A SUMMER NIGHT WITH DIAMOND AND DIANA
Thursday, July 5th, 1984, a hot, sultry summer’s day, the sun wringing pops of sweat off the brow, the day was no different than the day before, except on this day, I had an engagement with royalty, literally and musically, in the guise of Neil Diamond and Prince Charles and his princess, Diana, who would be attending Neil’s concert at Birmingham’s NEC Arena in aid of the Prince Charles Charity Trust.
I won’t bore you with the details of the journey to the arena, only that it was filled with a sense of anticipation of a fabulous night’s entertainment, with the world’s premier music star, the royal attendees were an added bonus, although I appreciate much of the attention would centre around the popular Princess, given her immense standing in the world, and that she was expecting her second royal heir.
Arriving at the arena we were diverted away from the area where the royal couple were being presented to the large media presence, and of course Mr Diamond, I had taken my seat, and surveyed the surroundings, masses of people streaming in, and then the royal couple were shown to their seats, just to the left of the stage, Prince Charles looked dapper in a smart grey suit, Diana, resplendent in an emerald green, jewelled maternity frock, her famous blonde hair styled neatly, framing her glowing features, she appeared delighted to be attending Neil’s show. I wondered whether Diana’s presence would detract from the musical spectacle that was about to ensue, given the pomp that always seemed to surround her, would her attendance affect Neil? I needn’t have worried, Neil was in top form, he seemed inspired in front of his royal guests, wearing a plum coloured, tasseled, and glass- beaded shirt, and charcoal grey slacks, he enthralled the crowd with his fabulous songs and showmanship, even encouraging everyone to shake their “fannies” (a totally different meaning to the English translation in American slang) and shake they did, even Diana stood and moved to the music, not as energetically as most of the audience, given her obvious condition, but she showed great enthusiasm, Charles however, deciding to maintain a sense of royal decorum, watching on interestedly.
Part of the show was being recorded for American television as part of an Olympic gala in support of Los Angeles hosting the Olympic games that summer, Neil addressed the watching masses, wishing he could be there but declaring he was having a fabulous night in front of 12,000 joyful souls in Birmingham, but we are with you in spirit tonight, he assured, also wishing the Great Britain and American Olympic teams the best luck, the greatest luck we could wish them, and then launched into a lively Forever In Blue Jeans, which had everyone on their feet, Neil was fabulous, looking over at the royal party and blowing kisses in the direction of the expectant Princess, she in return gave that famous shy smile.
The end of the show was rounded off by a playing of the National Anthem in respect of the Royals, who were escorted from the arena before anyone else was allowed to leave, Neil himself waited in abeyance whilst they departed, where he would be introduced again to his royal guests before retiring in triumph of a good night’s work.
All in all, we were royally entertained, by the master showman and the English Royal family, could it get any better ....? SET LIST: • America • Love On The Rocks • I’m Alive • Play Me • Thank The Lord For The Night Time • Cherry Cherry • Sweet Caroline • Red Red Wine • Beautiful Noise • Surviving The Life • If You Know What I Mean • Hello Again • Robert E. Lee • You Baby • Songs Of Life • September Morn OLYMPIC GALA ADDRESS ... • Songs Of Life • September Morn • Forever In Blue Jeans • You Don’t bring Me Flowers • One By One • Torch Song • Dedicated To The One I Love • Spanish Harlem • Medley – Golden Slumbers, Carry That Weight • Song Sung Blue • Cracklin’ Rosie • I Am …I Said ENCORE: • Soolaimon • Brother Love’s Travelling Salvation Show