybe 200 people. Sounds much but still a very exclusive audience compared to a regular concert.
    Of course the show started with Phil on the drums soon accompanied by Chester Thompson and Luis Conte. There was no big introduction after Don't Lose My Number and the set went on the way it was a year ago. No surprises until A Groovy Kind Of Love was over. The following song was not I Missed Again but Another Day In Paradise. After that I really didn't expect Misunderstanding because this was a special song done in North America due to the success of the single in 1980. Furthermore it was very unlikely that Phil would play another Genesis song apart from Invisible Touch. But I was very surprised when I saw that Phil and Luis went upstairs to some snaredrums which I hadn't spotted so far. Once both were on their marks a well-known drumline started but soon sounded pretty strange. Finally Phil stopped playing and waved his drumsticks shouting "Stop it, stop it! My fault!" He obviously had slipped into a wrong drumline. So they started the intro over again. This time without a problem. We Wait And We Wonder sounded even better than it did in 1994/95 when it was done for the first and last time on tour.
    The selection of this song made sense especially regarding the lyrics which still are very up-to-date and the countries the tour would be visiting during the upcoming weeks. Chester's drumming added a lot of power and the lighting making the stage look like on fire created a great atmosphere for this song.
    It took a while until Invisible Touch was done as part of the faster half of the set. The song was done with horns which reminded a bit of the big band tours. Another great rendition in my opinion. I was very curious how this song would work in front of a big crowd. But the best was yet to come – just very short but a masterpiece: the transition from Invisible Touch to Easy Lover. I was totally blown away by that. Without shortening any of the two songs Invisible Touch went over into Easy Lover so smoothly. You still hadn't realized that the former song was over when the latter had already started.
    At the end of the show they did a little favour to the Russian guests that afternoon. During Take Me Home the name of the city they're currently playing is displayed on the backdrop. This time it wasn't Neuchâtel but Moscow written in cyrillic letters.
    The 2.5 hours were over too fast as usual. After the concert I had the chance to talk to some of the band members. Unfortunately there was no chance to meet or talk to Phil. He was totally busy with preparations before the show and had to do numerous interviews afterwards. But nonetheless it was an unforgettable feeling to be there that Saturday afternoon. What a reward for driving 1,300 km… It was a lifetime dream for me to maybe see a soundcheck one day. But that very special day in Neuchâtel I had the honour and pleasure to see not only see a soundcheck but also a full rehearsals show!

    Helsinki / Oct. 15, 2005 – Slippery When Wet!

    A week after this special day in Switzerland I flew to Helsinki to see one of the two shows at the Hartwall Areena (yes, in Finland they spell arena with two "e"). The Saturday show was in fact the very first tour concert to be announced for this next tour leg. I was a little disappointed when suddenly they added another show the day before that and even a show in Tallinn two days earlier. To see the first show is always something special because only very few people know what you're about to see at that time. Just a few hours after the first show all the news start spreading on the internet. But having seen the rehearsals gig 7 days ago my disappointment was wiped away.

    helsinkiJust a few hours after the arrival in Finland I was entering the very nice Hartwall Areena. This hall is more or less a twin of Hamburg's ColorLine Arena (which was inaugurated by a Phil Collins concert in 2002) but was built a few years before its German "brother". Most of Helsinki is built on rock – not rock 'n roll but stone. You can see this when you walk downstairs inside the Hartwall Areena to enter the ground floor. Partly there are no walls made of bricks but bare rocks. Very impressive! I'm not a big fan of fully seated concerts. But being lucky to have seat in row 4 I had a brilliant view on the stage and was very close to the action.
    Though by now I knew all the surprises I was still very curious how the whole show would work with a big audience. During the introduction Phil refrained from speaking Finnish and stuck to English. Later I got to know that he seemed to have some serious problems with the language the night before.
    It took quite a while until the Finnish crowd was on temperature and it appeared to be very complicated to stand up on the floor seats due to the short pitch between the chairs. When finally the whole venue was rocking and Sussudio was about to start Phil began to run around in circles on the stage as he always does. Upstairs, downstairs, upstairs and so on. Then streamers and confetti were shot out above the stage. Towards the middle of the song Phil did his second running around bit. All of a sudden he slipped on the streamers right in front of his drumkit – just a few meters in front of me. He ended up lying flat on the floor but managed to get up pretty soon. This accident didn't have any effect on the song performance. No line was missed and the band continued to play.
    As some may know Phil had a minisc injury earlier in 2005 and was wearing a brace around his injured knee. He had recovered just in time for the tour – and now this terrible accident! As soon as he had slipped all the crew members rushed to the side of the stage to see if he was fine. Phil stopped running and looked a bit puzzled and shocked for the next couple of minutes. But the show went on and as we all know the shows after that took place as planned. At that time no-one knew that something else was going to prevent Phil from performing just a few days after Helsinki…


    Budapest / Oct. 26, 2005 – The Show Must Go On…

    After Phil's sore throat had caused a dramatically shortened concert in Vilnius, Lithuania the shows in Prague were postponed to the end of the tour. I had planned to go to Budapest which was scheduled the day right after the second Prague gig. The morning I boarded the plane to Budapest I did not know if the show was going to happen although I knew that after Vilnius the band would have had 3 days off to help Phil to recover as soon as possible.

    budapestOne of the first things I did when I arrived in Budapest was going to the Sportarena's box office and ask if the show would take place. Answer: yes, no cancellation or postponement. Lucky me! So with these positive news in mind I really could enjoy a wonderful stay in Hungary's capital with temperatures that allowed me to walk around in a t-shirt – in late October! When I returned to my hotel in the evening which was right next to the UFO-like Sportarena I recognized some well-known faces at the bar in the hotel lobby. No, not Chester Thompson lying asleep on the floor but some of the crew members hanging out after their arrival from Prague. Another good sign which proved that the show was going to be played.
    The next day I started queueing in the early afternoon. This time I had a standing ticket again and of course wanted to make sure to be as close to the front as possible. I had the pleasure to meet some very nice people from all over Europe – England, Austria, Italy, Hungary and Germany. When the gates finally opened I managed to be among the first people to enter and made it to the front row. The most special experience was to meet fans who never had the chance to see Phil before. This also influenced the whole atmosphere that night. The audience was in an outstanding mood. And so was the band! From the very beginning on it was obvious that not only Phil but all the others in the band were so eager to play that concert after the unintended break.
    The main set was unfortunately shortened by You'll Be In My Heart and the only encore was Take Me Home (including the drum intro). Still we were lucky to get such a long set because on the concerts after Budapest (Zagreb, Belgrade, Bucharest & Athens) even songs like Come With Me and A Groovy Kind Of Love were temporarily dropped. Sadly You'll Be In My Heart didn't make its way back to the set until the very end of this leg. 
    Still it was obvious that Phil was suffering from a cold. But somehow he managed to struggle through the vocally heavier song. Every once in a while Phil coughed or had a cup of tea.
    During Sussudio I was lucky to get the mic to sing along. Not my first time ever but the first time in 2005. By the way, I was the lucky one to be the very first fan on the very first tour show in Milan 2004 to get the mic! So my stage-fright was not as bad as a year ago.

    Dubai / Nov. 10, 2005 – Rock The Casbah!

    Dubai was a kind of summer holiday for me - only because of the high temperatures of more than 30°C in mid-November. I was wanting to visit the United Arab Emirates for a long time and Phil playing a concert there was a unique opportunity to make this wish come true.

    dubai1I stayed in Dubai for a whole week because otherwise the long flight would not make sense. It was a wonderful time with friendly people, an absolutely safe and tidy city and a lot of things to see.
    The day before the concert I was on a Little Dreams Foundation charity event. In a hotel next to the famous Burj al Arab Hotel there was a tennis exhibition in favour of the organization founded by Phil and his wife Orianne. The line up was very unique with senior tennis world stars such as Björn Borg, Michael Stich, Henri Leconte and Ilie Nastase. It was a very entertaining evening and in the break between the two matches I had the pleasure to meet Orianne at the Little Dreams Foundation merchandising stand.     
    The next day the concert was going to take place at the Dubai Autodrome, a racetrack outside Dubai in the desert. An outdoor concert in November! A very special location for the biggest rock concert in the U.A.E. ever. The stage was located in the center of a hairpin bend of the racetrack. As there is not much public transportation (busses etc.) in Dubai I took a taxi to the venue. Funnily enough the taxi-driver neither had any idea where the Autodrome was nor did he know who Phil Collins was. Thanks to a look on the map before leaving the hotel I was able guide him to my destination. Finally I arrived at the venue about 1.5 hours before the doors opened. Not too early according to my experiences with general admission concerts in Europe but in Dubai I ended up being one of the very first people to be there!

    But the next odyssey was already on – which entrance should I take? According to a flyer with a venue map which I had collected at the Virgin Megastore in the city I had to take the orange coloured gate. The staff at the Autodrome didn't have any idea where I had to go and told me that I could take any entrance. Anyway, I chose the orange entrance because the ticket I had was coloured orange. I went inside but finding the right way wasn't really easy. So I walked until I had reached a point from where I could see the back of the temporary tribunes. But there was no obvious gate where to wait at.
    After a while the soundcheck started and I could hear pretty much everything. At that time some security staff had arrived where I waited and they didn't seem to have any plan either. Me and two other people were the only ones at this kind of entrance. After the soundcheck was over, they told us that we would only be allowed to enter with a wrist band. To collect it we should go back (!) to the entrance and show our tickets. And that's what we did. When we arrived at the "real entrance" about 200 metres back from where we had waited (obviously alreay inside the venue!) we saw the actual queue – about a hundred metres long - still waiting in front of the gates. After we got our wrist bands we returned to "our entrance" and immediately were let inside.
    So I ended up being the first to stage in "The Cage". That's what the standing area right in front the stage was called – funny name! When I passed the last security check and walked patiently to the very front some crew members where still figuring out how to cover some cables on the ground. As soon as they saw me they raised alarm and asked via walkie-talkie why the gates had already been opened. I tried to calm them down by telling them that me and only two other people were already inside and that the main gates were still closed.
    While waiting for the show to start I met another couple of people from various countries – e.g. Lebanon, India, USA, Syria and Bahrain. Again it was great to see people witness their first ever Phil Collins concert!
    The concert started on time though it was already 9.30 pm. A logistical challenge because after the show finally ended around midnight, everything had to be brought to the airport and immediately carried to Düsseldorf for the next show. The band only has one stage and one set of equipment. So everything had to be taken from Dubai to Düsseldorf within less than 48 hours! A logistical challenge for me as well because I was also planning to go to both Düsseldorf concerts.
    The show itself was brilliant as always though nothing spectacular happened. The setlist was exactly the same as in Budapest a fortnight ago and Phil's voice was obviously better again. As a special souvenir a golden cap with a pink veil had made it's way into the hat collection used for Wear My Hat. During Take Me Home they displayed some Arabic letters on the backdrop screen. I was told that this was just Arabic for "Dubai"!
    After the concert I was back in my hotel at around 1.45 am and had to get up at 5.00 am again to be at the airport in time. My flight home departed on time at 9.00 am – just 9 hours after the concert was finished! When I arrived back in cold and misty Düsseldorf it was early afternoon. But I had won the race against band, crew and equipment! The chartered aircrafts - the band's VIP Airbus A319 and the Antonov An-124 carrying stage and equipment – were still sitting on the apron in Dubai when my flight took off. The crew had to travel on a scheduled aircraft via Munich while I had the pleasure to fly nonstop.

    Düsseldorf / Nov. 12 & 13, 2005 – Take Me Home

    Less than 24 hours after my arrival from the U.A.E. I was already standing in front of the LTU arena to queue up for the gig that night. What a difference: more than 6 hours of flight to Dubai but just a drive of 15 minutes from my home to the LTU arena! Compared to Dubai it was terribly cold in Germany. So after long 7 hours of waiting I was happy that the doors were finally about to open. Due to some technical problems with the new electronic gates at the entrances it took another 45 minutes until we were finally allowed to enter.

    duessAgain I was lucky to get a place right at the barrier at the center of the stage. The roof of the arena was closed of course and the heating was turned on. So inside the stadium it was really comfortable. 
    As these two shows were played in favour of the Little Dreams Foundation, the LDF Band opened for Phil. This special support act was introduced by no-one else but Mr. Collins himself. He came out with some phonetic German written on his famous papers and announced the young talents. What they played was really good and their performance even made some of Phil's band members come out and watch them. Must have been great for the boys and girls to even get some attention from the likes of Luis Conte, Arnold McCuller & Co.
    From the first moment on it was clear that we were going to see a magical night. Sometimes you can tell what makes such a concert special. I had seen 3 shows and a rehearsal concert before. I had been to concerts on three continents. But now as Phil was playing just 15 km away from my hometown the concert somehow was better than ever. I could not really say what it was but there was definitely something special going on between the band and the audience.
    The drum intro was slightly extended and different than usual this time. A sea of lighters during songs like A Groovy Kind Of Love or One More Night was a great sight again. Once more I was honored by getting the microphone to sing "Sussudio" and right afterwards Phil even said something to me. Unfortunately it was too loud to get what it was. The only word I could clearly understand was "tomorrow" – no idea what the message should have been. I doubt that he really recognized me from Dubai but you never know.
    As the first encore It's Not Too Late was back in the set. What a pleasure to see and hear this wonderful song again. When the show was over I was totally overwhelmed by this performance.
    After meeting up with some fellow fans after the show I was finally at home around 2.00 am and had to get up early again to queue up for the second show.
    The next day was a kind of groundhog day for me. I was at the arena around the same time as the day before and therefore had to wait another 7 hours. Same cold weather though we had a bit more sun towards the evening. This time the gates worked fine and my "pole position" in the queue resulted in a front row place again. Once more Phil introduced the LDF Band and they played a slightly different set than the day before. It was obvious that they were more relaxed that evening. The night before they still seemed to be a little bit nervous.
    The concert itself was outstanding again – with a special surprise at the end. The drumparts were a bit more standard-like this time. The mood of this large audience was excellent again! Another full house of course. Phil was mentioning that tonight would be the last concert in Germany. This time I didn't sing Sussudio... So I guess what Phil said last night was something like "You won't get the mic tomorrow" or so.
     Now for the surprise: After Sussudio when it's time for the encores usually either the singers come out with the band and do It's Not Too Late or Phil, Luis and Chester come out and play the drum intro to Take Me Home. This time it was different and therefore I expected a surprise. First Phil did a little speech mentioning again, that it was the last German concert "for the foreseeable future" (whatever that means...) and he thanked everyone for the support over the years. Then they did Always! It was absolutely awesame. This song is one of my all-time favourite covers Phil has ever done. I had expected a surprise maybe after I realised that this was the last concert in Germany and Always was likely to be it. But it was so great when they finally really did it! Phil fucked up one lyric line towards the end but nobody cared. It was really emotional and unforgettable! It's Not Too Late wasn't played and after Always they directly started the drum thing before Take Me Home
    When the concert was over I straightly headed home because the next morning I had to catch my flight to Dublin.

    Dublin / Nov. 15, 2005 – So What's The Point?

    Another short night was ended by an early wake-up call. When I arrived at the airport and had just checked in I saw some well-known people coming towards the same check-in desk as me: Dave Rule (guitar technician), Alain Schneebeli & Michel Colin (sound engineers) among others. So at least some of Phil's road crew would be on my flight. I knew Michel Colin, Phil's front-of-house desk mixer, from the rehearsals so I said hello and talked to him while we walked past the security checks and customs. I even had the pleasure to talk to Bill Cantos' wife, Mari Falcone. They all told me that they had the option to travel to Dublin on the crew busses – a 24 hour ride! So they decided to fly to Dublin on their own.

    dublinOnce I arrived in Dublin I met a friend of mine at the airport and we both headed for our hotel next to Temple Bar. After a little sightseeing in the afternoon we went to bed pretty early. I was enormously tired after this weekend: Thursday night a show in Dubai, Friday the flight back home, Saturday and Sunday the shows in Düsseldorf and now the flight to Dublin with the show the next night. I just needed a rest!
    So after a good night's sleep and a relaxed morning in Dublin we started queueing at The Point in the early afternoon. So what's The Point? It used to be a tram depot decades ago and you still can see some railway tracks outside the building. The hall itself is very small compared to the venues I had been to before. Queueing in Dublin was better organized than in Germany although it was awfully cold and there was nothing around – not even toilets!
    Doors opened on time and it was no problem to get to the front once more. The stage looked very cramped in the hall and they could not use all of the lights. At the beginning of the show Phil tried to speak some Gaelic but obviously without much success. After his last sentence the people in the audience all looked a bit puzzled. So he rumpled his notes, threw them away and from that moment on stuck to English. The audience seemed to be  a bit lazy first but the longer the show went the more they sang along, clapped and enjoyed themselves. In the end they really did an outstanding job with the sing-along parts and cheered when Leland Sklar got a shamrock hat during Wear My Hat!
    My impression was that Phil wasn't on top of his voice that night. At first it made me a little worried because I thought he might have done a bit too much in Düsseldorf. But the show went along without any flaw. The set was the same as on the first night in Düsseldorf and looking back it was the last time for me to see It's Not Too Late. As I heard afterwards they weren't sure about playing Always again. So after the soundcheck Phil let his singers decide and of course they chose It's Not Too Late
    Everyone who has seen a show no matter if in 2004 or 2005 knows about the unbelieveable bass on the intro to In The Air Tonight. In Dublin I heard the maybe heaviest bass I can remember. It was even underlined by the vibrating and buzzing wooden floor under the stage. I think if the intro would have lasted a little longer they would have blown the roof off The Point!
    As The Point happens to be in walking distance from the city centre we didn't even have to take a bus or taxi back to the hotel. In the end it was a good decision to skip the second Dublin show in favour of a day off at home before my last trip to Glasgow.

    Glasgow / Nov. 19 & 20 – The Final Farewell?

    I arrived in Glasgow the night before the show. When I reached my hotel which was located right in front of the SECC I saw a handful of people obviously queueing in the blistering cold. They had blankets and chairs and were prepared to stay the night in front of the SECC! At first I thought they were queueing for Phil's show! However, I checked in at my hotel and went to my room. After a short break I decided to check out the SECC already before going to bed. So I walked back to the entrance. To my surprise it was still open though it was already 9.15 pm. I went inside and had a look around. As I walked past the box office I saw that Robbie Williams tickets for the concert at Hampden Park in September 2006 were going on sale the next morning. So it was likely that the people outside where rather queueing for the ticket sale start the next morning than Phil's concert 24 hours later. Totally relieved I could go back to my hotel and went to bed.
    The next morning I could see that inside the SECC masses for queueing for Robbie Williams tickets but only a handful of people were already waiting for Phil's show. So I spent some time in the city and returned to the SECC at short past noon to join the queue which hadn't changed since the morning hours.

    glasgowQueueing in Glasgow was a real treat compared with Dublin and Düsseldorf. We could wait inside the heated building. There were toilets, a café and a supermarket. Security staff was keeping an eye on the queue so no-one had a chance to sneak in from the sides. Even some people who had seating tickets and were just coming to us to say hello were asked what they were doing at the top of the queue! 
    The entry procedure was as organized as the queueing. A steward had told us how it would work hours before the doors opened. They would let in about 50 people at the top of the queue, guided by stewards so that running inside was impossible. Then they would close the doors for a moment until we had our positions in first row. Afterwards all the others would be let inside. So they could promise the first 50 people that they would stand in first row without a need to "fight" for it. And it went exactly as promised! Well done & thank you, SECC security!
     The show started pretty much on time at 8.15 pm with the usual Souareba warming up the audience. The drum intro was again the slightly extended one like on the first night in Düsseldorf. On the opening speech after Don't Lose My Number Phil virtually didn't stop talking until he realized that it was getting a little long. So he said: "Enough of me, let's get on with the music."
    Nothing much special happened until A Groovy Kind Of Love. Brad Marsh brought out the chair as usual but also gave Phil a little piece of paper. Then instead starting the song Phil said that he's going to do something they don't do very often – no, not Easy Lover but a proposal! The couple was somewhere in the audience and Phil should do the proposal for them. From the stage Phil could neither hear nor see them so in the end he said "Is this a 'yes'? I presume it is a 'yes'." Then he sang A Groovy Kind Of Love for them.
    Another special thing was the bass pedal intro to In The Air Tonight that night. I had already felt that in Dublin it was powerful but this night in Glasgow it was even heavier! Brad Cole's girlfriend was standing in first row in the audience so maybe he wanted to show off a little.
    During You Can't Hurry Love the band had a major fuck up! There is a short intermission thing in the middle of the song when the lights are dimmed for a short moment. Then – usually – the next verse follows and after that the song goes into Two Hearts. I think it was Chester who was a bit early that night to say the least. During this intermission it seemed like he already started Two Hearts instead of continuing You Can't Hurry Love for another verse. The whole mistake just lasted for 5 or 6 seconds but during the first 2 or 3 seconds it sounded so bad that I thought they would stop it and either restart the whole thing or continue with Two Hearts. But as they are outstanding professionals they somehow managed to get back into You Can't Hurry Love. During the intro of Two Hearts Phil ran around on the stage pretending to hold an invisible gun in his hands and aiming at some band members as if he wanted to say "Who's fault was it?"
    On Wear My Hat Leland was the national hero once more. He now had a tartan hat with a ginger hair piece! He seemed to like it so much that he put it on again during his introduction at the end of Take Me Home.
    The show then went on properly. When it was time for Phil to come down from the stage during Sussudio suddenly Danny Gillen appeared holding Nicholas on his arm. So Phil went towards him and made him sing Sussudio as well. He sang though it was hardly audible. As it was time for the 'one last chance to say the word' he even came towards me. Maybe he realized that it was unavoidable so one more time I got to sing Sussudio.
    After the band had bowed and left the stage it took a minute or two until the line-up for Always came back. So I knew which song would follow. Phil first did a farewell speech thanking the Scottish audience for supporting him and he remembered playing in Glasgow from the very early Genesis days on especially at The Apollo. At the very end of Always Phil said "That's for you, mum!" So finally, it was clear that June was somewhere in the audience that night. 
    During Take Me Home Nicholas was brought out on stage by "uncle Harry" Kim. Nick was wearing a plastic nose with a mustache and plastic glasses. Maybe it was a little trick to make him come on stage because he was very shy and didn't really look towards the audience. I'm sure I would have done the same when I was 4 years old! During the song he walked towards Phil with open arms. But once he got close to his daddy he took off the mask and it took him ages to put it in his pocket. Phil was rolling his eyes and standing there as if he wanted to say 'What are you doing there?' After he finally made it, Phil took Nicholas' hand and sang the rest of the song. An awesome sight! Before the band introduction part Nicholas returned to "uncle Harry" and left the stage together with him.
    After the show I met up with a whole bunch of fellow fans and we had a drink in the Crowne Plaza Hotel which is part of the SECC complex.
    The next day I started queueing again at around 11.15 am and was among the very first in line. So apart from the normal tension the doubts about a place in first row were nearly gone. That day it was a bit chillier inside the SECC. They didn't seem to have turned on the heating. The café was closed and in contrast to Saturday there was nothing going on inside apart queueing for Phil's show (no exhibitions, no ticket sales). The entry procedure worked as well as yesterday – excellent! As I said before I've never seen any better kind of organization. So I ended up standing first row. Mission accomplished! 12 standing concerts for me on this tour – 12 times first row in front of the stage. But altogether it took me more than 3 days of constant queueing!

    The show began on time as yesterday. Souareba – lights off – Phil coming out… STOP! No, it wasn't Phil this time! A guy I didn't know so far entered the stage. Taller and a bit  "bigger" than Phil. It was Peter Kay a very popular comedian in England – judging from the audience reaction. He said some introducing words, e.g. that he is a big fan of Phil's music. Then he did some jokes and finally sang a short version of (Is This The Way To) Amarillo with the whole SECC singing along! After he had finished he introduced Phil who finally came out and hugged Peter Kay.
    Then the show finally started as usual. Did I say usual? Sorry, the drum intro was really unique this time! Basically the same but yet very different from what I had heard so far. Not in matter of length but what they did was extremely subtle. Especially Chester drummed like hell maybe feeling a bit challenged by what Phil had done before. Unbelieveable!
    This time Phil's introduction was way shorter and right afterwards they were about to do One More Night as usual. The song started and Phil started singing: "I've been sitting here so long…" Oh my god, wrong line. Second verse instead of the first one! Phil tried to continue singing the rest of the first verse. But anybody who knows the lyrics is aware of that it wouldn't really work. So he said: "Sorry, my fault. We do it again." And they started it over once more. After the first – correct – lyric line I clapped a bit. Phil recognized it and looked in my direction. Lucky me, more people had started to clap a bit. So it wasn't just me - no reason to blush. But as Phil is someone who can laugh about his own mistakes he made a funny gesture as if he wanted say "Well done after all, right?" 
    That night instead of a proposal Phil just introduced A Groovy Kind Of Love with the words: "This is from Buster". Not really spectacular but I never heard him introduce this song that way before.
    After the lyric problem during One More Night the show went on quite well until You Can't Hurry Love. Again You Can't Hurry Love! Somehow suddenly Phil's voice sounded strangely low. He seemed to check his IEMs (In-Ear-Monitors) and even removed them for a moment. Finally it got as bad that he partly had to stop singing and instead made the audience sing the song. And that worked excellent. Supported by the background singers the Glasgow crowd sang most of the song! Not quite sure what the reason for this incident was because during Two Hearts it obviously was better again. As far as I heard it wasn't a pure technical issue but it seems that they somehow had some acoustical problem on stage.
    During Wear My Hat Leland had this tartan hat again. They seemed to have two because one flew into the crowd thrown by Phil. Phil himself got a Nessie hat during the song which he wanted to get rid of very soon. So in the end Lamont Van Hook was the "lucky" one to get it.
    Then it was time already for the "last Sussudio". Would Phil let me sing again? No way, I sang yesterday. So I wouldn't get the mic again. Well, when he came down during Sussudio he did the usual walk along the front row. When Phil finally came towards where I stood, I got the mic one last time! But in contrast to yesterday night I only got to sing "Su" cos Phil let me and the two people to my left sing "-su" and "-ssudio". So in the end I got to sing Sussudio again – "against all odds".
    Phil did pretty much the same farewell speech as the night before. The first encore was Always again. I love It's Not Too Late but Always has had a special meaning to me from the first time I on that heard it. So I was happy to hear it on my last show for the "foreseeable future" – with a slightly wet eye, I have to admit.
    The inevitable Take Me Home of course ended my (so far) last FFF Tour concert. After all these two shows in Glasgow proved to me that the whole band and especially Phil seemed to be a bit tired after all this touring and the extreme climate changes. As these two Glasgow concerts were the last UK shows for Phil for the near future, he wanted to do it very right both nights and we all know that especially in this case mistakes are very likely to happen. But that's what makes a live show special. I like these fuck ups – don't get me wrong, I love shows without mistakes. But these little incidents make the difference and that's what keeps a it interesting and special every night.
    Hope you liked reading this very long report. But it's hard to cut it down because there are so many memories and incidents I wanted to mention. Not sure if the tour will continue in the next couple of years. Of course I wish it would though I'm aware that a tour of Asia, Australia and maybe South America is a logistical challenge – but yet not impossible! However, if it happens someday I'll surely try to be back on the road…

    by Ulrich Klemt


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