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STUCK IN THE '80S

With injured spine, Phil Collins can play drums no more, no more, no more

Shocking news: Former Genesis and solo artist Phil Collins says he can no longer play the drums.

"After playing drums for 50 years, I've had to stop. My vertebrae have been crushing my spinal cord because of the position I drum in," Collins told London's Daily Mail (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-1212596/I-play-drums-says-Phil-Collins.html). "It comes from years of playing. I can't even hold the sticks properly without it being painful, I even used to tape the sticks to my hands to get through."

Collins had already (sorta) called it quits on his music career after the last Genesis reunion tour. Though he did curiously tell the Mail, "Don't worry, I can still sing."

Posted by Steve Spears at 01:45:09 PM on September 11, 2009

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It's Pandemonium: Pet Shop Boys are never 'Being Boring' in Tampa concert

Cubes on heads. Cubes on stage. Hats that look like strutting peacocks. Video displays, strobe lights, confetti, a half dozen wardrobe changes. Yep, it had to be a Pet Shop Boys concert.

Unless you've seen Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe perform in person, it's pretty damn near impossible to describe the experience. The "Euro-disco poet laureates," as Rolling Stone once dubbed them, played the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center on Thursday in front of a crowd of worshiping fans -- and a few curious bystanders. Here's how it went down.

RUNNING LATE: The days of concerts running really late are behind us, right? But PSB took the stage about a half hour late, giving the anxious crowd a chance to hear 30 minutes of house music that sounded straight from happy hour on Logan's Run.

THE CUBES: The stage was covered with white cubes. And Neil and Chris performed with cubes on their heads for the first song Heart (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yLGgDt4ZTEU) from the 1987 album Actually. Backup singers wore cubist outfits for much of the night as well. The stage cubes ended up being the "video screen" for much of the night. Of course, during Building a Wall (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bOLVxDxuS2w), the wall of cubes falls apart. Roadies wore white lab coats and safety helmets to move things around between songs. Nice touch.

THE NEW STUFF: The set list was full of tunes from their new album Yes, but that's a good thing. It's an excellent project and tunes like Did You See Me Coming (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Hy4bT0ESfc), Pandemonium (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s0B1s6cOJDA), Love Etc. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o8iWC9lg7js) and All Over the World (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jGbD0NRKPy8) sound even better live.

THE SNAFUS: You miss electronica music, don't you? Well, you probably don't miss the obligatory computer problems that come with it. Thursday, after a fantastic version of Go West (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9G75tH2wfvQ), the computer system was stubborn about wanting to replay Love Etc. "We have a slight computer problem," Neil said cheerfully. "It'll be fixed in a minute." And indeed it was.

MORE COOL STAGE PROPS: You gotta love backup singers/dancers dressed as New York skyscrapers during Why Don't We Live Together (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CGk2drap56U). Even the stoic Chris Lowe got out from behind his keyboards to dance with them for a while. (I swear I even caught him smiling during It's a Sin (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dRHetRTOD1Q).

THE SLOWER MOMENTS: Neil donned a tux for a slow swim through Closer to Heaven (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MEbNgOYB_eM), King's Cross (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9fv8YiZXlOQ) and The Way It Used To Be (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GPDDNR2PCuc). It's on these tunes that you realize, wow, the guy's voice is better than ever today.

THE BIG MOMENTS: The crowd erupted for Always on My Mind (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wDe60CbIagg) and It's a Sin, which was the first set finale. But Being Boring (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jMtPu6QyRzQ), Left to My Own Devices (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5IfIh4CMCYI&feature=fvw) and Jealousy (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qvN-a2CsEe0) also found appreciative ears. New York City Boy (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sOIKzdrsOGc) wasn't expected to show up on the set list, but there it was last night. A simple but satisfying version of their first big hit, West End Girls (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sd_K6Yk4-oE), closed out the show.

WHAT TO TAKE AWAY: There's no such thing as a throwaway song at a PSB concert. Every tune is theater, an act to be played out. If you close your eyes, even for a few seconds, you miss out on some subtle treasure.

Posted by Steve Spears at 09:58:06 AM on September 11, 2009

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Nils Lofgren on E Street Band's future: 'Life is not a guarantee'

This is a big year for Bruce Springsteen. The Boss turns 60 (Sept. 23), his Born in the USA album turns 25 and he and his friends with the E Street Band are near the end of two-year-long tour that brings them to Tampa this Saturday.

Rumors out there say this could also be the last tour for the E-Streeters, or at least Clarence Clemons and Max Weinberg.

Hang on there. Guitarist Nils Lofgren, whose has toured with both Springsteen and Neil Young over his long career, wants a word with you rumor-mongers first.

"Life is not a guarantee. I will say we're in the best stage of our lives musically," Lofgren told Stuck in the '80s this week. "Offstage, it's like a fricking MASH unit with heating pads, ice packs. But onstage, we're really kicking it hard. Rather than worry about the future, I'd buy a ticket for one of these remaining shows because we're really on fire."

What else was on Lofgren's mind? You can listen to the whole audio interview right here (http://www.tampabay.com/specials/2009/audio/nils_lofgren/). But here are some highlights:

ON THE (THUNDER) ROAD AGAIN: "This month is 41 years on the road for me. It's a little scary. When I hit the road when I was 17 in 1968, I never would have been this greedy to think 41 years later I'd be on the road with a band like this."

BRUCE vs. NEIL YOUNG: "I think the commonality is that they're the two greatest writers we have on the planet. They're both still inspired performers. They both like to do loose, reckless shows. But in general, they're really hands-off. If they pick you to play with them, it's usually because they trust your instincts. That's the point of having a great band."

JOINING THE E STREET BAND BEFORE BORN IN THE USA TOUR: "It was a pretty ass on fire thing. This was four weeks before opening night of the Born in the USA tour. I was so challenged to get so much done. It was 20 shows on the road before I really felt comfortable."

MORE 'BORN' TUNES THIS TOUR? "Not intentionally. Actually, for the first time in years, we started doing Born in the USA a couple times, which is an incredible piece. What does that say about your body of work when you get away with doing two years on the road and never playing Born in the USA? That says volumes about the song list Bruce has to choose from."

Stay tuned for our full "Bruce in the '80s" podcast next week.

Posted by Steve Spears at 02:45:00 AM on September 11, 2009

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