Seeing “Still Not Dead Yet”

We had the good fortune recently to get free tickets to see Phil Collins in Atlanta for the macabrely titled “Still Not Dead Yet” tour. While K and I brought the average age of the audience down a bit, we are big fans of his music.

Phil Collins Still Not Dead Yet Live!

K and I have managed to get to a number of concerts in the last year or so, which is unusual for us. We went to see Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (RIP Tom!) when I was pregnant with T, then took a long hiatus. In the last year, we have seen a number of shows:

  1. Def Leppard, Journey, and The Pretenders
  2. 2Cellos
  3. Florence + the Machine
  4. and obviously, Phil Collins

Based on the title of the show, perhaps we shouldn’t have been so surprised at the singer walking out on stage with a cane and spending the whole show seated. His voice sounded more nasal than the songs we hear on the albums do—I’m reminded of watching Enrique Iglesias at the Houston Rodeo in the early 2000s and finding that his Spanish sounded like the radio, but his English was super-nasal. American accents are typically more nasal than British ones, but I wonder if age just did Phil Collins’s voice in.

The show had an impressive band, including four backup/duet singers, a full horn ensemble, and not one but TWO drummers. Phil Collins was especially proud to present the last of these, his 18-year-old son, who has been playing with the tour for the last two years.

An accomplished drummer and pianist, Nicholas was amazing to watch. My favorite part was watching the interaction between father and son. They performed alone together while Nicholas played piano, and the three drummers performed a percussion piece together with their hands.

Since Phil Collins is known for playing the drums, it must be an especial honor and challenge for his son to be on tour with his father. Obviously, Nicholas is incredibly talented—could you imagine Phil Collins permitting subpar drummers in his show?

Then you puzzle over how this young man became so good so young… Is musical talent genetic? (Maybe…) Is he driven? (Definitely.) Is he sacrificing some other desired skill set to focus entirely on this? (I’ll never know.) And maybe the opportunity to perform with his ailing father is enough to make up for any other sacrifices.

At the same time, I’m reminded of what I have read in Malcom Gladwell’s “Outliers,” that opportunity to gain exposure and practice takes natural talent to another level. Of course a musician’s son would certainly be exposed to music and different instruments in a greater way than someone without such a background, so he’d get his fabled 10,000 hours of practice in long before someone with a different exposure rate.

Given that, perhaps Nicholas Collins’s impressive musical skillset is not so surprising. I will say that it was an absolute joy to watch the show, and I look forward to following Nicholas Collins’s musical career.

A New Stargazer Conservatory Novel: Bonds of Iron

On Saturdays, you can check out a snippet from my latest writing efforts.  All snippets are copyrighted.  These excerpts from my writing are first draft, unedited words, and may not appear in the final work.

This is the opening scene of the new Stargazer Conservatory novel I’m working on, “Bonds of Iron.” It continues in the same world as the Sea Deception series, and I’m not done with Kai and Maryn yet.


Parisa ran out of the surf as fast as her legs could manage the waves. She couldn’t believe she’d made it this far without being caught. As soon as her feet hit the sand, she sped up, disregarding all the curious looks and running past the line of restaurants to the sandy pavement where the parking lot began. Water dripped down her legs, making tiny rivulets along her skin as she looked around wildly.

The doors to a minivan stood open, the seats filled with a group of laughing boys and a girl. Their damp suits and tired, reddened faces indicated they were leaving, not arriving. She noticed all of this without slowing down.

Perfect, Parisa thought. She ran to them, reaching a hand to rest on the upholstered seat where a guy was dusting sand off a flipflop. “Please, can you help me? Just pretend I’m your girlfriend or something. I have to get out of here,” she gasped out.

The group in the van all looked at her like she was mad, which she supposed could only be expected. Here she stood, barefoot, clad only in a wet bathing suit, water still dripping from her hair. She had no bag, no towel, no money… What was she going to do if no one agreed to help her? She couldn’t go back there, not again. They would punish her worse than before for this most successful escape attempt.

Parisa turned her gaze to the nearest boy. “Please…I have to get away from them.”

“Get in,” he said, extending his hand to her. “Let’s go, dude. We can text Matt to catch up with us later.” He gently tugged her until she was perched on his lap, much like the other girl on the far seat. The long legs of the three teenage boys along the bench seat readjusted so she could fit in.

“You sure, man?” The driver still hesitated.

The boy holding her studied Parisa a moment longer. “Yeah, I’m sure. She needs our help.”

Parisa let out another breath, this time in relief. The stitch in her side, the cramp in her leg, and the fear of still being caught all combined to leave her dizzy. The boy’s steady hands on her waist and his warm skin under her legs inexplicably calmed her. As the vehicle lurched forward, his hands tightened, one arm slipping protectively around her waist. Almost as if he really were my boyfriend, Parisa thought.


I’m well into this new novel! “Bonds of Iron” is a small departure from my mermaid series, “Sea Deception,” but it continues the story. Have you read “Sea Dreams” yet?