DAVE RADSTOCK

NEIL DIAMOND "LIVE": A CELEBRATION

THE 1970s

The 1970s...

Unbeknown to most people, Neil Diamond didn’t just spring up from a Jack-in-a box in 1970 with Cracklin’ Rosie, he had been involved in creating music as far back as 1958, where he was part of an Everley brother-esque duo, Neil & Jack, with high school friend Jack Packer, they had moderate success, but the young Neil Diamond had greater aspirations. Throughout the early part of the sixties Neil spent his time honing his craft as a songwriter, where later he would be employed in the famed Brill Buildings, Tin Pan Alley. Alas, he was fired from most publishers, it was only after renting a room, and writing for himself that the hits began to flow, and then of course the inevitable personal appearances, where he would perform his earliest hits, these shows were not huge affairs, usually coffee houses, station wagons etc.. the occasional TV appearance, anything to get exposure. It wasn’t until the late sixties and beginning of the seventies when Neil Diamond had garnered enough recognition, would he play the larger venues, where he was soon to explode into the music stratosphere, beyond his wildest expectations, and create the phenomenon of one of the most legendary “Live” performers of all time.  - Dave Radstock

LIVE AT THE TROUBADOUR    1970

History is messy, the winds of cultural change seldom align with our calendars. The things we think of as quintessentially 1960’s for example, like teenyboppers, nuclear testing, etc... properly date to the 1950s, the same holds true for the 1970s, a decade which began in the midst of a sort of cultural bridge, a short period starting in the months after the summer of love, and lasting to about 1973, and the early days of disco.

Neil Diamond wholly encapsulates that period. His commercial image so accurately marks this rapid-fire change in popular culture. In 1966 he was a pompadoured kid, singing Country-Rock, pop tunes; by 1970 he was a moody, long-haired troubadour, wearing flower power shirts, not long after, he was sporting feathered disco hair, and singing wrought, and angst ridden,

self-analytical anthems, whilst donning spangly jumpsuits.

By the time 1970 came around, Neil Diamond was assured, or at least assured enough of his increasing popularity, not to mention his ever growing catalogue of self-penned songs, to be able to bring himself to the masses.

He was now being regarded as the most commercial and viable singer/songwriter around at the time. His swarthy good looks were a surefire winner for the girls who would attend his shows, not forgetting his deep seductive vocals, which had them swooning.

And so it was, the long haired, singer-songwriter, Neil Diamond, stood on the Troubadour stage, picking a moody scale on his guitar, and singing an expressive and introspective lyric,.The crowd applaud as they recognise the opening chords of the selected song, the audience includes the press, and record label representatives, observing the performer and performance with eagle-eyed attention, whilst tuning in to his dusky voice, it is a classic Troubadour tableau, typical of the early seventies, when the Troubadour was arguably the most famous nightclub in the world.

Neil Diamond, after performing the opening number ‘Lordy’ (The only known recording of this song) and ‘Both Sides Now’, addresses the audience -

“Wow! It’s really jammed in here tonight, I really feel sorry for you, you know, and being put together, feels great from up here, I’ve got to tell you. This show is being recorded, by the way, I don’t know if you saw when you came in, there was a err, a sound-truck out there, and its being recorded for our armed forces overseas in Canada.”

This brief dialogue gives the impression that the show was for a radio broadcast, Neil’s band is minimal, but totally in tune with the singer, where their playing gives the songs a lively vibe for the raucous set. This is the raw, power-packed Diamond with none of the bombast that would invade his shows later in his career.

Neil delivers a lively and hit-laden show, whilst giving a nod to fellow songwriter Joni Mitchell with a fabulous cover of her hit ‘Both Sides Now’.

As stated, the show was being recorded, and as such an album followed not long after, entitled “GOLD” the album contained ten songs, a rather sparse number for a “Live” album, but the album is a significant reference point in Neil Diamond’s development as a performer of immeasurable standing.

What the appearance at the Troubadour did for Neil Diamond, was to allow him to hone his performance and stagecraft even further, he had greater ambitions for himself, aspirations which would come to fruition a mere two years later, with those legendary shows at L.A.’s Greek Theatre.

It was inevitable that Neil Diamond would appear at Doug Weston’s Troubadour, especially as it became the place to play for many of the big stars of the day, James Taylor, Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Joan Baez, even comedian Steve Martin performed there. The Singer-Songwriter movement of the late sixties, and early seventies was brought into sharper focus due to the Troubadour’s involvement in the L.A. music scene, which helped launch the careers of so many major American Singer-Songwriting talents of the era.

The Greenwich village folk heyday had run its course, and songwriters like Diamond left the “Tin Pan Alley” world of New York’s Brill Building, and headed to California, where the newest music scene was taking root on fertile ground.

The venue wasn’t a big arena, it was a nightclub, its setting intimate and tight, where the audience were up close to the performer.

SETLIST:

Lordy                                                                                      Both Sides Now                                                                     Solitary Man                                                                        Holly Holy                                                                               Cherry Cherry                                                                       Kentucky Woman                                                                  Sweet Caroline                                                                       Thank The Lord For The Night Time                                  And The Singer Sings His Song                                            Brother Love’s Travelling Salvation Show

PERSONNEL: Neil Diamond, (Vocals, Guitar) Carol Hunter (Guitar), Eddie Rubin (Drums), Randy Sterling (Bass Guitar), Jesse Smith, Venetta Fields, Edna Hunter (Backing Vocals) 

LIVE ON THE BBC    1971

This show was broadcast by the BBC as part of their “In Concert” series, where many top artistes of the day were featured. This particular show was from 1971 and showed a young Neil Diamond on the cusp of music super-stardom, and could be regarded as a warm up to his upcoming Greek Theatre dates at that time.

The concert is a rather intimate setting for Neil, staged in a BBC studio with a relatively small audience, some seated right at the stage edge. Neil looks relaxed and fit, wearing a deep red velvet shirt, matched with black, slim fitting bell bottomed slacks which were the fashion back then.

There doesn’t appear to be a band with Neil, but if you watch closely you catch an outline of one or two members located in a pit below stage level, Neil has his guitar throughout the performance.

What is evident is that Neil comes across as very shy, and yet he exudes an assuredness in his performance, but also in his manner as he easily engages with the audience.

The viewer gets a measure of who Neil Diamond is, and even though this performance was very early in his career, one gets the sense that we are watching an immense talent. I have often spoken of the aura that surrounds Neil Diamond, and it is most evident here.

The songs are sung wonderfully, with small interludes as Neil describes a particular song, what was the motivation, or just a piece of information to introduce the song. This version of Neil Diamond was the pure unadulterated version, the innocent songsmith, who sang purely from the heart, and a man who wrote songs far above any songwriter at that time.

This show was a good year before the famed ‘Hot August Night’ series of concerts of 1972, and perhaps it could be said, it was the beginning of the metamorphosis from the shy, quiet loner, and into the music megastar that he became.

It seems such a shame that the machinations of the industry changed Neil Diamond, particularly after the 'Jazz Singer' movie, where Diamond’s shows seemed to acquire a level of bombast, of course, he was always the ultimate showman, and his show was always classy, but it appeared Neil was pandering to the wants of the industry rather than maintaining the hard fought, and cultivated style that made him unique.

This intimate concert is a great reference point to when Neil Diamond was about to explode into the music stratosphere, but also a stark reminder of that immense natural talent that Neil Diamond possessed in abundance, and made him stand out amongst his peers.

The setlist was sparse in order to accommodate a forty-five minute show, but the songs included were some of Diamond’s best from that time in his career, songs which still hold up today as not solely pop standards but as gems in the art of songwriting -

SET LIST:

Sweet Caroline                                                                                   

Solitary Man                                                                                        

Cracklin’ Rosie                                                                                     

Done Too Soon                                                                                       

A Modern Day Version Of Love                                                                

He Ain’t Heavy, (He’s My Brother)                                                            

Holly Holy                                                                                                

I Am... I Said                                                                                           

Brother Love’s Travelling Salvation Show               

THE GREEK THEATRE - HOT AUGUST NIGHT    1972

"Hot August Night was the big turning point. That magnetism that people think of with Neil Diamond was born on that night.

He knocked them dead. Neil came through a cloud of smoke and the audience just exploded. It was the first time I saw him confident

on stage ..... That was chemistry." - Lee Holdridge, Composer & Conductor

"Electric ... his audience falls like plums at his feet." - Tone - Daily Variety
 
"More of a triumph, in every measurable way, than his stunning show last summer at the Greek .... Most of all, Diamond gave of himself." - Robert Hilburn -

Los Angeles Times

" ... he moved the audience through many moods from joy to sorrow." - Sue Cameron - The Hollywood Reporter

"The lean, sensual performer was A TRIUMPH." - Michael Carmack - Los Angeles Herald-Examiner

"I enjoyed the outstanding theatrical experience of my life, due to the unsurpassed and almost hypnotic talents of Neil Diamond."  - James A Doolittle - General Director, Greek Theatre Association

PROLUGUE/CHUNCHY GRANOLA SUITE - NEIL DIAMOND
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Whilst we are celebrating Neil Diamond’s immensely successful “Live” career, it would be hugely remiss not to include this particular concert, which, when all said and done, was the catalyst for the Neil Diamond phenomenon.

Much has been said about this series of concerts that Neil Diamond performed at the Los Angeles Greek Theatre in 1972, that one could be forgiven in thinking we have heard it all before, after all, Neil Diamond had performed at this famous venue the previous summer, 1971, where he received much acclaim, so what was it that made these particular concerts so special, or at least the night of Thursday August 24th that was captured on record for posterity, and for all time. I think the answer lies with Neil Diamond himself.

The show became known as ‘A Hot August Night’. It was certainly a hot August night in more ways than one, those gathered were in for a treat, Neil Diamond’s growl of a voice, deep with sincerity, feeling, and emotion was about to be unleashed on them. The new Neil Diamond, one of the most dynamic, and power packed singers and performers of the era had arrived, there may never be a night quite like this again, as Diamond himself succinctly put it...

“This is going to be special, I promised that before I came back to this theatre, we would do things for you that you will not forget for a while, and that’s what we’re about tonight.”

All the songs were given a new treatment, ‘Solitary Man, ‘Sweet Caroline’,

‘Walk On Water’, ‘Soolaiman’, ‘I Am... I Said’, when Diamond introduced

‘I Am... I Said’ with the words...

                   

“I need, I want, I care, I weep, I ache, I am... I said, I am...”

You could have heard a pin drop, the sense of intimacy was immense. The ‘Walk Off’  was out of this world, where Dennis St John was brilliant on drums.

Being the ever insecure person he is known as being, Diamond refused requests for television cameras to be present for fear of the concert being a flop, he needn’t have worried, as the audience appeared to be in a trance as they were entertained by the hypnotic talents of the “Solitary Man” on stage.

Another aspect which made this show so special was the special relationship he had with his band, it is evident that there exists an almost family like rapport between them, where they have a great love and respect for each other, and equally the band seem attuned to Neil’s mood, his wishes and moves, they are slick, and tight, and masters of their craft.

I mentioned earlier that the reason these shows were so celebrated could be found with Neil Diamond himself, and it is true, Neil Diamond wanted these shows to be like no other that had appeared at the venue, he wanted to eclipse his own acclaimed shows from the previous summer, and so set about working on how he could achieve the best possible sound, and to that end, he had a quadraphonic sound system installed at the theatre, something never heard of at the time. He also hired an orchestra to give a more sweeping arrangement to his songs, and give the air of not just a rock concert, but a musical event, the concerts as we now know are regarded as the finest live shows by any artist or band ever to appear at the Greek Theatre to this day.

The audience didn’t know what to expect. As the ‘Prologue’ began, they were left wondering if they had come to the right venue, they had come to a rock concert, but instead were being treated to classical music by a 30-piece orchestra.

When the music rose to its crescendo, and Neil Diamond exploded on stage, he looked every bit a Greek God. As the spotlight bathed the solitary figure in its glow, Diamond sang his songs like never before, to the total amazement of the fans, the songs they knew so well, were being completely metamorphosed before them, where Neil gave them a whole new life and aura.

The attendees were the chosen ones, chosen to witness a butterfly emerge from commonality, history was being made before their very eyes.....

and ears.

From that moment, he held the audience in the palm of his hand, he was slaying them, albeit in the nicest possible way, Diamond had connected with them, and they loved every minute of it.

Then there were the “Tree People” there were a great many people who didn’t have tickets, or couldn’t get in, so they sat in the surrounding mountain sides among the trees, equipped with bottles of wine, and had a pleasurable evening.  Not only did they watch the concert for free, they were witnessing an immense musical talent explode into the stratosphere.

Neil Diamond had triumphed in a way even he wouldn’t have expected, or even imagined, those who attended remember the event as a master-class on how to present a musical performance. His parents, Rose and Kieve who attended the shows were immensely proud of their son, bursting with pride after witnessing his brilliant performance, and I would imagine that Neil Diamond’s reluctance to allow television cameras in could be viewed as not one of his best calls, but hindsight is a wonderful thing, and I’m sure Neil regrets not having the shows filmed.

Neil Diamond gave of himself that night, everything he could give, every emotion, from joy to sorrow, happiness to sadness, moving the audience on a tidal wave of emotions, an exhausting and exhilarating performance, which left Diamond and the audience breathless.

Neil Diamond gave of himself that night, everything he could give, every emotion, from joy to sorrow, happiness to sadness, moving the audience on a tidal wave of emotions, an exhausting and exhilarating performance, which left Diamond and the audience breathless.

 

And so it was... the show was over, a stillness hung over the Greek Theatre, the critics and reviewers, not to mention his fans would hail Neil Diamond as the greatest star on the planet, his dynamic and hypnotic performance would create the whole Neil Diamond phenomenon which would last throughout his “Live” career.

“I need, I want, I care, I weep, I ache, I am... I said, I am...”

SET LIST:

Prologue                                                                                                            Crunchy Granola Suite                                                                                   

Done Too soon                                                                                               

Dialogue

Solitary Man                                                                                                        Cherry Cherry                                                                                                     

Sweet Caroline                                                                                           

Porcupine Pie                                                                                                     

You’re So Sweet                                                                                                 

Red Red Wine                                                                                                   

Soggy Pretzels                                                                                                  

Gitchy Goomy                                                                                                   

And the Grass Won’t Pay No Mind                                                                      

I Think It’s Going To Rain Today                                                                             Shilo                                                                                                                         

A Modern Day Version Of Love                                                                           

Girl, You’ll Be A woman Soon                                                                               Walk On Water                                                                                                       Kentucky Woman                                                                                             Stones                                                                                                            

Musician Intros                                                                                               

Play Me                                                                                                                      

Canta Libre                                                                                                        Morningside                                                                                                         

Song Sung Blue                                                                                                      Cracklin’ Rosie                                                                                                     

Holly Holy                                                                                                             

I Am... I Said                                                                                                           Soolaimon / Brother Love’s Travelling Salvation Show

                                                                                                 

Personnel: 

Neil Diamond (Vocals and Guitar), Richard Bennett (Guitar)          

Danny Nicholson (Guitar), Emory Gordy Jr (Guitar and Vibrophone),                Alan Lindgren (Keyboards), Reine Press (Bass), Dennis St John (Drums)          Jefferson Kewley (Percussion)

Conductor: Lee Holdridge

Tom Reminisces 

Click on each image to enlarge

Footnote: The ‘Hot August Night’ live double album, the first of its kind to recapture and faithfully reproduce the amazing live performance on vinyl, was an immense sell out. At Diamond’s insistence, there was no adjusting of the quality of the sound equipment used at the concert, he wanted the album to be as faithful as possible, and to recreate all the excitement and atmosphere, with no pauses between songs, to give the listener the impression they were there too, he wanted everything, applause, and even the “Tree People”. 

The album was a roaring success, where in Australia it remained #1 record for 29 weeks... An all time record.

Webmaster: My thanks to Tom Bowyer, who recently enlightened me to the fact that Neil Diamond wore a white suite (above) on the night that he (Tom) attended the one of ten

Hot August Night concerts in August 1972.

THANK YOU AUSTRALIA     1976

After a four year sabbatical from touring, Neil Diamond returned to the stage in 1976 with a series of concerts in Australia and New Zealand, this particular show was the culmination of that tour and a thank you to the fans who had turned up to support the tour.

The show was a free concert on a first come first served basis to be held at the 38,000 capacity Sydney Sports Ground, and was also broadcast live on Australia’s Channel 9 Network, to the largest viewer audience in Australian history.

The show was regarded as the biggest concert event of its time, and on March 9th, 1976 Neil Diamond’s explosive performance electrified and mesmerised an entire nation for one amazing night with nearly three hours of phenomenal showmanship and entertainment.

Whilst this wasn’t exactly a 'Hot August Night', there was an almost revival like electricity in the sold out crowd, particularly as Neil and his band were housed in a large “Big Top” tent like structure, called the “Mobius”.

The aforementioned album 'Hot August Night' was the biggest selling album in Australia, where it was still in the top ten album chart four years after its release, right up to the start of this tour, being a Neil Diamond’s first visit to the region.

Neil’s Australian audience had been waiting, Neil later commented, “I had never been down there to perform, and they had been so great that I just felt it was the natural place to start it off. And as it worked out, it was one of the most extraordinary experiences that I have ever had. I couldn’t even begin to describe what it was like. It was beyond pandemonium, it was beyond anything, it was insanity after a while, and it was beautiful."

 

Neil Diamond bounded onto the stage, arms outstretched as though embracing the audience, wearing a pale yellow/ivory embroidered shirt, complimented with jewelled belt and brown leather pants, he looked far removed from his 'Hot August Night' shows, his hair neatly styled and teased, and not the loose tousled rock style he modelled on his famed Greek Theatre shows, four years earlier.

The music was sumptuous, and it could be said this was a return to his former concert successes, all the expected songs were there, extracts from ‘Tap Root Manuscript’, where the show opened with the heavenly ‘Missa’ which led into a rousing ‘Soolaimon’ followed by a sensual ‘Cherry Cherry’, yes, Neil Diamond was cooking, and looked genuinely happy to be back on stage.

 

Throughout the show Neil Diamond easily engaged with his audience, even taking time to promote a couple of products, a bar of chocolate no less, and a Hi-Fi system, in order to avoid cutting to an ad break. He promotes the items sincerely, but not without a little humour, where he is seen distributing pieces of chocolate to the audience.

The music continues, ‘Sweet Caroline’, ‘The Last Picasso’, ‘Longfellow Serenade’,

et al, leading up to a finale of the ‘Jonathan Livingston Seagull’ suite this is

Neil Diamond at his best and possibly the closest filmed concert to his

'Hot August Night'  triumph.

The camera work is fabulous, you couldn’t get closer to the feel of the man himself unless you were actually on stage alongside him, at times you feel as though you are. Neil Diamond is at his assured and charismatic best, with a selection of songs that are sung in that great voice, not always on point, but wholly captivating. This concert may not have the raw power, and emotion of ‘Hot August Night’ or the intimate feel of the BBC’s In Concert special from the early seventies, but it has many things that are just wonderful.

Neil Diamond’s stage presence from start to finish is what many aspiring music stars can only dream of, but should observe as a master class in how to project oneself. Equally, Diamond’s stagecraft is something to behold, and again a lesson in how to utilise the performing area and keep an audience engaged. His interaction with his audience is as good as you will get from any performer. He has humour, timing, and most of all an ability to make  one feel he is communicating with you alone, even if you are watching as opposed to being there.

This is a fabulous concert from a man. Neil Diamond, who has continued to endure, an opportunity to see him at his peak, his fabulous songs are testament to his immense song-writing skills, but beyond that, it is the man himself, where he has an almost hypnotic appeal, which never fails to draw you in, and once under his spell, you are hooked, often wanting more of what he has to offer. The only complaint from this recorded show is the poor sound quality, which is more of an irritant, but does nothing to detract from Neil Diamond’s performance.

NB: Apologies to fans in Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, South Korea and the United States, owing to copyright reasons these videos are blocked by Eagle Rock in your respective countries. For your benefit, the audio tracks of these songs have been included.

LOVE AT THE GREEK   1976

“It’s daytime now at the Greek Theatre, and when you look around you, it’s like a thousand other outdoor theatres that you’ve seen before, but when night falls, something very magical happens to this theatre.

The audience is the other half of the performance, you can’t do it without them, you need them, you want them, they’ve got to be with you or else there’s nothing, when the audience start to come in, that feeling of anticipation begins to build.

Hopefully, you’re able to leave some kind of mark, or some kind of impression on the audience, “I liked him,” "He moved me", or “I hated him” any kind of impression, it always comes down to that kind of thing, an emotional response.

And then when the audience is with you, and the band is cooking, and the night is made for love, suddenly, you’re not just a man on stage anymore, you’re a man having a love affair with thousands of other people, and most of all, best of all..... you’re not alone anymore." - ND 1976

 

Those words were the opening introduction of the video recording of

Neil Diamond’s stunning comeback show at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles in 1976.

Neil had taken a sabbatical from performing in 1973 in order to find himself as a person, and spend time with his young family and re-evaluate his life. The absence did him good, as he came back to the stage re-energised, and put on a series of shows to rival his famous 'Hot August Night' concerts of 1972.

Neil gives a powerful and memorable performance at the Greek Theatre, the show takes us back to a memorable time in pop music and Neil Diamond’s career, where at that time he stood astride the music landscape as the biggest music star in the world, and he showed it. Opening his already impressive catalogue of songs to regale his adoring audience, all the big hits of the time were there, in rousing and intimate interpretations.

‘Sweet Caroline’, sang as well in live concert as ever, ‘Play Me’, an impassioned plea to the female admirers at the front, the lively

‘Cherry Cherry’ the raunchy ‘The Last Picasso’ and the beautiful

‘Longfellow Serenade’.  Diamond introduced new songs from what was his new album at that time, and is now considered a classic, the benchmark ‘Beautiful Noise’ produced by rocker, Robbie Robertson.

During this concert Neil allowed himself to be, well, Neil Diamond, oozing all the class, charm and charisma that we have come to know of Neil, showing the dynamism that elevated him to the highest echelons of the music industry. To his female admirers Neil is irresistible and sexy, and for his part, Neil plays up to that side of his character, leaving them swooning, and breathless at their hero.

 

This concert was a highlight in Neil Diamond’s “Live” career as it brought him back to the forefront of popular music, and cement his position as the number one recording and performing artist in the world. It is remarkable that despite being away from the stage for over three years, Neil Diamond was still able to fill out many concert venues, where his popularity never waned despite his absence.

​‘The Love At The Greek’ shows were a definite turning point in Neil’s career, from the raucous rock oriented style, to the smooth, mature performer he had become, appealing to a broader range of music fans. This show captures the enigmatic style that has garnered rave reviews throughout Diamond’s illustrious performing career.

JONATHAN LIVINGSTON SEAGULL - NEIL DIAMOND
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At that time it was commonplace for bands and artistes to have their showbiz friends attend their shows, and even be invited up to share the spotlight, and so it was with Neil, as he invites singers Helen Reddy, and Diana Ross to sing with him. However, the highlight was reserved for an appearance of one of TV’s best loved characters, “The Fonz” from

'Happy Days' portrayed so brilliantly by the wonderful  Henry Winkler,

and to many whoops and hollers, and to Mr Winkler’s huge embarrassment, he duly obliges, and nervously enters the stage. After much coaxing from Neil, Mr Winkler brings “Fonzie” to the party, and the crowd, as well as Neil love it.

I'M GLAD YOU'RE HERE WITH ME TONIGHT LIVE    1977

Situated in the East of England, lies the lush green county of Bedfordshire,

it was to be the setting for one of Neil Diamond’s most celebrated concerts, where Neil would perform at the historical Woburn Abbey, the aristocratic home of the Duke of Bedford, Robin Russell, the 14th Marquess of Tavistock, and his wife, Henrietta, the Marchioness.

Surrounded by twenty eight acres of land, including the beautiful deer park, the Abbey provided a most spectacular setting for the concert, an invitation Neil Diamond couldn’t refuse.

 

I remember attending this show, Saturday 2nd July 1977, my first ever concert, and the concert which cemented my fandom of Neil Diamond, a beautiful and memorable day, which I have described elsewhere on the website.

It was evident that Neil Diamond fitted perfectly in the grand surroundings of the Abbey, bringing his fabulous songs and showmanship to England’s aristocracy, where it could be said, the King of Music met with British royalty, where Neil was on top form, and continued his own love affair with England, and his fans. It seemed Neil Diamond loved visiting these shores, to enjoy the serenity that Britain’s beautiful countryside and villages offered, away from the madness of his homeland, America.

The TV special then moved on to Paramount Studios and show Neil at work, both recording and writing. There is a fabulous rendition of Joni Mitchell’s ‘Free Man In Paris’, where Neil gives it more vocal muscularity than Joni’s rendition, and the arrangement allows it to soar, as Neil reaches the fabulous final crescendo.

We are then given a glimpse into the world of how a song is put together as Neil works with song-writing husband and wife team, Marilyn and Alan Bergman, co-writers of ‘You Don’t Bring Me Flowers’, which allows Neil to perform a rare solo version of the song, especially as it is now considered as a duet standard with fellow luminary Barbra Streisand.

Aerial view of the spectacular Woburn Abbey and grounds

The concert was centred around the release of an album Neil Diamond had recorded, entitled, ‘I’m Glad You’re Here With Me Tonight’, which would also include a subsequent TV special, incorporating highlights of the concert at Woburn Abbey.

The video opens with Neil walking through the vast parkland of Woburn, strumming his guitar and talking about the county of Bedfordshire. It then cuts to a scenario of what the elder occupants of the Abbey would have made of the huge gathering that attended the show, believing it to be an invasion, and then shows Neil prancing on stage, strapping on his guitar and joining in with the lively ‘Dance Of The Sabres’ opening. The video then cuts to all the pomp and circumstance associated with England and the aristocracy.

 

We are then treated to a “Live” studio performance of ‘Desiree’, followed by the title song, 'I’m Glad You’re Here With Me Tonight’, and then,

‘Let Me Take You In My Arms Again’, all of these songs are delivered powerfully and with great style and emotion. Neil then introduces us to an old friend, 'Jonathan Livingston Seagull', interspersed with images from the motion picture. We see Neil in Paris, playing chess with an old man, to the song ‘Morningside’. I particularly like this, as it shows Neil totally empathetic towards the old man.

The finale of the special shows further highlights of the “Live” studio show, where Neil performs a medley of his biggest hits of that time. It is a fantastic showcase, where each song flows into the next, forming a wonderful segued tapestry of the songs that escalated Neil Diamond into superstardom.

The section comprises, ‘Song Sung Blue’, ‘Cherry Cherry’,

‘Brother Love’s Travelling Salvation Show’, ‘Sweet Caroline’, each featuring clips of previous concert successes, a most moving and beautiful ‘I Am… I Said’, which leads into a pared down version of ‘Kentucky Woman’, where the band sing lines from other songs, allowing Neil to introduce his band, and then fading to end.

This TV special allowed Neil Diamond to present himself to a wider audience on one of his earlier visits to Britain and Europe, whilst also promoting his most current album at that time. It shows Neil Diamond, (one of music’s defining stars) at the height of his career, in an era where he sat astride the music landscape as the number one recording and touring artist in the world.

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