Phil Collins works hard for the money.
He underlined the reasons why in the first of four shows here, delivering a high-energy, hit-laden performance that was the perfect answer to critical accusations that his music is bland.
Touring in support of his sixth solo album, last year’s Atlantic release “Both Sides,” Collins, as one of the biggest-selling artists of the ’80s, is at something of a career crossroads.
The new disc, which follows the hugely successful “… But Seriously,” hasn’t rung up the impressive sales numbers of its predecessor and is not currently on the Billboard 200.
The reason for the malaise isn’t anything drastic. The new album simply doesn’t have great songs.
But Collins’ ability to write catchy pop leaves him a threat to return to megasales at any moment, and music publishing giant Warner-Chappell recently inked him to a huge contract.
Collins’ ability to draw concert customers also remains strong, as witnessed by his plans for a yearlong arena tour and his impressive L.A. performance. A four-night stand at an indoor venue is impressive in the middle of a busy summer season.
Using an elaborate industrial motif for his stage setup, Collins’ show ran more than three hours, most of it packed with pop nuggets. The newer numbers were front-loaded, leaving fans with a long post-intermission string of greatest hits.
Collins’ backup band was solid, with vocalists Amy Keys and Arnold McCuller rating particular mention for their brilliant harmony and ability to blend with rather than overpower Collins. The punchy Vine Street Horns, who showed up after intermission, kicked the show into high gear.
Although the new material follows the past Collins formula of endlessly repeated big-hook choruses, the songs don’t click in concert and served as mere bridges to favorites like “Another Day in Paradise,””I’m Sorry” and, particularly, the regular show closing “Sussudio.”
Collins chose a brief but effective encore, using popping confetti to accent “Against All Odds” before exiting by turning out the lightson a shack centered on stage as he sang “Take Me Home.”