Phillip Phillips looked more than confident—– you could tell he was having fun. If Collateral was Phillips getting outside of himself, miles beyond the wistful folk-pop we’ve come to know him for, then his performance last Thursday at the Beacon Theatre for Bud Light’s One Night Only was a journey into his newly formed sound: untethered, stomping the terrain between slick bluesy rhythms and robust rock and roll swagger.
For someone who hasn’t toured or released much music in the past four years, Phillip Phillips was surprisingly greeted like a seasoned pop star. As he made his way to the mic, thunderous cheers rattled my eardrums.
Phillip Phillips didn’t waste any time capitalizing on this generous reaction. Opening with “Get Up, Get Down,” he quickly had the crowd up on their feet, shuffling and swinging to Phillip’s affection for soaring choruses chock-full of folksy-pop grandeur: Americana influences, ace guitar picking, rollicking drums. The following songs “Lead On” and “Don’t Tell Me” incited the crowd to sing-along with fervor—he closes the distance between the stage and floor with ease, an essential ingredient to the indelible charisma of Phillip Phillips.
Down there in the darkness of the crowd, the hysterical fan girls bobbed up and down all around me, chanting his lyrics in unison. He certainly knew how to play the crowd, but I’ll be honest: I’m not a huge fan of his soppy ballads like “Tell Me A Story” and “Where We Came From” whose hooky choruses lean on typical pop-song motifs––unrequited love, hand-holding, the echoes of fights between couples. There is an irritable, fingernails-on-the-chalkboard quality about any love song that describes the girl as vaguely as possible. It just hits me the wrong way, like waking up on the wrong side of the bed. But as I stood there watching Phillip Phillips do his thing, I couldn’t help but be seized by an admiration that blotted out even these more mundane moments. I can’t say it was a magical set, but the guy certainly has a gravity to him.