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.
Get Up Get Down
Man On The Moon
Gone Gone Gone
Unpack Your Heart
Tell Me A Story
Where We Came From
A Fool’s Dance
Thank you Claudia, Janet, Melissa and Linda.
Featured photo by Joanne.