The rock and roll pundits who have been spending an increasing amount of their time trying to figure out why Phil Collins is such a huge success might well lay off the babble about his balding pate, his less than flashy demeanor and the state of American popular music and instead do what tens of thousands of Chicago area folks did Monday night at Poplar Creek: Just listen.
After hearing and observing Collins' eminently satisfying and frequently spectacular two-hour performance, one is left not with a series of niggling questions about his popularity but rather with renewed admiration for the forcefulness of well-crafted songs played in a straightforward manner.
Embellished not at all by the pyrotechnics and studied outrageousness that have come to characterize too many of the nation's most popular groups, Collins and his Hot Tub Band, especially guitarist Daryl Stuermer and drummer Chester Thompson (along with the splendid playing of the nattily attired four- man Phoenix Horns), provided a well-structured selection of material from Collins' latest album, "No Jacket Required," as well as material from two previous ventures, "Face Value" and "Hello . . . I Must Be Going."