NO JACKET REQUIRED Saturday 7 April 7.30pm, The Hawth Crawley
Phil Collins is one of the most successful recording artists of all time – a string of worldwide number one albums and singles has resulted in multi-million sales and a succession of prestigious music industry awards during his 40-year career. In fact, Collins is one of only three artists to have sold over 100 million albums as a solo artist and as part of a band – the others being Sir Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson.
When, in March 2011, Phil Collins announced his retirement, it led many to re-evaluate his considerable musical legacy. So much so that it brought him out of retirement last year to perform a short series of shows across Europe to his fans, both old and new. It’s unlikely to be a permanent return to the stage for Phil but fortunately No Jacket Required, the UK’s leading Phil Collins tribute, is continuing to perform his music in their faithful recreation of his live shows – and this April they return to The Hawth as part of their 15th Anniversary Tour.
“It’s a real pleasure and privilege to perform such great music”, says No Jacket Required frontman Dave Whitehouse. “There’s so much to choose from, it’s hard to decide what to leave out of our shows!” Formed in 2002, the band has performed all over the country as well as overseas, to appreciative full houses. Prior to that, Dave spent five years in a Genesis tribute, making him the UK’s most established Phil Collins tribute artist.
The band clearly takes its work seriously and has seen Collins perform on over 30 occasions in order to hone their take on the superstar singing drummer. Whitehouse even met Phil Collins prior to one of his arena shows in Germany in preparation for a show he performed later in Luxembourg: “He was extremely generous with his time and wished me well for my show. It was a special moment and great to be able to thank him for the pleasure his music has given me and so many others”.
When you look back at the catalogue of hits, it’s easy to see why the voice of Phil Collins provided a constant soundtrack to the 1980s and early 1990s. Collins came from behind his drum kit to take on vocal duties in Genesis forty years ago for their 1976 album, A Trick Of The Tail, following the departure of Peter Gabriel. Follow You Follow Me became the band’s breakthrough hit in 1978 and was to become the first of 20 Top 10 hits by either Phil Collins or Genesis over the next 20 years. The music has enduring appeal and saw the Genesis R-Kive compilation reach the Top 10 of the UK album charts on its release at the end of 2014. When Phil announced that he was coming out of retirement for a short series of shows in June 2017, tickets sold out within a matter of minutes.
So what can you expect from the UK’s leading Phil Collins tribute? “A No Jacket Required show lasts over two hours and we perform all the hits plus a few lesser-known album tracks”, says Dave. “Our line-up replicates Phil’s own live shows – we are an 11-piece band with a full brass section and backing vocalists. While the emphasis is on the music, it’s also a live spectacle and we all have a lot of fun. Our audience is made up of all ages, from 8 to 80 – there’s something for everyone in our shows”.
And as the band celebrate their 15th Anniversary, the band’s founder, drummer Graham Goacher, revealed that the whole project was originally just a one-off! “There were no full live band tributes to Phil Collins back at the turn of the century”, says Graham. “Just as there are now, there are plenty of guys using backing tracks and singing along – but we wondered whether we could get a full live band together. We weren’t really sure whether it would come together and so originally we just tried it once to see whether we could get the show to work!” Fifteen years later, the band has clocked up almost 200 performances which have taken them around the UK and even abroad. “It’s really special to be returning to The Hawth”, says guitarist Vic Chase. “Many of the band hail from West Sussex and so it’s always a great night playing at a lovely venue in front of a home audience who are always so supportive”.
No Jacket Required even follow in Phil’s footsteps by raising money for homelessness. They have been supporting The Bridge Trust in West Kent for many years and recently passed the £26,000 mark for their donations. “Another Day In Paradise is a classic Phil Collins track in that it has a message which connects with the listener on a personal level, like so many of his songs”, says Whitehouse. “We perform it at every show and it seemed apt for us to collect for a homelessness charity too. Phil has done so much for charity over the years and it’s a cause which he is well-known for supporting.” The band’s brochure and merchandise will be on sale at the show, with all monies raised going to the Bridge Trust.
No Jacket Required receive great reviews whenever they play, with many saying the band are so close to the original that you can hardly tell the difference. The band has come a long way since their debut at the Rock Asylum in Broadbridge Heath back in 2003. Having performed at The Hawth on ten separate occasions since then, this triumphant return on their 15th Anniversary Tour will once again be the hottest ticket in town.
Tickets priced £21.50 and are available from The Hawth Box Office 01293 553636 or by visiting www.hawth.co.uk