Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Concert Review: Phillip Phillips Takes Me Away

All he does is win, win, win...

(WEST PALM BEACH, FL) So, the lovely and talented Mrs Poo and I went to see our boy Phillip Phillips in concert with John Mayer at the Cruzan Amphitheater this past Sunday night, and what a kick ass show it was.

Well, that is aside from the ass raping we got from the Cruzan vendors charging $18 for Pina Coladas and $11 for beer. Thank God I had my trusty flask, lest I be writing this review from a local homeless shelter.

Anyway, back to the show.

Chillaxing in lawn seating has always been one of my favorite atmospheres for a concert. Sitting under the stars, enjoying tropical summer breezes with a good beer buzz,, thick plumes of gange providing a nice contact high, the smell of freshly cut grass mixed with jasmine providing a natural high... ahhh, it don't get no better than that, people.

Phillip seems to feel the same way, as he endearingly told us during his 55 minute set about how last time he was at the venue he was with us in the lawn, and can't believe he's now on the stage performing for us. Humble dude, and it seems very genuine.

Of course, he has plenty of temptations to be cocky, what with two multi-platinum singles (Home & Gone, Gone, Gone) from his newly certified platinum debut album, World From The Side Of The Moon. Thing is, he's still the "don't care do yaaaa" guy he was called back on his winning run on American Idol, and I highly doubt that grounded, regular guy will ever go away.

Speaking of Idol, make no mistake: Phillips has utterly OBLITERATED the bubble. In fact, my favorite story of the night personified this with an exclamation point. You see, in the beer line during the intermission after his set, a group of big, 20-something drunk guys were all singing Home together, beer cans aloft, and then high fiving each other about how Phillips ROCKS!!

Mayer wasn't kidding when he said Phillips blasted out of the Idol bubble in record time back on the opening night of the tour. I guarantee those beer line drunk dudes had no clue Phillips was ever on American Idol, and certainly weren't giggling because he was cute.

Fact is, the P2 flat out rocks the house live, and those who've bought his album, especially the Target Deluxe version, understand how far Phillips' style is from being just a Mumfordian folk picker. He's stylistically more of a blend between Bruce Springsteen in his prime (yes, I wore my "The New Boss" Phillips t-shirt to the show), Dave Mathews (with more growl and snarl), a rocked out Eminem and Gregg Allman of the Allman Brothers Band.

What was interesting to see is how into him the crowd was for an opening act. Usually, openers play before sparsely filled stands to a mingling crowd that hardly notices them. At best, they are given a smattering of polite applause. By the end of the set, the crowd is usually anxious for them to finish so they can see the headliner.

That was NOT the case at this show. Phillips and his band commanded the crowd's attention. People walking in to get situated were stopping to see what was going on, because the crowd was REALLY into him. Even in the casual lawn area, all eyes and ears were on Phillips. Very few minglers not paying attention, and if they were it wasn't for long. The "Mayer-Stan" girl in her very early 20's sitting next to us had never heard of Phillips, and when I saw her head bouncing along to his songs I asked her what she thought of him. She said, "I didn't know him before, but I guarantee I'll be getting to know him now. He's really good."

For me it was a perfect song list, opening with an energized Get Up Get Down, a KILLER, crowd pleasing version of Man On The Moon (why is this song not a single?), his very popular single Gone, Gone, Gone, his brand new (but secret) single Where We Came From (with a great, jazz jam finish), his now famous rock mashup of rap songs Lollipop/Lose Yourself/All I Do Is Win, and my favorite song of them all, Take Me Away, which he just SMOKED!

BTW, little ol' Kenny Poo twitter requested Phillip play Take Me Away, a song he doesn't perform live very often, and he came through for me. No clue if PP did so with Poo in mind, but I couldn't be happier that he did.

Of course, he finished with Home, which is I think the new National Anthem, or at least it should be. EVERYONE knows it and loves it, no matter how old or young. I can't think of another modern song with so many people of so many ages and backgrounds who love it and know every word.

After Phillip was done, we really enjoyed John Mayer's show and came away thinking the time is coming soon that Phillip will be headlining venues like these. Perhaps next spring/summer, when his 2nd album is released, he'll get to do a major venue headliner tour.

If so, maybe he can have my favorite jazz and blues rock babe, Miss Haley Reinhart, open for him? She just rocked out the Buffalo Grove music festival fronting one of Chicago's best blues/rock bands, Midnight, (which happens to be her parents band), and they really impressed (see: Haley and the Reinharts Rocked The Grove). Also, she already opened for P2 at a Hard Rock gig last year, and should have her new EP/album out by the spring. Her sexy, down to earth style would perfectly mesh with Phillip, so consider this a seed planted.

To finish up, I'll post two videos from the show to check out, one of which I self recorded from the lawn (Take Me Away) and the other a partial of his unbelievable mashup.

 Poo out!


  1. Totally on point description of experiencing Phillips live. He's great recorded, but transcends when performing live along with very talented musicians in his band. You put the reader right there, Poo. Thanks for the experience.

    1. Thanks for the great review! It made me feel like I was there. We should send you traveling around blogging all his concerts. You know, like those reports from the road they send out from Bruce Springsteen's web site.

      Springsteen is who Phillip Phillips reminds me of. He has the emotional intensity and energy of Springsteen when I first was him in 1979. I was hooked for life as a Springsteen fan after that one concert. I hope the same happens for Phillip Phillips.

      I love Phillips' musicianship as well, both in his guitar playing, and the creativity of his compositions and jams. I took a very hard-to-please, skeptical friend to the Bristow show. She was impressed. She said his music was "interesting," because every song was different, and it didn't sound like most of the music you hear.

      You're also right about Take Me Away. It's a shame that the song is only on his Target album (which is reasonably priced on ebay right now), because the sound of the track is great. It takes the band sound of Get Up Get Down to a higher level. And the fact that it is from a poem his girlfriend wrote that he set to music as a surprise to her is precious.

      I am looking forward to those rescheduled college shows he's doing in November. I'm eager to see what he does when he's able to play for more than 45 minutes. He's got an opening act for the dates I'm going to, but I'm hoping he's able to go at least 2 hours.

      And then next year, we'll get a new album and hopefully a headline tour and more Phillip Phillips music!

      Now we just have to get you out there as the Phillip Phillips road show blogger....

    2. Thanks! If I were a single kid fresh out of college I would jump at a chance to "road blog". I'd do it for just food and shelter. However, I'm 46 with two young kids and a wife. Not sure how they'd feel about me taking off for a few months to blog with the band. ;)

      Can't wait until Phillip can headline bigger shows, at least the 3-4k theater size he was doing with MB20 if not full amphitheaters and arenas like he is now as JM's opener.

      Next summer...it shall be.

  2. Great review! I agree so much with everything here.

    Phillips Phillips has completely obliterated the AI bubble. I personally have to think hard to remember those days (he has done some much since then already).

    Also agree on Phillips' style being far from "just a Mumfordian folk picker". I like that band, has nothing against their music, but I have never understood the comparison. The Dave Matthews comparison is much more fair and I know there are a lot of DMB fans out there who already like Phillip.

    At the show we attended we also saw the crowd being very much into Phillip and the band, which is certainly unusual for an opening act. The venue was quite full when he started his set. I do believe he will selling out big venues in the near future, people have been driving great distances to see him play (me included); it's just a matter of time.

    As for Haley Reinhart opening for PP, that would be so amazing and like an explosion of the most talented people AI has ever produced. Hers and PP's are the only two albums I own from AI alum, so I'd be into that!

    Thanks for the review, cool to experience the show through another fan's eyes.

  3. Brilliant Kenny! Janice

  4. Thanks for the kind words, guys. Much appreciated. :)

  5. Well stated Poo. Phillip will be headlining sheds soon. The new Boss "IS" PP.
    Cara <3

  6. Nice to see fan who is "spot on" about Phillip! I can't get enough of him myself! Amazing review...thanks for sharing the love Kenny Poo!

  7. Great review, Kenny! OWS_ellie

  8. First word to come to mind was "WOW" I really truelly LOVED reading this post and it should be printed in a paper. Very nicely stated and done correctly if I may say. I normally do not read articles or things like this but Sir Kudos and hats off to you.. I am so excited and can NOT wait to see him in Atlanta!! I do hope that one day Sir I could meet you and shake your hand. I have to agree with the rest of the Philatics by stating "Thanks for sharing the Love Kenny Poo!" and PP is most surely the "New Boss"

    1. Thank you so much, Merri! I find newspaper reviews to usually be so ignorant and inaccurate in their comments it's hard to imagine they really even attended the show. I tried to correct that with a completely open and honest man on the ground report. Glad you liked it. :)

  9. I think you need to do a review of Stefano Langone.

  10. I believe Phillip wrote Take Me Away before Idol which means he was probably 19 ? Hannah helped with a section.

  11. What a great review! I've seen PP with JM 2X, and know exactly what you mean. He is so out of the Idol bubble it's hard to believe he was ever even on the show.

    On another note, it almost seems like Mayer is consciously trying to reduce Phillip's influence at the concerts because he turns of the big screen projectors and waits an hour after he's done before taking the stage. At least that's how it's been at the shows I've been to.

    Not really familiar with Haley Reinhart, so I'll have to check out her stuff. Thanks again for the great review! You made me feel like I was there with you~!


    1. It was the same for my show, CB. They turned off the big screens when Phillip came on stage. Guess it's JM's way of trying to make sure everyone knows it's HIS show, not Phillip's. Thing is, he doesn't need to do that. He has a captured audience of fans and is a fantastic guitar player. Must be insecure.

    2. In John's defense, it is pure speculation that John does not allow screens to be turned on. Phillip's management needs to hire a cameraman for him to be on the screens. If he had one John wouldn't say a thing about it. As you stated he gets so much love from his fans and he is such a huge star that I doubt he worries about such things. Especially since he made is clear how thrilled he is to have Phillip touring with him. Who wouldn't be? My two cents.

  12. I am P2 fan but I am not a P2 stan.

    I don't agree with your JM comment. If JM was really that concerned about P2 stealing his thunder, he would have picked someone else to open for his Fall tour.

    I am so grateful to JM to have given P2 a chance. There are hundreds of more established acts that would have jumped at the chance. What JM gave Phil is not only audience but also cred.

    Mayer may have been vilified in the popular consciousness but he is still a very revered musician for the hardcore music fans. He is proud of the fact that he is self made. His Room for Squares sold 2-3000 copies (I am not sure of the exact figure) the first week and became platinum on it's merit and spawned Grammies.

    For someone like him to let a reality TV star with a DMB copycat baggage open for him at every show, is taking a risk. Don't forget, this tour is also a watershed for JM's career after the vocal cord issues and the PR disasters of his interviews. For him to have P2 in toe for almost all of his dates is letting the world know he believes in this young man. This forces serious music snobs to have a second look at P2.

    Every musician has their idiosyncrasy. I found vaccuming of the stage post Phillip's set by Rob Thomas very strange but hey it is their show, they are allowed to whatever the hell they want.

    1. They both need each other. JM needs PP as much as PP needs JM. JM is an established artist, and PP is a raising star. They are perfect for each other at this time.
      JM's business is not charity. The fact that JM brings PP for the fall tour makes it clear that JM appreciates what PP brings to the concerts. Which clearly shows that JM doesn't think there is any risk in having PP as an opener.

      JM is a musician, he can't not see what kind of a musician PP is. PP has rare talent, necause not every singer is a good musician... JM understands that PP is a legit musician and is as good as himself.

  13. DMB copycat baggage, eh? Why not also throw out Mumford copycat baggage while you're at it. For someone who claims to be a fan you've gone direct to the terminology of his biggest haters. Buy his album and you'll find he has a quite diverse range of music and styles.

    Mayer picked Phillip because he had already earned huge credibility opening for Matchbox, has real musicial talent, has a style that blends well with JM, and, most importantly, he's a rising star who helps JM sell out venues for top dollar. It has absolutely nothing to do with philanthropy, or giving poor struggling Phillip a break. In fact, one could argue Phillip is doing as much for Mayer as Mayer is for him. After all, JM's albums aren't selling like they used to, and Phillip's has gone platinum.

    I have no idea why they turn off the big screens when P2 comes on stage, but the one thing I would bet money against is Interscope or his team not willing to pay for someone to hold a camera. The possibility Mayer wants to make sure people know he's the star is much more plausible.

    BTW, if you read my post in addition to the comments I think you'll get a better idea of Phillip's music style that simply "DMB copycat". Oh, and the fact that P2 is no longer referred to as an opening act but as a feature should tell you he's a lot more than you're willing to give him credit for.

    Seriously shaking my head right now.

  14. I have his album. I am a fan.I have seen P2 live. I like what he is doing with his music. No need to be bristly.

    I don't think he is DMB/Mumford copycat- I do think he is heavily DMB influenced, there is no doubt about it.

    It is comment thrown his way from his album review critics who gave him poor review- see Rollingstone, Allmusic. Even complimentary reviewer Billboard called his album the second best DMB release. You can close your eyes and ears to these comments, it's your choice but it is something he is constantly fighting against. I feel for him when I read these comments. They are not fair but they are there.The story is repeated in so many JM show reviews.

    JM could not do anything to promote his last album and it still went gold but that is besides the point. Album sales are not as important as you think in selling out Arenas. DMB's last ( Away from the World) is far from Platinum, Springsteen's last ( Wrecking Ball) is not that further ahead. They are great live acts and people go to multiple shows to see them live. I believe that is what Phillip wants too. You will not hear DMB, Phish, Springsteen being played on the radio.

    Your argument that P2 brings something more than other openers in terms of audience is not necessarily true. Many mid-level bands have loyal followers. JM has toured in the past with
    Keith Urban. Last time around his opener were Maroon 5. Opener is never about Philanthropy. it is about chemistry and musical sense.
    If you were to tell me P2 has more fans wanting to see him than Maroon 5 or Keith Urban than I will have to disagree with you.

    As I said, I am a P2 fan not a P2 stan. In music universe bigger than the P2 fandom he has still a long ways to go.

    He has the tools, he has the opportunity. It remains to be seen if his best is enough. I hope it is.

    1. It's a common mistake for casual observers to think radio play is all that matters in concert sales. Legacy acts like Springsteen don't need radio play to sell out shows. Mayer is not on that level, and at this stage of his career he'd be opening for Maroon 5 if they toured together, but he is a solid 2nd tier legacy performer who still commands an audience.

      However, his star is fading from a mass appeal perspective now, and he realizes he needs a rising star like Phillips to bring in the new blood to his shows. You may disagree with this, but that doesn't change reality.

      As far as the "stan" thing goes, we had a poster here awhile back who claimed to be a Haley fan who smeared others as "stans", and couched a general dislike for her and her fans with a fake front as a fan who kept it real. Not saying that's the case here, but I have my suspicions.

      As far as the critics who bashed Phillip, or continue to, as being a various copycat, well, they have as little bearing on reality as you. They are simply aping the narrative, trying to fit in, and nobody pays attention in or out of the business when the artist delivers in the studio, live, on the radio, and in the sales department.

      Phillip couldn't have a better start to his career. There is no question he's busted the Idol bubble, and now is on the cusp of headlining arenas. Deny it until you're blue in the face, it's your perogitive, but it doesn't make you right.

    2. RolligStone us a well-known Phillip Phillips' hater since the very beginning. I guess they were fans of Jessica, I have no other reasonable explanation for their excessive bitterness towards Phillip. They are not just critical of him - they are plain nasty.

      Remember it was RolligStone that cooked up an article claiming that when one of Mumfords heard Home on the Radio he thought it was him singing it. To me it sounded either too stupid or too drunk. But RolligStone posted this nonsense. Why? Can you find any reason other than to bite Phillip?

    3. First, this fake-fan said "a DMB copycat baggage"...
      In the next post this person said "I don't think he is DMB/Mumford copycat"...
      Something isn't clicking here.

      Also, only a delusional person can call Phillip's album reviews "poor". Metacritic's overall score for the album was 61/100 -- and 61 translates as "Generally favorable", this rating is higher than average.
      So what "poor" review are you talking about???

  15. Dude, it is rather insulting on your part to call me a fake Phillip fan. You know nothing about me.

    I am really sorry I bothered to post here.

    It's your blog. Just delete my comments if they are such a sticking point for you.

    1. I didn't say you were a fake fan, I said insulting the rest of us as "Stans" while casting shade on Phillip is very similar to a fake Haley fan we had in the past. If taking a little criticism while getting challenged on your assertions is enough to make you pick up your toys and go home that's up to you. All I've done is defend my opinions, and I still stand by them.

  16. Thank you for setting that guy straight, POO!! He was totally here to provoke. Some of his points were valid, but for the most part he was totally full of it and being a jerk!! He shouldn't have pretended to be a fan.

    1. Ha! Thx. I don't expect everyone to just be a "stan", and I can be plenty critical when I feel it's warranted. I just sensed a fraud from the first post, and his sudden departure in a huff when confronted tells me my instincts were correct. Honest criticism is fine, but don't bullshit me while insulting the fans. That won't fly.

  17. Hater is probably from a certain blog - fuzzywuzzy, incipt, larc, taylor, mateja praznik.

    1. I am none of the above.

      I was not going to post but it would not be cool to let someone else take the heat of the mob wrath. Just call me Hater if you can't do without a name...Ciao

    2. Mob wrath? Quite the drama queen. Glad to see you go, fraud. Please don't come back.

  18. Major Haley Reinhart AND Phillip Phillips fan and I would LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it if she opened for him on tour! OMG!! They are perfect!! I listen to their music all the time. Make this happen, KENNY POO!!!!

  19. Mega stars like The Boss, Seger and Sir Paul will always have big concert draws while not having big album sales. They, after all, have earned their stardom. I agree with you Poo,JM knew what he was doing when he asked PP to join him on tour...it's a win win for both of them. And Ms.Haley Reinhart would be a sweet compliment to PP's jazzy side...

  20. Phillip's in South America now, with a show tomorrow in Buenos Aries, and then his monster concert in Rio, where he'll be performing on mainstage in front of 80-100k people. It requires superstar status to be selected for gigs of this stature, so I think it's safe to say that Phillip will be getting a headliner tour to support his spring/summer album.