In January 2020, Phillip Phillips embarked on a month-long acoustic tour with long-time collaborator, Errol Cooney. Little did we know that the world was about to change forever and that for two long years the promise of live music seemed shattered forever.
But on Thursday, October 20, the opening night of Phillip Phillips’ “Where We Came From” tour, the dark memories of the pandemic quickly dissipated as Phillip calmly strutted onto the stage to greet the Fort Worth audience. And from the start, a loving and loud Texas crowd made sure to let Phillip know how happy they were to finally see him.
Accompanied by a mix of new and old band members, Phillip then launched into a perfectly calibrated set that encompassed the entirety of his 10-year career.
He started things off with the uplifting “Unpack Your Heart,” but soon turned up the heat with the funky “Get Up Get Down” and the powerful “Raging Fire,” a perfect three-song combo that firmly reassured us that yes, he was back and ready to own that stage.
The last time I saw Phillip, in Boston during the 2020 acoustic tour, I remarked on Phillip’s wonderful contradictory personality: his humble, self-deprecating nature, but also his supreme confidence while performing. This was in evidence the entire night in Fort Worth, with Phillip moving effortlessly between funny banter with the audience and his near-virtuoso guitar playing and interaction with his band. After seeing Phillip live many times over the years, this is what I have come to expect, but thinking about this contrast in abstraction, it is so incredibly impressive.
With three albums to choose from, Phillip was able to look at the past and the present with his opening night set. “Where We Came From,” from his first album (The World From The Side of The Moon, 2012), and the song that gives its theme to the tour, was given a great funky outro that let the band shine for the first time of the night. “Love Like That,” Phillip’s most recent single, was also memorable, with Phillip leading the audience in a beautiful sing-along of the chorus.
“Don’t Tell Me” and “Magnetic,” two songs from Phillip’s third album, Collateral (2018), provided some of the best moments of the night. “Magnetic,” a steamy song both in its lyrics and music, but also in its delivery by Phillip (that “I’m right where I want to be” line gets me every time), was given extended keys and trumpet solos that were delicious and seriously sexy.
Sadly, it was also perhaps the first time in a full-length, full-band show that fan favourite “Man on the Moon” and its incredible outro was not included. However, my heart was not broken for too long as about three-quarters into the show, Phillip introduced “Dancing With Your Shadows,” a brand new song he told us was inspired by difficult moments his wife, Hannah had experienced.
Featuring a steady, rocking beat and beautiful atmospheric guitars, the song is reminiscent of sleek 80s rock, its structural simplicity but haunting emotional depth a testament of Phillip’s growth as a songwriter. I can’t wait to hear it with full production on his next album.
As always, a big part of the pleasure of a Phillip Phillips show is seeing him play and interact with his band. This time around, he enlisted the help of new and old collaborators to accompany him on tour. Phillip Phillips veterans on Thursday included Evan Scott Penza on guitar and Jared Alexander on bass and trumpet, who have both toured with Phillip on different occasions.
New band members included Nashville-based Ben Satterlee on drums and Bobby Steinfeld on keyboards. Together, they provided a rich and solid base that beautifully anchored Phillip’s songs, both the radio-friendly singles and the deeper, more intricate cuts.
While in the very early days Phillip was not quite comfortable with talking with the audience, in the last several years he has grown much more confident and relaxed. During the show in Fort Worth, the connection with the crowd was constant, with Phillip responding to comments from some eager fans with quick humour and wit. It was all so beautiful and fun and the concert felt like a safe, warm embrace–a happy reunion between friends separated by the terrible years of the pandemic.
American Authors, which featured Phillip on their sunny single “Bring It On Home,” opened the show with a high-energy, fantastically sounding set. They were the perfect introduction to a night where the magic of live music and the love shared between artists and fans were truly celebrated.
In the end, when “My Name,” a heavy rock song with drumstick-twirling-worthy drums and guitars made an appearance as the closing song of the night, we knew Phillip and the band had given us their all, the energy reverberating through the stage and crowd. It was brilliant and unforgettable.
With the promise to release new music and a new album in the near future, Phillip left the stage and we, the audience, made a promise back to him: to be right there waiting for him whenever that new music and tour come our way.
Unpack Your Heart
Get Up Get Down
Love Like That
Where We Came From
Don’t Tell Me
Gone Gone Gone
Dancing With Your Shadows – (Song debut)
A Fool’s Dance
Phillip Phillips'”Where We Came From” tour continues today, Thursday, October 27th in Indianapolis, IN. Visit Phillip’s official site to get your tickets!
We would like to thank Phillip Phillips and his management team for their amazing support while covering this show. All photos by PhillPhillcom.