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Phil Collins is coming back & this is why you should be very excited

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Finally. At long last, it's happening. The second coming of Collins.

The legendary Genesis frontman has announced his first live gigs in a decade, with shows announced in London, Cologne and Paris next June.

The announcement is perfectly timed, given that his amazingly-titled autobiography Not Dead Yet is released this week, while a career-spanning singles collection, featuring all 45 of his hit singles has just hit the shops.

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He announced that he would making a live return - after originally retiring in 2011 - this time last year, but since then, other than an appearance on Sunday Brunch that was clearly beneath an artist of his standing: not much else. But now. But now the world is ready, and it's time to give this legend of the game the respect he deserves.

The entire discourse of Phil Collins is so vast that it's difficult to know where to start. An apparently normal guy, with a normal name, yet an utterly divisive figure and more often than not, a buzzword for everything that's naff.

Yet this is a man who achieved staggering success before being shunned as uncool, out of touch and irrelevant - only to suddenly gain respect from an unlikely source of hugely credible hip hop acts. Yet also a man who never rose to either the praise or criticism, simply pursuing his own agenda, making his last record an album of Motown covers, specifically because they were songs that he loved as a child.

We can only assume that the reason for Collin's constant rejection by snobs of music is because they're scared. Terrified of his brilliance and artistry, the ingredients that make him one of the best songwriters for generations.

In a ShortList interview, the unlikely figure of KISS frontman Paul Stanley said of Against All Odds: "It's all emotion, and it's all vulnerability and in that track he... eviscerates himself. It's pretty stunning in how he just tears himself open. That kind of desperate vulnerability... to be able to pull that off is terrific. The song ends beautifully and I love it. There's always grander songs or more heroic songs but sometimes the most difficult thing is to reveal the self."

It's a beautiful summary of a song that is utterly powerful, desperately sad, and truly brave - and just watch his performance of it at Live Aid; it's every bit the equivalent of Adele's famous Brit Award crowd-silencing version of Someone Like You.

Collins is an intensely honest, and open songwriter. Debut solo album Face Value contains two more songs of this ilk in the form of the beautiful If Leaving Me Is Easy and, of course, In The Air Tonight - a song that is such an insight into his emotions that Collins actually improvised the lyrics, saying "That frightens me a bit, but I'm quite proud of the fact that I sang 99.9 percent of those lyrics spontaneously."

As an artist he's often accused of being 'middle of the road', critics attacking his smooth production and lack of edge. Yet how many middle of the road artists can you name that write ten minute-long concept songs about the railway workers of the 19th Century and put them at track three on their album (Driving The Last Spike from Genesis' We Can't Dance)?

How many artists at the peak of their popularity (apart from the likes of those hip hop artists who idolise him) made an entire album with zero outside involvement, playing every single instrument - including the bloody bagpipes - and still made it a success (Both Sides)? How many hit songs do you know where the drums don't kick in until 3 minutes and 16 seconds (In The Air Tonight)?

And, while we're at it: that drum sound. Have you heard how loud the drums are mixed on No Son Of Mine? It's like listening to a metal band. The gated drums of doom, invented by Collins, widely imitated, but never bettered. Where do you think the likes of M83 got their love of giant tom fills and drums-at-the-forefront? Look no further than Phil. A man whose recording catchphrase was surely: "What this song needs is louder drums."

A studio genius; just watch the making-of Face Value documentary and you'll see a brilliant mind at work.

Never afraid to experiment, he brought in a horn section due to his childhood love of soul music - a move considered controversial at the time - and incorporated textures such as violins, vocoders and drum machines, despite his own brilliance in the latter area.

Then there's his incredible live band featuring the likes of Daryl Stuermer on guitar and God, aka Leland Sklar, on bass. If you've never heard of the latter guy, just take a look at his Wikipedia page and check out the people he's played with. And bear in mind that's a selected discography. It is an utter joke.

The only way you get this calibre of musicians playing in your backing band is by wowing the eyebrows off of your peers and gaining their respect. Collins has been doing it since day one.

Crucially though, it's when backed by such music royalty that it all really comes together; where you really get a sense of what Collins is about. In a live setting it's clear that he's simply a (very talented) music fan. He loves music and that's all he cares about. Just look at his outfit: grey slacks and a shirt that fashion forgot. A pop star stylist today would have a heart attack if they saw that (and never mind what in God's name the backing singers are wearing).

But who cares? It's functional. And, besides, nobody in his crowd care what he looks like because that's not what they're here for. They come in their tens and tens of thousands to hear him play. And to sing emotional, affecting, honest, powerful songs.

Take a look at me now, and I'll tell you: if loving Phil Collins is wrong, then I don't want to be right.

Not Dead Yet is available for preorder, The Singles Collection is out now - visit www.philcollins.com for more details


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