Thanks to COVID-19, musicians around the world have traded the live stage for their living rooms or their garages, are any number of private residential spaces. Yet the living room as live performance stage is nothing new; thanks to the development of better technology in the 1980s and 90s, home recording became much more feasible. In 1993, National Public Radio approached former Genesis guitarist Anthony Phillips to record a performance for their syndicated program, Echoes. The guitarist initially passed on the offer but was soon convinced to do it. The resulting performance would appear in 1995 as a deluxe fan club package known as The Living Room Concert.
On one hand, choosing Phillips for a home show seems peculiar. His songwriting style favors lush, grandiose songs with gorgeous, intimate arrangements. Unfortunately, one man alone in his living room would have trouble replicating them exactly. For example, his song “Henry: Portrait From Tudor Times” stands as a superb highlight from his first solo album, an otherworldly baroque ode. The version here offers acoustic guitar, unfortunately meandering about ten minutes too long. The song is lovely enough, but pales in comparison to the studio version.
But other highlights abound. When he moves to the piano and keyboards, the tone becomes absolutely dreamy. “Last Goodbye” is delicate and beautiful, and gives way to the piano ballad “Collections,” where Phillips’ plaintive singing adds emotional depth, while “Sleepfall” sounds amazingly like Coldplay many years before the fact. “Field of Eternity” recalls John Fahey, while the lovely “Sistine” could be mistaken for a Paul McCartney cover.
If you are familiar with Phillips, some of these arrangements might not satisfy, sounding way too bare-boned. Yet if you’re not a fan, The Living Room Concert—warts and all—offers a nice taste of Phillips’ style and skill. The Living Room Concert offers an hour of intimate performances from a masterful musician.
Purchase Anthony Phillips The Living Room Concert: Esoteric Recordings