As a laid-back 22-year-old wearing TOMS shoes, a pair of dark jeans and a plaid shirt, Phillip Phillips could have been mistaken by just another student at Belmont when he hit the stage on Sunday.
Yet, at 6:15 pm, when the doors of the Curb Event Center opened, you could see why Phillips was the guy on stage, singing almost every single night on tour and preparing to travel with John Mayer.
Dozens of screaming fans ran towards the front rows like their lives depended on it. The same fans – along with parents and Belmont students – received Phillips on stage just a couple of hours later.
“I’m pretty nervous,” he admitted, bringing cheers from all over the arena, before he started the show with “Get Up.”
But the nervousness seemed to be far gone by the time Phillips engaged in his “dance mood” with “Gone, Gone, Gone” and “Drive Me.”
“This song has a little bit of a sexy kind of feeling to it. So if you feel sexy tonight, this is for you. And if you’re not feeling sexy tonight, this is for you too,” he joked before covering Usher’s “Nice and Slow” and splicing Coolio’s “Gangasta’s Paradise” pieces in between some sax, guitar and drums solos.
Based on his earlier Twitter activity and stage presence, it was easy to see Phillips was feeling welcome and comfortable for the performance at Belmont.
“It’s nice to be somewhere that feels good. I appreciate y’all keeping it nice, keeping it good,” he said during the concert.
“Tell Me A Story,” one of his favorite songs to perform live, came along with a little bit of a tale.
“This is a quiet song, I really like this song. It’s kind of a lullaby, but in a good way. It’s not a boring lullaby,” he tried to explain. “I don’t know, I start talking and I don’t know what I’m talking about.”
“So yeah, maybe you’ll like it,” he said, bringing laughs from the crowd.
Before wrapping up his set, Phillips put on a mash-up of “Let’s Get It On” by Marvin Gaye and his own record-breaking song “Home,” bringing screams from front-row fans and a chorus of voices around the arena.
A loud crowd relocated all the way to the front for Phillips’ final encore with Lil Wayne’s “Lollipop,” Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” and Phil Collins’ “In The Air Tonight.”
VH1 Artist of the Month and New Zealand singer-songwriter Gin Wigmore took the stage before Phillips performing a 30-minute set including “One Last Look,” “Black Sheep” and “Sweet Hell.”