Glen Phillips. At Avastar, Berlin, Germany, Tuesday, November 21.
There is something precious about seeing musicians perform in an intimate setting. Whether it is David Bowie enthralling 400 people in Sydney’s Tivoli or Randy Weeks‘ getting Los Angeles’ postage stamp-sized Cinema Bar jumping, the intimate ones are the most rewarding as the aura doesn’t just infuse the music, but it seduces the spirit too. And last Tuesday night, another performance was added to the list: Glen Phillips at Berlin’s Avastar.
The diminutive Kreuzberg bar ensured a cozy setting and, in front of a handful of friends, a bevy of fans, and a surprising number of people who were introduced to Santa Barbara’s favorite son via his recent tour in support of Teitur, Phillips threw forth an eclectic set of beared and borrowed songs. What made this performance so special was the connection Phillips made with his audience. Both performer and audience let down their guard and truly embraced the experience of exchange.
For everything Phillips offered in passionately and exquisitely executed compositions, the audience returned in praise. And when Phillips asked what songs people wanted to hear, titles such as “I Want A Drug” and “Walk On The Ocean” sprung from the room. For equally apparent as Phillips laid-back disposition was the German crowd’s awareness of his musical catalogue.
From the gorgeous “Everything But You” to a rousing rendition of Randy Newman’s “Political Science,” it was a perfectly tempered set that Glen Phillips threw forth. But the evening’s finest musical moment resided in an inflictingly melancholic new composition tentatively titled “Rise Up.” A reflection perhaps of the forlorn that everyone in the German capitol is currently feeling as the skies turn dark and temperatures plummet, this is a song of raw and inflicting emotion.
His current musical adventure is Phillips’ first serious foray into Europe. And while Tuesday night’s performance, by his own standards, might have been witnessed by but a privileged few, one senses that a much greater awareness of Glen Phillips won’t take long to build. And when he is out playing theaters across Europe, this will be one of those intimate shows that those fortunate enough to be there will be passionately recalling.