How can you enjoy Another Day in Paradise? Head for Berwick, DAVID WHETSTONE advises
Phil Collins fans will be making a beeline for Berwick later this week – unless they’re in Berwick already, of course.
The man himself won’t be at The Maltings (the town’s arts centre) because he grew out of venues like that decades ago. But his music will be in residence courtesy of And Finally... Phil Collins.
And Finally... Phil Collins is a tribute show. Given that the one-time Genesis drummer and lead singer is not known to be planning a tour of intimate theatres – although he was reported recently to have come out of retirement, aged 64 – this is probably the next best thing.
The show was put together by Tim Harper who is based in Dorset. Naturally, he is a fan. But why hit the road in homage to a man who reputedly once said of himself, after hours spent transferring video tapes of his performances to DVD: “God, I’m annoying”?
“I’ve been doing tribute shows for about 20 years now,” says Tim.
“About 10 years ago my son bought me Phil Collins’ final tour DVD. I like Phil Collins’ music. He’s been up there with them all but I’d never sat and watched a solo show.
“Actually, there were 16 of them on stage. But it was probably the most impressive DVD show I’d seen. I watched it and thought: I should have a go at this.
“I knew it would be a challenge because he’s a man who always aims for perfection in everything he does. But I put together an 11-piece band and we rehearsed for 12 months.”
The water was duly tested with a few try-out gigs and audiences proved receptive. But Tim says candidly: “For the first five or six years it was a struggle. An 11-piece band costs a lot of money.
“But it has been worth it because, even though we’ve just been through a recession, the audiences are there.”
Two years ago And Finally... Phil Collins was recognised by The Agents’ Association of Great Britain as the Official No. 1 tribute show to Phil Collins (there are others out there, apparently). This is seen as a sort of industry gold star.
From recreating the show on the gift DVD, Tim has moved thing on to embrace more of the Collins catalogue.
Last year the Best of Phil Collins Tour – the latest And Finally... Phil Collins product – proved a bit of a box office banker.
It therefore seemed “logical”, according to Tim’s people, to do more of the same in a Part 2 show, including taking requests from fans.
You could argue that, logically and by definition, a second ‘Best of...’ show is second best. But it seems nobody has been nitpicking at the box office.
The prospect of hearing hits including Another Day in Paradise, In the Air Tonight and Easy Lover performed by a tried-and-tested line-up has proved appealing enough to swell the fan base.
But who gets to be Phil Collins on stage?
“At first,” says Tim, “while we were just based in Dorset, we used a local guy who had a great voice and had done a bit of barbershop. But then, unfortunately, he got a day job and couldn’t keep up with it.
“Then we got Pete Bultitude who did Stars in Their Eyes years ago as a younger Phil Collins and is a phenomenal drummer. He knew exactly what we wanted and he’s been with us ever since.
“We’ve spent the last five years with him, building this audience. It’s always a struggle with an act of this size but I won’t compromise on the music. The industry recognition in 2013 meant a lot to us because it said that, while there are other shows, ours is the best.”
You can catch Tim’s Phil Collins tribute gig at The Maltings, Berwick, on Friday, June 26, at 7.30pm. To buy tickets tel. 01289 330999 or visit www.maltingsberwick.co.uk