HOT AUGUST NIGHT 1972
WE WERE THERE!!
TOM BOWYER – HOT AUGUST NIGHT 1972
August 1972, I attended one of the ten concerts that Neil Diamond did at the Greek Theatre in
Los Angeles that year, now universally known as Hot August Night. It was a combination of sheer class, soul and raw energy and one that I will never forget!
As we first sat down, I remember sitting there listening to the sounds of violins followed by an orchestral accompaniment and watching the people file in search of their seats. The stage doors were closed at the time, so there wasn't anything else to see. As the audience eventually settled in, the music built to a crescendo and 'Prologue' reached it's suspended climax! The acoustic guitar, keyboard and drums kicked in as the stage doors slowly opened and red smoke streamed out. As the smoke cleared, the orchestra and band became visible and Neil Diamond, coolly strolled on stage, strapped on his guitar,¹ and began playing it in a fencing motion! ²
The version of 'Brother Love’s Travelling Salvation Show' that Neil Diamond did that night was explosive! When he got to the part where he says "Brothers and Sisters", bright lights were directed in the direction of the audience, thereby causing Neil appear as a silhouette. He looked and sounded like a long-haired preacher delivering his sermon to his congregation! It was powerful and the best rendition of that song that I've seen him do in the eight Neil Diamond concerts that I've attended!
Every song he performed that night was delivered with soul and passion and proved that he was not only a great singer/songwriter, but also a dynamic performer! ³
I looked forward to seeing that show the following year, but unfortunately, Neil Diamond decided to take a sabbatical lasting 4 years. Something unheard of, and at the height of his career!
When he resumed touring in 1976, he didn't appear at the Greek until September of that year! The tickets sold out quickly, so a friend of mine and I went and saw it as 'Tree People'! We had to climb a steep hill until we reached a chain-link fence, with two football line-backer-looking security guards on the other side! They said we couldn't get in, but when the introduction music started, they ran down and tried to keep other people from entering, we then decided to chance it and proceeded to crawl under the fence and actually had a very good view of the concert! That was one of Neil’s ‘Love At The Greek' shows. On this occasion, however, video cameras were on hand to record the proceedings.
¹ “Neil came through a cloud of smoke and the audience just exploded.” – Lee Holdridge (Conductor – Hot August Night)
² Neil Diamond attended Abraham Lincoln High School, the school from which he received his high school diploma; he was a member of the fencing team. He later attended New York University on a fencing scholarship, specialising in sabre, and was a member of the 1960 NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) men's championship team; into his adult life he maintained his swordsmanship skills and continued to warm up with fencing exercises before his concerts. Dance Of The Sabres -https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TJR6Z5ytUaE
³ "Electric ... his audience falls like plums at his feet." - Tone - Daily Variety
NB: After the song 'Done Too Soon', Neil told the audience that he didn't want to be looking at flash bulbs all night while he was performing,
so he invited the people that wanted to take pictures to the front of the stage with their cameras, while he stood with his guitar!
They quickly took their pictures and were sent back to their seats. They edited-out that part on the album as it was just dead time!
He then delivered... - TOM BOWYER
BONNIE SCHULTZ - HOT AUGUST NIGHT 1972
I was in the audience the night this album, Hot August Night, was recorded. And, yes, I do believe it was the greatest live performance I've ever seen.
Neil had, if I remember correctly, a 30-piece orchestra with conductor and composer Lee Holdridge behind him. The strings were magical and it was the most entertaining concert I have ever been to. I went to see him 3 times that week and, to this day, I can't forget how fantastic he sounded.
PAUL MORRIS - HOT AUGUST NIGHT 1972
I've lived all over the USA. Attended more concerts than I can remember, but that night in 1972, at the Greek makes all the others pale in comparison. If you listen closely, you might hear my shouts and applause on the record. Sorry, I couldn't help that. I clearly remember the shouts and cheers of the "Tree People" on that night. Neil Diamond thanked them and said he was "singin' for you, too." The Greek is surrounded in the rear by tall pines. People climbed them to see and hear the concert for free. Nobody cared. We were all caught up in the euphoria. I sat center stage left, just behind the orchestra seats. What a night. Seared into my memory.