DAVE RADSTOCK

NEIL DIAMOND "LIVE": A CELEBRATION

THE 2000s

The 2000s...

Neil Diamond had done it, he had come through a most difficult decade, the nineties, virtually unscathed professionally, and so he could look ahead with renewed optimism, free of the insecurities of the past, his status had never waned. In fact, it had improved immensely, particularly as Neil appeared to be the go to guy for movie directors who wanted a piece of music for their film, ‘Pulp Fiction’, ‘Bridges Of Madison County’, a film centred around his work and career, ‘Evil Woman’/’Saving Silverman’, and a fabulous animated movie, ‘Shrek. Neil Diamond’s stock couldn’t be higher. Neil also returned to his initial love... songwriting, and turned out his most original album for over twenty years, ‘Three Chord Opera,’ it was well received, to that end Diamond hit the road to promote the album, but to also continue the love affair he and his fans shared whenever he toured. During the mid-decade he was approached by music producer extraordinaire, Rick Rubin, a man who admitted he had admired Diamond’s work, and wanted to help Neil rediscover the spark that made him the most prolific songwriter in the world. The two albums produced by Diamond and Rubin, ‘12 Songs’, and ‘Home Before Dark’ proved to be two of the finest of his career, where both went platinum, and the latter went to number one on the album charts both sides of the Atlantic. During this period Diamond was invited to appear as the legendary artist at Glastonbury, performing on the iconic pyramid stage. The noughties had proved to be a most fruitful period in Neil Diamond’s career, where the superstar singer continued to tour endlessly, alas, Neil’s “Live” career would come to an end during his highly acclaimed 50th Anniversary World Tour, where he was diagnosed as suffering from Parkinson’s disease, Neil cancelled the rest of the tour, much to the immense disappointment of himself, and his fans in New Zealand and Australia where he was due to finish the tour.

Neil Diamond’s “Live” career needs no embellishment, where he has given his fans some of the most memorable concert experiences by any artist, Neil Diamond can reflect and look back  on the years of continued success with immense joy and satisfaction. For this hugely devoted fan, the ride has been an exhilarating, enjoyable, and a most memorable one.  - Dave Radstock

STAGES: 1970 - 2002

OVERTURE/AMERICA/AMERICA (WALK OFF) - NEIL DIAMOND
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I AM... I SAID - NEIL DIAMOND
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This is the definitive “Live” Neil Diamond collection, spread over six discs.

It catalogues Diamond’s live career from its earliest beginnings right up to the date of issue.

The collection presents 83 of Diamond’s live performances, 82 of which have never been issued, and 42 of which are songs Neil had never issued as live versions.

The item is a wonderful thing to behold, housed in a sturdy gate-fold packaging, it shows an image of Neil Diamond silhouetted against the spotlight, looking out at the audience, the image is surrounded by heavy font lettering stating what is contained in the box. The package opens to reveal

the six discs, complemented by a 52-page booklet, with notes written by

Neil Diamond himself.

Disc 1 and 2 capture Neil Diamond’s full concert from the MGM Grand,

Las Vegas, from 2002, part of his world tour of that year. It is a fine concert, where the audio is clear, and Diamond appears on top form as he delivers

his songs, and shares banter with members of the audience, especially after him serenading a female fan with ‘Girl You’ll Be A Woman Soon’, where after the song he enquires as to whether anyone has a cigarette, likening it to an almost sexual conquest, (tongue firmly in cheek). The concert showcased wonderfully where Diamond was at in his career, relaxed with no need to prove his worth or standing in the music landscape.

There is a beautiful reading of ‘Captain Sunshine’ a song rarely done “Live” but offers Neil the opportunity to pay tribute to long time percussionist

Vince Charles, who had sadly passed away at that time, where Neil speaks lovingly and poignantly about his band member and friend, the song is a fitting tribute to Vince, capturing the sounds of his homeland, steel drums and all, creating a calypso feel to the song. Another highlight of this show  is a fabulous version of ‘Yes, I Will’, and ‘Lady Magdalene’ segued together to present a moving and unforgettable performance, allowing Neil to play piano on stage. I remember attending this tour in Manchester, where this particular song was inspiring, and received a standing ovation.

Disc 3 in the collection is carefully selected songs from Neil’s “Live” career, as the title of the package suggests, ‘Neil Diamond, Performances, 1970-2002’,

and that is exactly what we get, some absolute gems performed live. In my honest opinion, disc 3 is the best disc in the whole collection, the concert notwithstanding, as what we get is a collection of surprising inclusions, ‘Lordy’, ‘Home Is A Wounded Heart’, ‘The Last Picasso’, ‘Lay Lady Lay’,

‘God Only Knows’, and a fabulous version of Elton John’s ‘Rocket Man’ where Neil doesn’t try to replicate the original but arranges it in a way that fits his voice, and it works a treat, it has a haunting quality to it.

Disc 4 continues with carefully selected live cuts from Neil’s later career, mainly concentrating on the 80s and 90s. Disc

 

Disc 5 is wholly dedicated to live renditions of Christmas songs,  these capture Neil Diamond in festive mood, and performing some surprising hymns and Christmas favourites, particularly a fun rendition of ‘Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer’.

Disc 6 is a DVD, capturing highlights of Diamond’s outdoor concert in Dublin, Ireland. It shows Diamond in exhilarating form, regaling the crowd with his famous songs and showmanship. It is a good show, and once again reminds us what an imperious live performer Neil Diamond is, the second half of the DVD takes us behind the scenes and on the road with Neil and the band, it is a fascinating insight into the life of one of music’s defining stars, and shows the effort in putting together a live show, there are band calls, a fitness regime, and team building that occurs in many workplaces. All in all it shows us a collection of extremely talented men and women working together to present a musical spectacular for fans worldwide to enjoy. Neil Diamond comes across as a genuine and sincere man, who cares passionately about his work and colleagues, and pays great attention to the most minute detail in ensuring the show goes as planned. This collection is a must for Neil Diamond fans and music fans alike, and takes us on a journey with a real troubadour of music.

THE BITTER END - 1967 & 2008

THE BITTER END... 1967

Everything has to start somewhere, and so it was for Neil Diamond as he began his journey on the road to achieving music superstardom. In the mid to late sixties, Diamond was a scuffling denizen of the hip music scene in

New York’s Greenwich village, playing gigs at the many coffee houses, and folk venues that were prevalent back then, one such stop was “The Bitter End” originally a coffee shop, it opened its doors in 1961, and soon built a reputation for showcasing young performers like Joni Mitchell, and James Taylor, and comedians like Woody Allen and Billy Crystal. The Bitter End was a small nightclub and it was here that a young Neil Diamond would be given the opportunity to put himself in the public eye.

In 1967, club owner Paul Colby introduced Neil Diamond to the tight crowd that had gathered at the club, Diamond stepped onto the small stage, backed by a sparse band, and performed many of those early Bang Label hits that were his signature sound at that time. Diamond looked a gawky kid, tall, and skinny, his hair slicked back, reminiscent of many of the pop idols of the day. Dressed in all black, and matched with his trademark  cream coloured suede jacket, the young Diamond had an air of mystery about him, which added to his appeal. Diamond didn’t lack confidence, a point made by Ellie Greenwich when she first came across Neil, all he had to do was win over the expectant crowd, and how he did, playing songs which had become familiar staples on turntables and that had marked him out as a songwriter of note.

The set included such smashes as 'Cherry Cherry', 'Solitary Man',

'I’m A Believer', 'The Boat That I Row', 'Shilo', 'A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You', 'Kentucky Woman', 'Thank The Lord For The Night Tme', and the odd cover, 'River Deep Mountain High'.

 It was these kind of shows and venues that kept Diamond in the spotlight as he worked at honing his stagecraft, and his song-writing, Neil would later state that those were halcyon days, almost forgetting the years of struggles, and rejections he had suffered before hitting the big time.

Unbeknown to Neil Diamond back then, “The Bitter End” would play a prominent, albeit affectionate part in the later stages of his career, where he would revisit the club to play an intimate free set to those lucky enough to attend.

THE BITTER END... 2008

On the 7th May 2008, Paul Colby, owner of the “Bitter End” nightclub, once again introduced Neil Diamond onto the stage for a free and intimate gig. Diamond’s performance would be preceded by a meet and greet with fans outside the venue.

The gig was announced at short notice, but hundreds of fans turned up in the hope of being allowed entry to the venue, and to witness Diamond play one of his most intimate shows in recent memory. Speakers were placed in the windows of the club to cater for those who didn’t gain access to the club, where the show was arranged to coincide with the release of Diamond’s new album of that year, 'Home Before Dark'. This was going to be a special evening for the fans, but an even more special evening for

Neil Diamond, as he would make an emotional return to the club for the first time in over forty years.

 

This gig would prove to be a most memorable day for the man on the street, and for other fans who were able to attend this once in a lifetime show.

Neil, as stated was introduced by Paul Colby, Neil strode onto the stage wearing black slacks, shirt, and brown leather jacket, Neil would play guitar throughout, Neil was backed by a sparse band for the engagement comprising of long standing regular band members, Alan Lindgren, Doug Rhone,

Reine Press, and accompanied by Smokey Hormel, and Matt Sweeney, members of Tom Petty’s Heartbreakers band.

The set-list comprised of only seven songs, but both Neil and the crowd were rocking as Neil played fabulous acoustic versions of some of his famous songs, what made it all the more magical was the fact it was put on amid Neil’s world tour of that year, where he would also include a spot at the legendary Glastonbury Festival as part of an already hectic schedule.

PAUL COLBY: 1917 - 2014

  Owner Paul Colby died in 2014, where a   tribute concert was held in his memory.

 The Bitter End was granted landmark status in   July 1992, and is recognised as New York’s oldest   rock club.

   When page is accessed, click on Google Street

  arrow for tour of the interior of The Bitter End

GLASTONBURY     2008

Neil Diamond was a touring phenomenon, his live shows were legendary, his achievements throughout his “Live” career needs no embellishment. He continued to pack them in, right up to his last performance at the O2 Arena in London’s Docklands to finish his European leg of his 50th Anniversary World Tour, before announcing to an unsuspecting world that his touring days were over due to a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease.

It was in the midst of his 2008 World Tour that Neil Diamond was approached by the organisers of the Glastonbury Festival, and was asked if he would appear as the legendary artist on the iconic “Pyramid” stage. Never one to miss an opportunity to spread his music further, Neil agreed, and duly signed on the dotted line.

 

And so it was, June 29, 2008 that Neil Diamond would make his Glastonbury debut. The iconic music event had attracted many of the biggest names in pop and rock history over the years, but they didn’t come much bigger than Neil Diamond.

 

Though at that time the sparkling shirts of yore had long been banished, there was still a smattering of sequins on Diamond’s gold shirt.

Neil Diamond took to the stage, smiling, looking relaxed but no doubt inwardly nervous as he was greeted by the massive crowd. Prior to his spot. Neil was in ebullient weather predicting mood, where he stated, “It’s meant to rain, but it’s not going to”,  seemingly confident that his mere presence, and his ageless voice was enough to dictate weather conditions. And so it proved as the clouds parted and the sun shone as bright as at any time that weekend, prompting Neil to ponder whether he would need some sun cream.

His set started lively with a rousing ‘Cracklin’ Rosie’ where he grabbed the crowd straight away, his voice was in fine fettle being as this spot was included as part of his UK tour. Neil addressed the audience stating that his set list asked that he do some ballads, he cast it aside claiming, “We don’t want to do any ballads, we want to dance. Are you with me?” And the crowd responded with rapturous applause and hoots and hollers.

Neil performed ‘Pretty Amazing Grace’ and the album’s title track ‘Home Before Dark’, two songs which reminded the uninitiated what a peerless songwriter he is.

After the introduction of his new material at that time, the old standards took reign, pop gems like ‘Forever In Blue Jeans’, and ‘I’m A Believer’ had the huge crowd singing and dancing like a drunk uncle at a wedding, but the biggest moment was reserved for ‘Sweet Caroline’. As the first strains of that instantly recognisable intro are heard, it sends waves of unadulterated joy through Glastonbury.

The hits kept coming, ‘Holly Holy’, ‘Beautiful Noise’, ‘Cherry Cherry’,

'Thank The Lord For The Night Time’, et al and the crowd lapped it up.

Neil then turned the clock back to his famous ‘Hot August Night’ concerts, and launched into a beautiful intro leading up to ‘Crunchy Granola Suite’, which led smoothly into ‘Done Too Soon’ from the same shows. However, it was mid-way through ‘Done To Soon’ that the sound “cut out” (at 6:05, view video below). Where lesser artists would have stood in embarrassed silence, scratching their heads and doing nothing, and maybe walking off until order was restored, Neil Diamond showed his total professionalism,

by ceasing singing, but urging his band to keep playing whilst the technical issues were sorted out. Soon enough, order was restored, and Diamond continued effortlessly where he left off, again to rapturous applause.

Neil addressed the crowd again, stating he’d like to do a couple of songs from his #1 album at that time, ‘Home Before Dark’.

 

The cameras pan around the park, thousands of revellers are swaying in unison to its infectious chorus, many, arms locked, and chanting Bah, Bah , Bah, on cue, Neil stops singing and holds the microphone outwardly towards the massive crowd, and they sing on request, Neil Diamond stands, arms outstretched, conducting this huge choir, and then continues with the last chorus, urging the crowd to one final singalong.....”Sweeeet Ca.. Ro.. Line.......and then that familiar fist pump, and outstretched arm salute.

And then it was over... Neil Diamond had triumphed in front of his biggest ever crowd. For their part, they had been royally entertained by one of the world’s greatest “Live” performers.

The year that Jay-Z was touted as the headline act, many were agreed that it was Neil Diamond that was the highlight of the 2008 Glastonbury Festival, bringing his stage presence, glitz, and world famous songs to the event, not to mention his immensely talented backing band.

Yes, summer 2008, good times never seemed so good for Neil Diamond.

SWEET CAROLINE

CRUNCHY GRANOLA SUITE/DONE TOO SOON

HOT AUGUST NIGHT/NYC: MADISON SQUARE GARDEN    2008

The Madison Square Garden shows were billed as a "Hot August Night" and the excited crowd expected something special, particularly as Neil was on his home ground so to speak, and how he delivered in one of his most dynamic performances for many a year.

 

From the moment he stepped out, he looked every inch a rock star, not the man lost in a fog of middle of the road Las Vegas Kitsch, no, Neil Diamond looked in the mood, not just to put on the best show he could, but to put the critics firmly in their place, and show he was a performer of some standing.

 

The choice of opening number was a good one, ‘Holly Holy’ a song usually hanging around the thin end of his show, was presented taking centre stage, with a new and vibrant arrangement, and delivered as a more concise version, opening with its mighty chorus, which allowed it to be heard at its best, after taking the applause Neil launches into ‘Street Life’ to keep the lively vibe going, the sound is fabulous where all the sounds of the New York streets are heard, and give the song an air of danger given the theme of the song, Neil was rolling, and rocking, and addressed his audience and offered a brief tribute to New York before delivering ‘Beautiful Noise’ a perfect choice to sit alongside the previous ‘Street Life’ the mood is slowed down with a fabulous ‘Love On The Rocks’ followed by ‘Play Me’ where Diamond plays to the section directly behind the stage, and enquires as to whether they actually paid for those seats, and states he will have to come back to them again, it is fabulous stuff.

Throughout his career Neil Diamond has strived to present the best shows he possibly could at any particular time, sadly in the middle years of his career he got mired in an almost cabaret version of himself. I have seen

Neil Diamond “Live” many times over, from the first time at the beautiful Woburn Abbey, through the eighties and the 'Jazz Singer' era, and into the 90s and noughties, where it could be said he was living on past glories, and trading on his immense standing in the music industry, don’t get me wrong, Neil Diamond always delivers on stage, but even I, one of the staunchest fans you could meet, believed Neil was looking stale.

 

Then came Rick Rubin, a man who totally changed and re-energised Neil’s view on how he presented his music, there was also a much needed overhaul of his look, from how he appeared personally, to the stage attire he wore, out went the gaudy beaded shirts, in came more tailored attire, still with a smattering of jewels, but not so much that looked gaudy, in came jackets, and trousers that fit with the times, sleek and smart.

 

Neil’s trademark long, overly lacquered and stiff hair was gone, here was a neater and modern style which complemented the new look. Neil Diamond is a handsome fellow, and it was important that he looked his absolute best.

A lively and elongated ‘Cherry Cherry’ gets the crowd on their feet, and we see all the young things up dancing and having a ball. The song allows the band their moment in the spotlight, and each show their mastery and expertise of their instruments and their immense musicianship.

 

It was the turn of his new songs at that time to take over, those Rick Rubin inspired songs, from his #1 album at the time, ‘Home Before Dark’, ‘Don’t Go There’, and ‘Pretty Amazing Grace’ all delivered beautifully and sincerely.

Neil again addresses the audience and speaks about how 35 years before he performed a series of shows which became known as ‘Hot August Night’ and how one particular night was recorded and made as a “Live” album and that he was about to revisit those special nights, and how he did, the first song in the sequence ‘Crunchy Granola Suite’ is as good a performance as you will see, not just from Neil, but his band, and backing singers, they are all smoking hot, and then the audience, there is barely anyone who isn’t on their feet, young men dancing in the aisles, young girls shaking their “booty” and all. One thing is evident, Neil Diamond is at his dynamic best, on top form and giving his all.

The ovation is well deserved, but with no time to rest, the riff for

‘Done To Soon’ begins, another classic song and master performance.

The following two songs epitomise Neil Diamond the songwriter, ‘Brooklyn Roads’ and ‘I Am... I Said’, both autobiographical accounts of his life growing up in New York, and his life beyond, having found fame.

A wonderful version of 'Solitary Man’ follows and then another one of his early hits ‘Kentucky Woman’ which opens the door for ’Forever In Blue Jeans’ and ‘Sweet Caroline’ where the roof lifts off, in a swirl of dancing, and singing along, great stuff, and Neil takes the applause.

The pace is slowed with a sincere ‘You Don’t bring Me Flowers’ performed with long time backing singer, Linda Press, who he invites to stay upfront and perform 'Song Sung Blue’ and is followed by the hit he wrote and gave to the 'Monkees', ‘I’m A Believer’ which again has everyone on their feet, two songs from his hit album '12 Songs' follow, ‘Man Of God’ and for me one of the best songs Neil Diamond has written in many a year, ‘Hell Yeah’ it is haunting, beautiful, prophetic, and honest, a song of a man looking beyond the years of fame and adulation, a man pondering is longer term future, and even his demise, and for that it is heartbreakingly poignant, you could hear a pin drop, and the ovation was justified.

The show winds up with ‘Cracklin’ Rosie’ and a fervent 'Brother Love’s Travelling Salvation Show’, complete with raised platform.

The original 'Hot August Night' never made it to video, or was recorded for posterity, so we are told, but this show rolls back the years.

Neil Diamond had triumphed with an exhilarating and enthralling performance of dynamism and energy, and a performance which finally shook off the shackles of yesteryear, and laid to rest the opinion that Neil Diamond was a busted flush. Neil Diamond dug deep into his being and delivered a show of passion, sincerity, and style, where he proved he could rock with the best of them, because when all said and done, Neil Diamond is the best.

THE GREEK THEATRE - HOT AUGUST NIGHT lll     2012

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Happy Birthday Mom!

I read a supposed review of this latest release by Neil Diamond, it was written by someone who obviously has an immense dislike of Mr Diamond. It wasn’t so much a review of what was on offer, but a malicious attack on Neil Diamond, his work and his career. Thankfully, millions of fans around the world know differently, which is reason why Neil Diamond is regarded as one of the finest entertainers ever.

My aim is to offer an honest review of what Neil Diamond has presented.

I purchased my copy of this CD/DVD release two weeks ago. I was eager to open the packaging to see what was contained within, so I took myself off to a coffee house of choice, placed my order, a nice soothing Cappuccino, and found a seat where I could peruse my purchase in comfort and at leisure.

What we have is a double gatefold package containing three discs, two CDs and the DVD of the concert. It opens to reveal two wonderful high definition images of Neil from the concert, which instantly heightens the anticipation of wanting to watch the concert.

The initial tribal pounding of the intro to ‘Soolaimon’ set the scene perfectly, and lifted the sense of excitement, flashing lights, smoke, and a clap of thunder, and then he was there, silhouetted against the backdrop of the stage and lights,

Neil Diamond, stood rigid in that familiar pose of outstretched arm, with his guitar hanging nonchalantly around him. After a brief moment, he strode forward, the crowd exploding, as they welcomed their hero, straight away Neil joined in with the intro, strumming his guitar with gusto, and then...”Lord of my want, God of my need, leading me on…”. Neil’s voice is strong as he roars out the chorus, following the fabulous intro.

The show continues at pace, ‘Beautiful Noise’, ‘Forever In Blue Jeans’, ‘Love On The Rocks’... Diamond is on exhilarating form, looking resplendent in black silk shirt with azure blue, glistening appliqué, and matched with neat slim fitting trousers. He prowls the stage in that familiar way, albeit a little slower than in days of yore. The crowd show their appreciation with prolonged applause. The concert is a two and a half hour, thirty-six song celebration of Neil’s career to date, and an exercise in ultimate showmanship. Neil Diamond’s stamina is something to behold. There is also a touching birthday tribute to his mother, Rose, (A lady who has just celebrated her 100th birthday on September 2, 2018).

 

There is also a glossy pull out booklet with liner notes from ‘Rolling Stone’ magazine, which detail the concert wonderfully, where they initially speak about the original ‘Hot August Night’ of 1972. There are plenty of stills from this 2012 show, highlighting what the attendees experienced, and a glimpse of what’s in store for the viewer, having read the booklet, credits and all. I put it away safely in my zipped holdall, I couldn’t wait for the evening to watch this wonderful show.

 

Sure enough the evening came around, I notified my partner that our viewing for the evening was to be Neil Diamond in concert, so we settled down, bottle of wine at the ready, and sat back to enjoy the show.

GLORY ROAD/CHELSEA MORNING - NEIL DIAMOND
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The whole show is utterly superb, his fabulous band proving once again that they are possibly the finest backing band of any artiste. Neil also has a full orchestra to compliment the band and the whole experience, towards the end, Diamond delivers a most passionate ‘America’ after paying tribute to his grandmother for her desire and perseverance to find the American dream.

In 1966, Neil Diamond began his journey in the music industry, forty six years later, Diamond takes his adoring fans on a nostalgic trip of his life in music on this triumphant return to this iconic venue.

The Greek Theatre has proved to be a most special arena for Neil, those series of concerts at the venue in 1972 catapulted him into the music stratosphere, where he has held onto those special nights, often recreating them throughout his career.

Neil Diamond is about much more than ‘Hot August Night’, the songs on offer here highlight his immense abilities as a songwriter, his stylism, and his sincerity, not to mention his abilities as a performer. This show is a must for fans and music lovers alike, contrary to one particular critic’s view, this is the music of Americana, the soundtrack to our lives, and a journey with one of music’s most enduring stars.

ERASMUS HALL - BROOKLYN, NEW YORK    2014

Erasmus High School is an impressive building, dating back to 1786, and standing majestically at 899-925 Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn, New York, of Georgian style, the entrance sits below the impressive and imposing tower.

Neil was in a clearly sentimental mood, telling stories of the “old days” and busting his arena sized moves in the room where he used to get sent for detention, no doubt the memories were flooding back for Neil, as the opening chords of ‘Brooklyn Roads’ began, which took on extra poignancy given that Diamond had never played on his native Brooklyn soil before this show.

NEIL DIAMOND GOES BACK TO SCHOOL....

On Monday 29th September  2014, Neil Diamond stood nervously in the great hall of Erasmus High School. Looking around, observing, and taking in his environment, one could be forgiven in thinking he had a date with an irate Principle given his noticeable anxiety, after all, this was the very school that Diamond attended as a callow youth. Full of the dreams and aspirations that exuberant youngsters tend to have, but this visit wasn’t anything to do with some misdemeanour Diamond might have been guilty of, like playing “Hookey” or being caught smoking in the lavatories, no, this return was about giving something back, his hometown, the place where all his dreams began.

And so it was, after more than fifty years in the business, and over 130million albums sold, and a catalogue of hits that have been heard everywhere from bars, to weddings, to ball parks, Neil Diamond decided it was about time that he performed a concert in his native Brooklyn, but rather than play at one of the borough’s excellent venues, he decided to make it a true homecoming, and play the chapel of his high school, Erasmus Hall, which boasted Barbra Streisand, and Clive Davis as two of its notable alumini.

Neil, looking dapper in a dark suit, and his new silver-fox beard, gave the attendant crowd a mega energy ten song show for those lucky enough to be inside, most of whom had waited in line all day in the hope of getting in. The fabulous stained glass windows behind Neil gave it an appearance of his own personal shrine.

Diamond has always celebrated his Flatbush roots, where during a previous visit  he could be spotted walking the streets by day, and riding the subway incognito, just a solitary man and his memories, whilst performing at New York’s Madison Square Garden Arena a few years before, he stated he was from Brooklyn before it was hip. He told the crowd that "It was in this Chapel I decided to take piano lessons, I also sang in the chorus for two years, why? Because I thought it was a good place to meet girls.”

As always with a Neil Diamond show, the crowd were in a lively mood, it was an enthusiastic mix of Erasmus Hall students, and silver-haired Neil Diamond fanatics. Before the show began the fans were up dancing to the pre-show loop of Neil Diamond hits, how wonderful to dance to those hits just before the man himself came out to sing them.

Neil’s voice was in sturdy shape, backed by a stripped down version of his arena band, he went heavy on the classics, ‘Solitary Man’, and ‘Love On The Rocks’. Diamond debuted a couple of choice cuts from his newest album ‘Melody Road’, these were,’Nothing But A Heartache’ and  ‘Something Blue’.

“I love doing the songs you that know,” he told the crowd, “but you know what else, I really love doing songs you've never heard before, because those are the songs I get to sing all by myself”, (you have to admit, that’s a brilliant way to break the delicate news you’re trying out unfamiliar material) ‘Nothing But A Heartache’ is a bitter and angst ridden tale of rejection, and redemption, whilst ‘Something Blue’ is a much lighter and happier song. When the fans are clapping on the beat by the second chorus, you know your new tune is officially a success.

 

Neil ended it all with an epic ‘Sweet Caroline’ repeating chorus after chorus, at one point Neil accused some members of the audience of not singing, “You can’t be students or “Brooklynites” he said, “Are you from Staten Island? Sorry, there’s the exit.”

The show was over, but still there were some touching moments ahead as fans began to notice the Streisand yearbook photo on the wall, crowding round and taking selfies with it, seeing all these people getting out their phones to get a shot of Barbra’s high school smile seemed to connect about six generations of Brooklyn rockiness. It was a moment that only the love of Neil Diamond could make happen.

SETLIST:

I’m A Believer                        Solitary Man                          Kentucky Woman                Brooklyn Roads                    Love On The Rocks                Forever In Blue Jeans          Cracklin’ Rosie                      Nothing But A Heartache    Something Blue                    Sweet Caroline

Thanks and appreciation to Dave Radstock for his invaluable and infromative contributions