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Neil Diamond: So good, so good, so good (a great San Diego review)

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Neil Diamond: So good, so good, so good Rock and Roll Hall of Famer brings his self-titled tour to San Diego and shows why, more than 50 years after his first hit, he is still relevant
By Michael James Rocha1 a.m.May 16, 2015
f0ee027069a12729630f6a706700735c_r620x34 In this Sept. 26, 2014 photo, singer-songwriter Neil Diamond poses for a portrait at his former high school, Erasmus Hall High School in the Brooklyn Borough of New York. Diamond, 73, who married for the third time in 2012, says happiness with his new bride fueled his work on “Melody Road,” out Tuesday, Oct. 21. (Photo by Victoria Will/Invision/AP) The Associated Press

Minutes after he stepped onto the stage at Valley View Casino Center on Friday night, Neil Diamond greeted San Diego with a warm “hello” and welcomed everyone watching on Periscope, the live video streaming app purchased by Twitter in March for a reported $100 million.

 

Earlier in the day, @NeilDiamond tweeted: “I'll be streaming my show from San Diego on Periscope tonight. Come par-tay with me! Show starts around 8:15PM PST. Be there or be square.”

 

And since he had no opening act, between the show’s official 8 p.m. start and when it actually began — 8:25 p.m. — concertgoers were urged to tweet using the hashtag #tweetcaroline. Tweets were then shown on two large screens. All night, Twitter was afire with #tweetcaroline, and the Periscope broadcast soon reached its capacity.

 

This, my friends, wasn’t your grandfather’s Neil Diamond concert. It was a multimedia extravaganza. Twitter. Periscope. And his wife and former manager, Katie McNeil, got in on the act, too. She was the one holding the camera for the live-stream.

It was a social media blitzkrieg that, by all accounts, proved to be an innovative way to widen his fan base.

Not that he needed any help Friday.

 

With more than 50 years in the business, Diamond, at 74, showed no signs of slowing down. The 2011 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee kicked off a highly energetic two-hour concert Friday with “I’m a Believer,” a song he composed and was later recorded by The Monkees.

 

It was an apt way to begin an evening of old, new and very new songs, with the latter including “Nothing But a Heartache” and “The Art of Love” from his 32nd studio album, “Melody Road,” released in October 2014.

If you weren’t a believer, he gave you many opportunities to convert.

 

From the overly sentimental “Love on the Rocks” to the critically praised “Play Me,” Diamond proved he hasn’t lost his vocal range. Or his charming ways with the ladies. He hit his marks all night, as a vocalist and as a performer. Except for some brilliant lighting, his show didn’t have that highly produced quality, at least not along the lines of a spectacular visual and aural display that many of today’s concerts seem to possess.

 

But who needs all that when you’ve got that voice? His brilliant back-up singers and band — oh, that horn section! — didn't overpower his voice. Instead, they allowed it to shine.

 

In “Hello Again” (from the soundtrack of the 1980 film “The Jazz Singer”), Diamond exhibited tight control, especially in that last “hello.”

He came through with fan favorites like "Cherry, Cherry" (it was his first hit) and "Forever in Blue Jeans," but sadly missing — it made this critic blue — was "Song Sung Blue."

 

By the 22nd song of the evening — “I Am … I Said” — Diamond had bellowed enough high notes to make sure you were going home a believer. And if, for whatever crazy reason, you still needed some convincing, he opened his encore with the catchy “Cracklin’ Rosie,” a single from his 1970 album “Tap Root Manuscript.”

 

Twenty-three songs into a 27-song set, he still hadn’t sung two of his hits, the always popular “Sweet Caroline” and uber patriotic “America.” But not to worry, the one-two punch was about to come. When he unleashed “Sweet Caroline,” everyone got on their feet and began singing along.

 

So good. So good. So good.

 

“America” came next, replete with a dramatic beginning: Diamond's silhouette set against the red-white-and-blue. Footage of immigrants arriving at Ellis Island played on the big screen as he sang the words to the 1981 single, also from the “The Jazz Singer” soundtrack album.

 

Despite some tinge of ’70s Vegas lounge act — he pointed that forefinger up in the air more than a dozen times — Diamond showed that, after all these years, he’s still got it. He was at the top of his game Friday. Energetic. Funny. Charming.

And damn relevant.

 

He’s willing to mix it up, willing to try new things without abandoning the tried-and-true.

Live-streaming his concert filled with nostalgic hits? It was the ultimate collision of the old and the new. And like his concert Friday, it was a winning combination.

 

Link: http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2015/may/16/neil-diamond-concert-review/

 

 

 

What a cool idea!  I was able to stream the concert last night after downloading the app.  Did anyone else here get to see it?

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What a cool idea!  I was able to stream the concert last night after downloading the app.  Did anyone else here get to see it?

 

 

Melissa,  This is a great review.  I think it's the bet one yet.  Just wonderful - I'm so glad all is going well with him and the Band through this Tour.  Thanks!!!!

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