Some dreams do come true. Last Tuesday in Everett, WA, it was my turn to check the “see Phillip Phillips in first row” box next to my list of concert dreams. And it could not have been on better night since I got to share my excitement with an adoring crowd and some very faithful fans, some even coming from all across Washington State.
Fans, including me, started to line up since early in the afternoon for the chance to see Phillip and his band from as close as possible. We were rewarded with a signature Phillip Phillips set that was full of live favourites, rare tracks from Behind The Light and many surprises in between. And after playing hundreds of shows–20 or so already on this tour–Phillip has really mastered the art of set dynamics.
The show started with a bang with “Get Up Get Down,” followed immediately by “Lead On,” both songs featuring such funky, delirious jams that even the professional photographers in front of us couldn’t help but to start dancing. Next was “Fly,” a massive rocker that was performed with such intensity and skill that it could have been enough to close the show and send us home. I was laughing uncontrollably at this point, I just could not believe what I was hearing and seeing. Because it’s one thing to hear this music live, but another even more incredible to see it being made right in front of your eyes. I was particularly impressed by JJ Smith on bass, maybe because it was the first time I actually could see him play. But everybody was so impressive: Errol Cooney on guitar, Bobby Sparks on keys, Jason Thomas on drums and Joel Behrman on trumpet and trombone, and of course Phillip, who plays effortlessly and leads his band into ever higher levels of playing each time.
After slowing down just a beat with “Raging Fire,” Phillip gave us the first real treat of the night when, in a total change of pace and style, he launched into a cool, super smooth rendition of the jazz influenced “FACE.” This song and its stripped down arrangement allowed Phillip’s beautiful warm voice to shine and the great lyrics of the song to come alive. Also incredible was trombone player Joel Behrman, who infused the song with a loose, New Orleans jazz flavour that was simply delicious. The move from those intense songs to “FACE” was the perfect example of how Phillip is as effective delivering the huge jams as he is in telling us a story with his lyrics.
There is also an energy to Phillip that is both youthful (and very much his age), but also very wise, which may help to explain his wide ranging fan base. At Everett I saw everything from young girls attending their first ever concert, to older fans coming back to live music after many years, to concert veterans coming back for seconds and thirds. The element of surprise may be what keeps bringing them all back. This was evident this time when Phillip, in another stand out moment, started playing an unknown cover (to me) that was chills-inducing from the first note (it turned out to be Alice in Chains’ “Rooster”). This impromptu cover just showed once again his amazing ability to mix and re-arrange songs as he pleases, and to bring a little bit of the unexpected to each one of his shows.
Though I can’t possibly pick any favourite songs from what was played that night, special mention must go to new single “Unpack Your Heart,” a sweet song in the album that simply shines live, my all-time favourite “Man on the Moon” with its epic, head banging outro, “Thicket,” with a wonderful jam lead by Sparks on keys, and the insanely good “Lollipop” mashup that served to close the set and left fans screaming and stomping their feet for more. When Phillip came back after a couple of minutes and quietly started the first notes of “My Boy,” we knew we were one of the lucky crowds. Tears came to my eyes immediately and I can safely say that mine were not the only ones. It was not only incredibly moving and deep, but perfectly delivered musically as well.
Phillip closed his show with “Home,” but not before he had some fun with the now famous ultra-sexy intro. And if Phillip has probably sung “Home” more times that he can count, he sure didn’t show it, making us sing along with him numerous times and getting so emotional in the process that it was truly moving and powerful to see. “I hope you enjoy yourselves with us, and we will enjoy ourselves with you,” Phillip had said earlier in the night, “That way we can make something beautiful.” We did enjoy ourselves Phillip, immensely. And it was, it was all so very beautiful.
Phillip’s fall tour across the US continues until December. Check out all the dates here.
And check out some cool photos and videos, including one featuring the full audio from the show, below!
Photos and videos by Sebastian Lavigna.
Audio slide show by Lea P.
Check out the full set list here.