In many fields of the arts, one is going to encounter individuals whose genius are so great that they leave an indelible mark on the world; a footprint that lasts for all eternity. In Hollywood, Laurence Olivier is still spoken of in reverential tones, along with other acting greats, John Gielgud, Ralph Richardson and still surviving greats Dustin Hoffman, Ian McKellen and Meryl Streep. The music industry also has its own greats, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, and we can include Neil Diamond in that illustrious company, a man who was blessed with a prodigious talent, with musical gifts that are immeasurable.
I have followed Neil Diamond on his current UK tour as part of his 50th Anniversary World Tour, firstly in Manchester, then to Leeds, and next on to Birmingham, one over-riding trait stands out in Neil, that is, his immense joy in performing, and how he draws his audience in, not solely relying on that wonderfully deep seductive voice, which could melt the hardest heart, but also a magnetism that is missing in many of today’s music stars. I still get awed when he steps onto the stage, his aura is such that you know you are in the presence of greatness, I can only think of Elvis Presley who had that same effect amongst his fans.
In his famous song “Brother Love’s Travelling Salvation Show” Neil takes on the role of a revivalist tent preacher, and I believe it is that which epitomises what Neil Diamond is all about, preaching his music to the masses, preaching love, laughter, joy, sadness and heartbreak, taking us through the whole gamut of emotions that can strip you bare, and yet he does it in a way that makes you believe it will all turn out right in the end.
Neil Diamond’s music has been the soundtrack to American culture and of our lives. It has stretched far and wide, very few people don’t know of him, his legend stands like an edifice to hard work and more than a modicum of talent, and he has garnered recognition at the highest levels of society.
It is difficult not to like Neil Diamond, as a man, he is charmingly sincere, and incredibly gracious, his status in life hasn’t left him immune to us everyday folk. In actual fact, he is very switched on towards his fans, watch any interview with Neil, and he always talks effusively about his fans, and the debt of gratitude he owes them, often stating he has the best fans in the world. Neil Diamond never comes across as conceited, it would be easy for him to get carried away with his immense fame, but he shoulders it with the same grace and charm that has served him well throughout his career.
Neil Diamond has his critics, but seldom rises to such opinion, he doesn’t have to, his success does the talking for him.
Neil Diamond is a one off, totally unique, and wholly original. He is someone we should embrace and treasure, as when it is all over and done, who will we have to turn to, his like will never be seen again.
This 50th Anniversary World Tour is a celebration of the career of this remarkable man. It is vitally important that we recognise that fact, and also what he has given us throughout his amazing musical journey, and maybe reflect, and pay homage to who Neil Diamond is, and what he stands for, a man who has created his own legacy, that will last for all time. Elvis Presley has Graceland, maybe if some entrepreneurial “Diamondhead” was to create a similar place of worship, then maybe we too could take our place and bow at the temple of Neil.