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Melissa B

Diamond geezer: showman Neil Diamond dazzles the NEC's Genting Arena

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Veteran star has a loyal audience of fans in the palms of his hands

BORN in Brooklyn 74 years ago, the now bearded Neil Diamond is still shining as brightly as any gemstone that has ever been cut from the hardest natural material known to man.

 

Brilliantly staged by Live Nation, this was as good as veteran showman gigs get complete with crystal clear sound, a stage that was ever-changing but unfussy and a band that the main man himself described as "the best in the land."

 

Well, all 12 of them did make it seem as if he was floating on air.

 

Playing with the skill and rhythm of the Buena Vista Social Club, the six main members (including drums and percussion) were complemented by two sisters on vocals and a four-man brass section.

 

All were given mini solos that were playful and inventively thrilling, not jaded and self-indulgent like so many.

 

While Diamond says he’s never had a dance lesson in his life, the legs that were thin in his youth are still helping him to glide around the stage with the kind of deceptive ease which Roger Federer sports on a tennis court.

 

Family scenes captured by his father on a no-battery, wind-up movie camera of a young Neil and his brother playing and rolling around as kids were played mid-concert, acting as a reminder of how children have no idea where they are going in life but can eventually find their own way if they have talent.

 

By the end of a show which ran to some two hours and 15 minutes without a break, I counted 28 songs.

 

Diamond never missed a word and the band didn’t skip a beat – all brilliantly captured by a sound engineer who has apparently been with the main man for 47 years.

 

A singer, guitarist and showman, Diamond is also a great raconteur.

 

When he told the audience he loved Birmingham and ‘this building’, the fans believed every word.

 

His own home town of Brooklyn, he said, was a safe place to have grown up, playing out and living a simple life as the third generation son of Polish and Russian migrants.

 

Diamond's songs speak volumes about his journey through life and his heartbreaks, but above all they give people of all ages in the audience a sense of joy.

 

Out in the middle of the main floor, I saw a 65-year-old man jumping up and down; behind me, an 11-year-old boy knew every word that his dad was singing.

 

Most artists would need songs like I’m a Believer and Love on the Rocks to close a show, not to open it.

 

But from there on in, Barbra Streisand's former classmate cut one classic after another... picking up a guitar with his name written down the fret for the first time with fifth song Kentucky Woman, once covered by Deep Purple.

 

Red Red Wine included a mini rap section, though no mention of UB40 who made it sound like their own.

 

The middle of the set included three songs from Diamond's latest album Melody Road.

 

Nothing But A Heartache was introduced as a cathartic experience which would make him feel better by the end – it did – and all were good enough to prevent any sign of a lull to proceedings.

 

The Art Of Love, he said, had taken him five years to write, but “the good news is that it only lasts three minutes.”

 

Other songs included his own breakthrough hit, Solitary Man, plus Beautiful Noise, Holly Holy, Cracklin’ Rosie, Song Sung Blue, Cherry, Cherry and, of course, Sweet Caroline given extended life with a fake ending and reprise.

 

But still the show didn’t even end there, with Coming To America and Hallelujah among those adding more emotional depth before he disappeared through a door in the back stage 'diamond' as if he was leaving his own exclusive version of Stars in Their Eyes.

 

Link: http://www.birminghammail.co.uk/whats-on/music-nightlife-news/neil-diamond-review-nec-genting-9638077

 

 

 

 

Nice article.  Neil does know how to please.  I think the writer meant to say Neil did "Brother Love's Travelin Salvation Show" which did have a lot of hallelujahs in it.  ;)

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Nice article.  Neil does know how to please.  I think the writer meant to say Neil did "Brother Love's Travelin Salvation Show" which did have a lot of hallelujahs in it.  ;)

 

 

Melissa,  Wonderful article!  Our guy's doing just great and I'm so happy for him and the Band!!  Thanks!!!

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