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Christian Gerhardts comments on Phil Collins’ la(te)st show in Germany

Germany and Phil Collins have a special thing going. He is the only person to have sold two records (…But Seriously and We Can’t Dance, with Genesis) more than 3 million times in this country. Both Sides turned out to be the fastest selling album of 1993 (highest sales rates in the first four weeks after release). And as if that were not enough, he set another record with 240,000 attendees at four shows at Hannover’s Niedersachsenstadion in September 1994. He was so unbearably successful. Another Day In Paradise was played so unbearably often on the radio. The idea that he does not want to tour anymore is unbearable. So is the fact that he says “Auf Wiedersehn Deutschland” (Farewell, Germany) in an unbearably large stadium.

We Wait and we wonder - by Matthias Fengler“It’s still my First Farewell Tour”, he joked on the first night at Düsseldorf’s LTU Arena. He had already said “servus” (see ya) last year, but he still came back. Dubai, New York, Milan, Tallinn, Montreal, London, Beirut, Berlin, Moscow – Phil has toured half-way around the world for his Farewell tour, and there was some wistfulness in every show. Every night he confirmed that “this is my last tour”, and every night the audience whistled and booed. Tickets for the shows sold nowhere faster than in Germany. Everybody wanted to be there, no one wanted to miss the night when the singing drummer drums them down only to schmaltz them down the minute after. It did not matter that the tickets were twice as expensive as for his previous tour. Neither did it matter that one could get soaking wet in a stadium. It did not matter that one could end up a hundred yards away from the stage. It did even matter that his most recent album Testify did not live up to expectations. Everybody who had seen him soaking wet from a hundred yards away in 2004 were given two more chances in 2005. This time the shows took place at LTU Arena, a third league player’s football stadium, so one had to drive several hundred kilometers to stay dry. But that did not matter either, nor was it important that one had to wait in the shivering cold outside the stadium. After all, just when you thought you would never see him live again he came back – because Germany matters to Phil.
Düsseldorf hosted two shows, and many people came both nights for the first next-to-last and for the first final time. Finally … the first Düsseldorf shows, as it were. Most people in the audience have not got the pun in First Final Farewell Tour, or they have got it wrong: He cannot be serious. After all, in 2004 he said he would not play here again, and here he is on stage raising hell on his drumkit.
Fans were quick and vocal in their complaints: A greatest hits set with little improvisation and few changes between nights. But come they all did. The show was not much different from the 2004 show, but two new songs were met with lots of applause. The first one was Invisible Touch, a kind of homage to his time with Genesis. The true highlight, however, was We Wait And We Wonder, a song he had written in protest against I.R.A. actions and which brought up threats against his life. The I.R.A. is a thing of the past, and it must be a very special thing to play this number when he is in Belfast. At the end of the song Phil raises his fist high in the air, and it much resembles Peter Gabriel’s Biko gesture. Phil and his former band fellow will soon meet to talk about a reunion. Now then, We Wait And We Wonder.


In Düsseldorf, Phil and his band were at their very best so that a rare thing happened: The fantastic atmosphere in the audience met with musicians who really put their heart into the music. Especially on the last night Phil put a special dose of emotion into his performance, so much in fact, that he could hardly fight down his tears when he took his leave from Germany. “Germany, I’ve always loved you, you know that” – that’s what he said the first night. On the second night his voice trembled: “This is the last leg of the last tour and this is the last show in Germany – thank you to all of you in Germany, not just you here tonight but all of you for the last 30, 35 years for your support!” With a strained voice he added that he would not be playing another concert with this band in Germany. And then he did something he had not done on any show in 2005. Phil Collins played Always. It did not matter that he messed up the lyrics. It did not matter that one had been standing for hours, and it did not matter that the Arena is far too large for a rock concert. Two incredible shows have cancelled all this out. On November 13, 2005 Phil played what is probably his best show in Germany, and his final words after Take Me Home sum up his relationship with Germany: “Ich liebe dich.”

by Christian Gerhardts

translated by Martin Klinkhardt