"The stage, she is the god-damnedest woman you ever saw." - ND 1972
Neil Diamond, who has never been a critic’s favourite, is a performer who must be seen in concert for his full impact to be felt. On stage, Diamond is a striding pop gladiator, who roars out his songs in that undeniably rich bass baritone, and that unmistakable voice that has been heard on albums worldwide. Neil Diamond is a dichotomy, a man who, when on stage contradicts everything he has ever said about himself being the shy, quiet loner.
“There is no room for doubts once you get up on stage” Diamond reflected in an interview, “Once you’re up there, you better not doubt anything, you do what you’re doing, and pray that it works out alright”.
In the two accompanying pieces relating to Neil Diamond the songwriter, and Neil Diamond the singer, I stated that Neil Diamond’s intention was always to be a songwriter, and yet it was almost inevitable that Neil would take to performing his own songs. It is often the case with people who are mostly reticent to have a burning desire to be noticed, in Diamond’s case, it was his wish to get his songs noticed, and the only way was to sing and perform them himself.
The man we see on stage is far removed from the songwriter, a part of his job that requires almost a solitary existence in order to be creative.
Neil Diamond on stage is a sight to behold, every inch the music superstar, glitzy, larger than life, oozing charm and charisma, and a man who feeds off the electricity of the audience and occasion, and a man who by his own admission, wasn’t afraid to take a leap of faith, and make a fool of himself. Neil Diamond has few equals on the live circuit, where he always delivers the most fabulous concert experience.
Neil Diamond has always said he is essentially a “Live” performer, where his songs work better in a live setting. He says he enjoys seeing the reaction of his audience when he presents his songs in concert, it is always about the songs and the music, it is that which makes the show.
I believe Neil Diamond does himself a huge disservice when he plays down his own part in his live shows, where he often praises his band, he is overly gracious and in praise of their talents, and also the audience,
but is self deprecating of his own achievements, and yet without Neil Diamond there is no show. It is Neil himself that makes his live show special, whilst his fans recognise the massive part his band plays, it is Neil they come to see.
I think the reason Neil Diamond is such a great “Live” performer, is his unabashed desire to be accepted, and to make a connection through his songs, his character also gives a clue as to why he resonates with so many people.
He is wholly charming, inoffensive, and gracious.
Neil Diamond is immensely likeable as a man, and that forms a massive part of his appeal, he carries his fame honourably, never appearing conceited or aloof, and he hasn’t become immune to his fans, where he is all too ready to recognise and respect the role his fans have played throughout his career.
Whilst attending a few of Neil’s recent concerts as part of his 50th Anniversary World Tour, I was struck by the warmth and immense love the audience had for Neil, particularly as he stepped out at the start of each show,
I am sure Neil himself felt that, as I noticed he stood quietly, looking around, taking it in, and was noticeably moved by the reception. It is that level of adoration, and his burning desire to be accepted which encapsulates everything about Neil Diamond...