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Do You Remember?


It’s a sunny July weekend in Berlin. Just a week earlier the German football team has won the World Cup beating Argentina 1:0. In politics things began to happen very fast: The Deutsche Mark has become the official currency in the GDR and the German reunion is about to take place. The euphoria of the people in East and West Germany is immense. A plethora of remarkable artists make their way into the capital-to-be of reunited Germany – amongst them the Three Tenors … and Phil Collins! One of the two concerts he played on July 14 and 15, 1990 was recorded, broadcast live on TV and released on video. Thirteen years later this legendary concert footage is released as a double DVD. Prepare for a journey back through time.


The sticker says “Taking you to the apex of delight” and it did not take its mouth too full. Still, the Serious Hits Live 2DVD will probably only rank as the second best with those Collins fans who already know the masterpiece DVD for the First Final Farewell tour. It is obvious that the maestro put incredible effort into documenting the final (solo) concert tour, but one should be fair and measure the Serious DVD (released the year before) in relation to the time it was recorded in and the intention it was recorded with.


   1 -

There were no DVDs with lots of interactive bonus material in 1990. There were videos. Nowadays consumers are spoilt and the management have to be really creative. On this DVD, they have had a bunch of good ideas.

   2 -

Technology was different then. Easy-to-use, high resolution HD cameras, 5.1 surround sound and sophisticated wireless equipment are normal today. The 5.1 sound on this DVD had to be carefully pieced together for the audience of the new millennium.

   3 -

Phil was different then, too. He had a young family, but the workaholic still played 127 well-planned gigs in nine month with a twelve piece band. The Serious tour was one of many tours of successful musicians at their best age. Who would have thought about calling it a day and looking back with lots of comprehensive close-up documentaries and interviews as on the Farewell DVD?

   4.

Making and consuming TV programmes was not yet influenced by fast video clips. The 24 minutes of original documentary with an interview and concert clips may seem slow today – but back then fans were happy to have any kind of statement from their star.


The Features

So what is there on the discs? First of all you can literally look behind the curtains of the merry-go-round design through photos and words about the stage design concept by Jonathan Smeeton, Alan Chesters and Ronan Willson. You can also leaf through the tour programme and enjoy loads of fine concert photos. Then there is the brief documentary about the tour – and of course the show itself. We shall talk about it later. Probably the best thing: The different camera angles for the show. You can choose the angle from which you would like to see the events on stage throughout the show (except for two songs) unless you prefer the cut by director Jim Yukich. Such a feature may be normal on today’s DVDs but it is quite a surprising thing for a show that was recorded some time back. Apparently nothing is ever lost with Philip Collins Ltd. Spot the occasionally wiggly shots of the hand held cameras on stage. It is also a great opportunity to compare the ways Chester and Phil play when they’re at their drumkits.


The concert

Where were you on July 14, 1990? If you decided to watch TV that Saturday evening there was no way of getting around Collins and his “10 serious guys and one even more serious gal”, at least not in Germany. Even if you were no fan (yet). I had just turned eleven and remember it well (“Oh, it’s the Another Day In Paradise guy. Hey, he can do even better than that!”) The terrific mood of the audience was contagious even through the screen. If you’ve got a decent hifi and big tv combination the feeling is still there. As Collins himself put it, the live album recorded on the Serious tour was a Best Of. A Best Of live album. All the songs (songs, not the exact takes) that can be found on the Serious Hits CD were performed at and preserved for eternity on the Berlin gig. All of them and then some, e.g. Collins’ rendition of Irving Berlin’s Always. The atmosphere? It was fantastic. A capacity crowd of 22,000 at the Waldbühne cannot be wrong. They are ecstatic to a degree that Collins has trouble continuing with his programme (“We haven’t got time for all that!”). And then there is his original, legendary, intentionally seedy but terribly funny band introduction! The German song introductions: Hardly intelligible for a German, but always funny and tongue in cheek. This Collins mass phenomenon is far less political than Pink Floyd/Roger Waters’ The Wall concert a week later in Berlin, but the grand pop event mirrors the incredible euphoria of the Wende (the time of the turning) which makes it a wonderful time capsule. Apart from that there are twelve excellent musicians, among them Leland Sklar on bass guitar and Chester Thompson on the drums, proving that they really know their stuff.


The summary

All in all: We doff our hats to you, Mr Collins and team! Okay, so the menu featuring Phil as the ringmaster is cute, but it could have been improved by a couple of sound effects or song snippets. When the parts of the roundabout cover come slowly down at the end of Take Me Home one does not feel as if one had just experienced a concert of almost three hours length, it is so entertaining. This show is a worthwhile every cent (and its price is currently less than 20€) !


by Anneke Brüning

translated by Martin Klinkhardt


Further reading:

Phil Collins - Finally...The First Farewell Tour - 2DVD review
Phil Collins - A Life Less Ordinary - DVD review
Genesis - The Way We Walk Live - 2DVD review
Genesis - Live At Wembley Stadium - DVD review


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