Phillip Phillips Makes Dreams Come True in Everett

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.

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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!







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Photos and videos by Sebastian Lavigna.
Audio slide show by Lea P.
Check out the full set list here.

Phillip Phillips Goes Back Home for Music=Change

It may have been one of Phillip Phillips’ most special shows to date, and for more reasons than one. Last Friday Phillip performed as part of Music=Change, a fundraising event for Mission Change, a non-profit organization that promotes deep community change from “your own backyard.” Based in Albany, GA, Mission Change was co-founded by Phillip’s own sister La Donna Urick, so Phillip’s contribution to the event was truly fitting and special. The fundraising concert featured a number of local bands in addition to Phillip, and helped highlight some of the organization’s accomplishments in the community.

The event also marked Phillip’s first home town performance since his Home Town visit during Idol back in 2012, which meant that Phillip played not only for fans and supporters of Mission Change, but also for many of his friends and family. For the special occasion Phillip brought along his acoustic guitar duo partner Errol Cooney, who helped him play a amazingly passionate set for the 2000-plus audience.

Click here to learn more about Mission Change.

And if you haven’t yet done so, check out Phillip and Errol’s incredible acoustic set below.


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Videos by Lea P.
Photo credit: Albany Herald

 

Exclusive Interview with Guitarist Errol Cooney

One of the best things about being a music fan is making discoveries, the way listening to one band leads you to discover another one, and admiring one musician leads you to love another one. So is the case with Phillip Phillips fans, who in the last couple of years have been lucky to be introduced to Errol Cooney, a guitarist and music scene veteran who has quickly become synonymous with Phillips’ wildly diverse sound. From rock, to soul, to jazz and funk, Cooney has done it all, having played small and big stages with artists such as Lalah Hathaway, Christina Aguilera and music giant Stevie Wonder.

As Phillips’ lead guitarist and acoustic guitar duo partner, Cooney brings an incredible range of influences that help him create soulful melodic landscapes around Phillips’ intricate playing and writing. Phillips and Cooney’s collaboration was captured last year in the iTunes Session (a beautiful and raw acoustic album) and more recently on Phillips’ second album, Behind The Light.

Errol Cooney took a few minutes out of his busy touring schedule recently to answer some questions exclusively for PhillPhillcom. Read on to learn about his wide-ranging musical influences, his collaboration with Phillips on Behind The Light, and the one word that may help explain his very cool and chill vibe.

PhillPhillcom: How old were you when you started playing?

Errol Cooney: 12.

PhillPhillcom: Did you always know you wanted to play the guitar? Were your parents supportive of your musical ambitions?

EC: I got interested when I was around 8 or 9 when I saw both of my older brothers, Michael and Brian playing and singing. My parents were very supportive. They are both very creative in their careers; my father is an actor and singer, my mother an actress, singer, pianist and writer.

PhillPhillcom: Who were you major influences or inspiration when you were starting out?

EC: At first classic rock; The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, James Taylor, Stevie Ray Vaughn, The Eagles and Jimi Hendrix. I’ve gotten into all sorts of things since-heavier stuff like Ministry and Sepultura, then Parliament-Funkadelic, Steely Dan, James Brown, Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Wes Montgomery, Joe Pass, John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk and a million others as I got older. This list could go on forever!

PhillPhillcom: You have performed with some big names in music, including the legendary Stevie Wonder. What was your first big, “I made it” show and was it what you expected it to be?

EC: I don’t think you ever necessarily “make it” but getting to do the Stevie Wonder gig has been pretty special to me. I’ve idolized him since I was very young. The first major tour I did was opening for R. Kelly with a singer named Sunshine Anderson. That was a lot of fun. I don’t believe you can ever stop growing as a musician and become complacent. If you do, it’s time to do something else.

PhillPhillcom: You have also recorded with many other musicians in the studio. Do you consider yourself to be more of a live guitar player or a studio musician? Do you prefer one more than the other?

EC: I’ve been lucky enough to do a lot of both and I love doing both. They are amazingly different, especially as recording technology has changed so much over the years. There’s nothing like the rush and energy of playing live with a group of musicians for people that are there sharing that energy with you. And there’s nothing like creating music in the studio with artists, producers and musicians that you hope will stand the test of time. You get to dig through it with a fine-toothed comb and be spontaneous at the same time.

PhillPhillcom: In the last couple of years you have become well known to Phillip Phillips fans as his guitar duo partner and lead guitar player on his band. How did you come to work with Phillip?

EC: I have worked with American Idol as a hired musician for many years. Particularly in the house band for the tour Phillip was on. We started doing radio shows together as a duo at the time and hit it off. We have a good time playing along with the rest of the group. He’s a special talent.

PhillPhillcom: How is it going from a very large band setting (such as when you perform with Stevie Wonder), to essentially a rock band setting as you have in Phillip’s band?

EC: It’s a lot of fun. I love the rawness of Phillip’s project.

PhillPhillcom: The iTunes Session, which you recorded with Phillip last year, is a fans’ favourite; it captures your collaboration with Phillip really well. How was it recording that?

EC: A lot of fun. Very spontaneous. We went in there for a very short amount of time and came out with something I think we are both proud of.

PhillPhillcom: You also got to play on Phillip’s new album Behind The Light. There are so many beautiful guitar moments on this album. Do you have any particular songs from Behind The Light that you loved working on?

EC: “Face” was really cool. I love the writing he did and it’s very minimal live arrangement. There were lots of others I enjoyed a lot- “Fly,” “Trigger,” “Raging Fire” to name a few.

PhillPhillcom: You are setting up to go on tour with Phillip very soon. What are some of your favourite cities or venues to play in?

EC: Vancouver tonight! Austin, Rio, Quebec City, Red Rocks in Colorado, Bay Area, Paris, Amsterdam, I love everywhere I go!!

PhillPhillcom: You have played hundreds of shows through your career, both with Phillip and many other musicians. Do you have any really memorable or favourite performance from past tours?

EC: River Plate stadium in Buenos Aires, Paris with Stevie Wonder, Glastonbury Festival, Bonnaroo, Red Rocks with Phillip, the White House, A Capitol Fourth.

PhillPhillcom: What band or musicians are you into right now that you can’t stop listening to on your iPod?

EC: Radiohead right now as I write this.

PhillPhillcom: The world is ending, you have to save three albums that, if you survive, you will have to live with for the rest of your life. Which ones do you take with you?

EC: Axis: Bold as Love-Jimi Hendrix, Songs in the Key of Life-Stevie Wonder, Abbey Road-The Beatles.

PhillPhillcom: Finally, Errol Cooney in one word:

EC: Sleepy.

Phillip Phillips’ Perfect Summer Night In Vancouver

There is a reason why Phillip Phillips fans are travelling far and wide to see his shows: they just keep getting better and one is never enough. But this time Vancouver fans didn’t have to go very far as Phillip came back for the second time in just a few months to play the opening show of the PNE’s Summer Night Concerts series.

Casual fair goers and fans started to gather at the PNE’s West Jet Amphitheatre early in the evening to wait for Phillip, who made his way to the stage just after 8:00 pm. There was no opening band, so the fans quickly got what they came to hear, a full 1 hour 40 minutes set that included songs from both his albums and some of his most famous covers.

“Let’s dance and have a good time!” Phillip told the crowd as he unassumingly took the stage, the sun still shining behind him. He then launched into “Searchlight,” the opening track from his new album Behind The Light and then into the energetic “Get Up Get Down,” two of his most upbeats songs. But as the evening turned into night, Phillip took us to a few darker and deeper places as well, and we were just as happy to follow him there too.

It’s a well known fact by now that Phillip has assembled an insanely talented band, and that his shows are as much about beautiful storytelling as they are about pure and simple jamming. That was on full display at the PNE show. To single out any instrument would be almost unfair, but last night both Bobby Sparks on keys and organ and Errol Cooney on guitar really elevated songs to special new places. Particular mention goes to “Trigger,” which was incredibly moving with delicate touches from Cooney and lush dramatic effects from Sparks. The best part was perhaps a new cool and intense jam at the end of the song; this is after all what some fans are coming back for, show after show. The incredible Jason Thomas on drums, JJ Smith on bass and Joel Behrman on trumpet and trombone completed the band, each shining at many different times during the show. Through it all was Phillip with his boundless energy and electricity, which never detracts from his impeccable delivery and authentic emotion. He is a true captivating and magical performer.

Phillip played the hits (“Raging Fire,” “Gone Gone Gone”) as well as his new “official” single “Unpack Your Heart” (“whatever that means” he told us with a laugh), the incendiary “Fly,” and my all-time favourite “Man On The Moon.” In between songs, new quiet and atmospheric intros or outros kept us guessing and falling deeper into the night’s spell. And in a repeat of last time’s most magical moment, the Vancouver crowd once again lit up with hundreds of lights to accompany the beautiful lyrics of “Tell Me A Story,” which Phillip made even more special by adding some lines from “Somewhere Over The Rainbow.”

As if all of this wasn’t enough, Phillip closed his set with his “Lollipop” mash up, a virtuoso blending of covers by Lil’ Wayne, Led Zeppelin, Eminem and DJ Khaled that drove fans into a true frenzy of pure musical bliss. By the time he came back for his encore with the haunting “A Fool’s Dance,” there is no doubt that Phillip had the crowd on the palm of his hand. Of course, he closed the show with “Home” and led us to sing along with him for one last time. We wished we could have kept singing all night long.

Check out some photos and videos from the show, as well as some pics of Phillip’s cool Meet & Greet earlier that day.

Set List
Searchlight
Get Up Get Down
Lead On
Raging Fire
Fly
Man On The Moon
Gone Gone Gone
Unpack Your Heart
Tell Me A Story
Trigger>>>
Where We Came From
Lollipop

A Fool’s Dance
Home





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Thank you Claudia, Janet, Melissa and Linda.
Featured photo by Joanne.

Phillip Phillips At Lucky Strike Denver

Phillip Phillips brought his guitar, and his bowling shoes, to Lucky Strike Denver last Saturday for a special acoustic performance and CD signing. And fans in attendance were very lucky indeed as Errol Cooney and Dave Eggar, Phillip’s guitarist and cello player, joined him for the exclusive acoustic performance.

The trio performed three songs, two of them from Phillip’s new album Behind The Light. Though the show was scheduled to start at 1:00 pm, fans–including many from out of state there to see Phillip’ show at Red Rocks later that evening–started lining up as early as 7:30 in the morning to make sure they got a good spot inside the venue. The dedication of fans paid off, as they were treated to an incredibly rocking and inspired performance.

Check out some videos and photos from the event below!

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Phillip Phillips Steps Behind The Light And Emerges Triumphantly

We waited, we listened to the snippets, we counted down the days, and finally, it is here. To the sheer joy of Phillip Phillips fans everywhere, Behind The Light was released at midnight on Monday; within an hour it had reached number 1 on the Pop Charts on iTunes, a testament to the huge anticipation and the incredible support from Phillip’s ever growing fan base. It’s only been a few hours and a few listens, but I feel I can say without hesitation that Behind The Light has exceeded all my expectations and hopes, and keeps proving that Phillip Phillips has arrived and is here to stay.

It’s easy to make comparisons, but it’s inevitable to look back and see how much Phillip has accomplished in just two short years and admire his steady and assured growth as a musician and as a songwriter. And in Behind The Light we see him not only expand his song writing vocabulary but bring into the studio the energy and exhilaration that have come to define his live performances.

I feel that confidence has always been an important quality of Phillip’s music. But where you saw the confidence you also saw the effort behind some of the songs on The World From The Side Of The Moon. In this new group of songs you can feel not only a new maturity but a new ease in his songwriting, a more direct way of expressing his ideas while still conveying the same or more complexity. This goes both for the lyrics and the music, but in particular for the lyrics. Phillip has said that the new album is about growing up, about both the fear and the beauty we experience as we get older. But another recurrent theme is truthfulness, which he explores through many images of darkness and light, fire and release. So though musically the album may be very different from song to song, the lyrics unify it in tone and feeling.

The album starts with “Searchlight,” a song whose rousing beat and background vocals contrasts with delicate lyrics about healing and redemption. It’s a perfect introduction to the journey the music will take you: there is light and darkness in every song, mournful undercurrents to the most hopeful of songs and light and hope shinning in the most sorrowful ones.

By the time Phillips sings “I see myself again/Behind the Light I flicker” in “Alive Again,” we are well into the themes of the album, the words here conveying the idea of what he is when in darkness, the true side of himself that nobody gets to see. And in “Unpack Your Heart” he touches again on acknowledging what is hidden, of revealing ourselves as we are to each other, of letting go without fear:

“Meet me where the sunlight ends/Meet me where the truth never ends/Bring all that you’re scared to defend.”

I tend to be moved more easily by music than lyrics, but this album contains so many intimate, carefully crafted lyrics, that I think they really define Behind The Light; nothing here is an afterthought. The world From The Moon already showed that Phillip has a beautiful way with words and here we can see his eye as writer sharpening and blooming, finding just the right words to create immediate images in your head that break your heart or fill it with hope (“Alive Again”), convey the passion of unending love (“Raging Fire”), the pain that creeps into a tortured mind (“Trigger”), and the heavy heartedness of fear (the quiet, repetitive mantra of “everything will be better now” in “My Boy”).

Musically, Behind The Light is very diverse, going from the stripped but incredibly rich sound in a song such as “Face,” to the sparse percussion and baroque sounding strings in “My Boy,” to sleek, intricate drums and incendiary pedal steel guitar in “Fly;” each song is allowed to be what it needs to be.  Phillip has said many times that with Behind The Light he set out to do an album that would capture his “live band” sound and I think he really succeeded in doing that; the album has an incredible, organic energy throughout. A good example is “Don’t Trust Me,” a fantastic funky song (with some of the most introspective lyrics on the album) which really captures the live feel of the band, with amazing bass and horns that will be explosive in concert. As always, Phillip’s vocals are passionate and stirring, with subtle inflections and phrasing that brought tears to my eyes more than once.

Looking at the liner notes we can see Phillip reunited with the same team that made his first album such a great success: producer Gregg Wattenberg, and writers Derek Fuhrmann, Todd Clark and David Ryan Harris. It also includes an amazing new collaboration with Finian Greenall of Fink on “My Boy.” An added thrill is seeing Phillip listed as a producer on the album and the excellent members of his band playing on it, Errol Cooney on guitar, Philip Dizack on trumpet, Dave Eggar on cello, the incredible Jason Thomas on drums, “JJ” Smith on bass and Bobby Sparks on keyboards.

Most people will be downloading this album, but if you happen to own a physical copy, you will get to enjoy the amazing art by Rob Carmichael, which brilliantly captures the theme of darkness and light, shadows and fire throughout. Take a look at the images as you listen to the album and you’ll see the themes beautifully play out, poignantly, until the end.

I am the ultimate romantic, and as a fan, I care about artistic integrity and depth. Behind The Light has both–I never doubted it would. With this album Phillip has opened up and shown us what is behind the light; what we find there is beautiful to see.

Review by Andreina Romero

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