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Big Blue Ball (CD/2LP)

Peter Gabriel and Friends - Big Blue Ball Peter Gabriel - Still Growing Up: Live And Unwrapped (2DVD) kaufen bei
Peter Gabriel - Still Growing Up: Live And Unwrapped (2DVD) kaufen bei

Mitte der 90er kam es im Rahmen der Real World Recording Weeks zum Big Blue Ball Projekt. Die Veröffentlichung dauerte fast 15 Jahre. Peter Gabriel wirkt auf vier Songs mit.


Phil’s „secret“ documentary about the First Final Farewell tour 2005

Attendants of the 2007 Genesis tour may have noticed a Phil Collins DVD at the merchandising stalls that they did not know. We have taken a closer look for you.

Genesis are on tour again and we forget all to easily that Phil Collins once explained that he had had enough of touring and that he had decided to take it easier from now on, for health reasons if nothing else. His farewell became a sure thing for his standard countries in Europe and North America, but then he made up his mind do do what he originally set out to do, i.e. to play countries he had rarely or never played before. This included South America and Asia / Australia. That plan was put on hold because Phil was busy with the Broadway musical production of Tarzan. So he limited himself to Eastern Europe and the Middle East.

This part of the tour began in autumn 2005, roughly a year after the North American leg. In the end of 2005 he came back to Western Europe (amongst other performances, he played two nights at Düsseldorf’s LTU Arena which were “camouflaged” as charity concerts), but most of the time he played in unfamiliar territories. It is this slightly exotic leg of the tour that is covered in the DVD documentary. Its director is Anthony Mathile who is currently on the Genesis tour crew and who will probably also be responsible for the upcoming Rome DVD. 

The cover is quite dark. There is a figure in a bathrobe that might as well be a raincoat, soft light, the whole cover is in black and white. It does not become immediately obvious that this is Phil Collins. It rather looks like a snapshot from the break of a boxing match. The whole cardsleeve is simple; maxiCDs and promo CDs are distributed in those cardsleeves. Its price: 20€. There is an accompanying text by Phil Collins on the rear:

“In 2004 I came to a major decision in my life. I decided to stop my seemingly endless days of touring. I had been on the road for the last 30 years, and now with 2 young children I decided that enough was enough. It was time to say goodnight. This film documents the last stage of that goodnight tour. It covered many places I’d never played before, and some played NO ONE had played before. The result was that we encountered many remarkable obstacles.
Sadly it was during this tour that my marriage slowly disintegrated before my eyes … and there was nothing to be done but continue. Filmmaker Anthony Mathile was with me from the first day of rehearsals to the last date in Prague. Therefore he captured many moments, good/bad .. happy/sad. For me it is a film of mixed emotions, but it is also a film that touches me more than anything I’ve done before."

Let’s find out whether the DVD is worth its money.

coverAnthony Mathile collected lots of film material recorded in hotels, backstage, during the stage setup or in cars and busses on the way to the next city and to the venues. To this he added sundry sightseeing tours of band member, e.g. through Jerusalem. He then combined all this into a entertaining odyssey through Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Western Europe. Sounds quite boring? Well, no, not at all.
The DVD covers not every stop of the tour, probably not even every important place. It shows a couple of places on the First Final Farewell Tour 2005 where something interesting and peculiar occurred.
The focus of the documentary is evidently on Phil Collins and on the logistical problems crew and management face. There is the curious beginning when Phil played one show in Helsinki, Finland, then two nights in Tallinn (Estonia), just to return for another show in Helsinki. Certainly this was an interesting tour schedule, but it was just peanuts compared to what lay ahead.
On this tour the crew kept facing new obstacles, some of which were quite easily overcome. Tony Smith explains that many countries and cities simply do not have the infrastructure for events of that size. Cities in Western Europe usually do because such events are not a rare occurrence there.
We soon realize that this documentary is not simply going to be „a day in the life of“. The only recurring thing is Phil’s press work which naturally observes slightly different rituals in every country. We also get to see a lot of Phil’s private live and about his job as a father – his son Nicholas tries his hands at drumming at one point – and all those things he still can do at his age.
Next to Phil himself it is Luis Conte who has a major speaking role, as it were. His comments are quite illuminating if occasionally a bit difficult to understand. Luis is from Cuba, and he talks about the Eastern bloc and compares things to his mother country and therefore says quite a bit about communism. Ronnie Caryl can often be heard, too. He had become Phil’s friend when they were still teenagers. Leland Sklar and Daryl Stuermer make frequent appearances, too. But it is not only the band who are interviewed, there are also shots of the crew, interviews with Tony Smith and situations in which even people like Tim Brockman, the tour manager, or Tony Smith raise their voices very much. More about that later.
Another extreme of life on the tour was documented in Vilnius, Lithuania. Collins had caught a cold and lost his voice during the show. You clearly hear him just squeezing out the notes for In The Air Tonight and how he can hardly sing anything during Sussudio. Backstage we hear about the different strategies, the way band and crew try to deal with the problem, the decision to finish the show without any encores – and debates on how this affects the rest of the tour. All this is extremely interesting because you really do not get to see this very often. It also highlights Collins’ dilemma at that point: He cannot come back to Lithuania for logistical reasons, there is a banner in the first row that reads “we waited 30 years for this” and Collins does all he can and more. A little downer for Vilnius, because Collins does not play a full show. The following concerts in Prague had to be cancelled, and Prague was lucky that the shows could be postponed. The multitude of fans who had come to Prague especially to see the show were less happy. But Phil took the time to explain the problem to them in person.
Phil’s cold was not the only health issue. A fall on the stage in Helsinki had affected the knee he had quite recently had surgery on. But the doctors soon got that under control so the only thing that affected the tour schedule was the cold. He had caught it in St Petersburg where there was a strong draught on stage. The trip to Russia, particularly to Moscow, was a unique experience to the whole crew. It was noticable in Moscow that the seats in the front row had been taken by VIP and functionaries while normal folks sat and stood further away. It therefore took the dignitaries a while to warm up before the real fans started to celebrate, too. Perhaps a whiff of the old system there…
The relatively modern venues in Estonia and Lithuania were a piece of cake for logistics. Bukarest was quite a different thing. An airport hangar was being „prepared“ in the capitol of Romania and the band suddenly find themselves in a different world. It really shows that Bukarest is not really prepared for big rock musicians’ tours.
One should think they were prepared in Athens, though. Greece had often hosted big rock events. Not only Peter Gabriel but also bands like U2 had played there. What the Collins crew found in Athens, surpassed the most adventurous nightmares of a catastrophe. Instead of the usual stage building equipment the local promoter had been supposed to deliver there was a simple crane. Consequently the crew experienced a terrible delay in setting up the stage and the lightshow was not nearly ready when admission was to begin. While Phil Collins glossed it over for the press (“we are having some problems and a short delay, but the show is going to be great”), Tony Smith got really angry and had a very loud word with the representative of the local promoter – in front of the camera. Not only was the stage setup a mess, but the backstage area failed to make the transition from chaos to order, too. The musicians’ dressing rooms became a kind of thoroughfare for everybody, and things became unintentionally visible.
This is why the DVD also features a hilarious performance by Tim Brockman, one of the tour managers. At an estimated height of 6’10 and an impressive appearance, he certainly is a big guy. The way Tim tells off local security and slams the doors afterwards is just too funny. The local people in charge must have been afraid that Tim would take the venue apart…
Other problems occurred in Istanbul, Turkey, where many carpets had been hung up. Apparently people wanted to use Phil’s presence for marketing purposes. Phil’s press secretary Jaqueline (EMI France) made clear before the interview and the photo session began that there would be no photos of Phil with the carpets. The first question by a journalist was: “Can we have a photo of you and the carpets…?” Jaqueline angrily interrupts. Next questions: “Okay, what do you think about Turkish football and about the carpets?” – After that Jaqueline had to give a sound tongue-lashing – to a journalist of Turkey’s largest daily newspaper Hürriyet…
The most difficult part of the tour was yet to come. Lebanon is an empty page as far as rock concerts are concerned. Beirut is a city we usually hear about in the news, and, alas, it is rarely good news we hear from there. Day-to-day life in Beirut is far more relaxed than news coverage insinuates. London has seen its share of terrorist attacks, too, and Beirut is just another metropolis that certainly has its peculiarities, but it is not really super-dangerous. That was the view in Collins’ camp and therefore a show at the so-called BIEL in Beirut was scheduled. The show was attended by an audience of ‘only’ 7,000, but it was a capacity crowd – and the seating resembled Grandma’s cemetery of garden chairs. More important than improvised seats, though, was the photo in the newspapers: Politicians who are usually each others enemies were smiling next to each other – this is one effect of Phil Collins visiting the Lebanon.
The situation in Tel Aviv was not all that new. The way there was, though. It is only 300km from Beirut, but the trip became more difficult because the crew had to take the plane with a stopover in Cyprus. Tony Smith explains the logistical nightmare, mentions a couple of astronomical prices and that the would make a financial loss at that point. Phil shrugs it off with a calm “it’s okay to lose some money, I’ve got enough”. Tel Aviv was an open air show… and it rained. Usually it does not rain there, but it just poured down. The show was very close to being cancelled. The crew also debated a shorter set, but in the end they went out and played a full show and Phil left another audience ecstatic. Tel Aviv and Jerusulem were a special experience for both the band and the crew, as evidenced by footage of a sightseeing tour on the DVD.
Dubai is unfortunately not covered by the DVD, but Tony Smith’s trick of bringing the complete equipment back to central Europe for the two nights in Düsseldorf. By suggesting a charity event for Phil’s Little Dreams Foundation Phil was tricked into playing in Germany once more. For Collins and the band it was a home game…
In the last chapter there are some funny episodes from the bands’ quarters in Düsseldorf before they move to the island. Only Glasgow is covered. In a defeated voice, Collins reads a devastating review by a British newspaper to the camera and expresses his relief that the tour ends in Prague and not in England. Prague becomes an emotional finale that leaves neither audience nor crew untouched. Even Tony Smith had to quietly wipe away a little tear.
Phil’s farewell is over for the time being … so that’s it then?
The Long Goodnight is not just a DVD amongst many others. It is an in-depth view of an almost exotic tour through many little-known areas of our neighbouring countries and the Middle East. Anthony Mathile catches so many moods and peculiarities in an excellent way and really deserves top marks for this documentary!
Funnily enough, The Long Goodnight is sold at merchandising stalls during the Genesis tour, which reminds us that Phil’s Long Goodnight may be many things, but it not over.


by Christian Gerhardts

translated by Martin Klinkhardt

graphics by Helmut Janisch

The Long Goodnight - A Film About Phil Collins - DVD is available at the official genesis shop only.