I don’t remember the first time I heard Neil Diamond sing, whether it was on the radio, a television show, and to my recollection my parents didn’t have any of his albums, but he’s always been there, I seem to have known his music forever and been able to sing along always.
Seeing Neil was on tour was exciting, as I’ve got to an age where seeing these ‘greats’ (Tony Bennett – swoon, George Michael, Prince, Kate Bush, etc…) seems to be like going to the last chance saloon. See them before one of us dies. So despite the £99 price tag, we bit the bullet and got out the credit card (and we were in the cheap seats!).
A word about Manchester Arena. The arena has recently reopened after the tragic and devastating terrorist attack earlier this year after the Ariana Grande show had finished and a suicide bomb was detonated, killing 22 people and injuring hundreds of others. The arena now has strict security, and this was dealt with in a very efficient and sensitive way. You get an email warning about not bringing bags in (you’ll be refused entry…and how insensitive would you be to argue with that?) and you will be searched on entering. It was swift, and it is necessary. Airports around the world could learn a thing or 2 from the Manchester Arena. There are a lot of ‘searchers’, sniffer dogs and police, yet the crowd keeps moving on without any major delay. Bravo to all involved.
It was quite strange going into the area where the atrocity happened, and even though there are banners and … stuff all around, it was silent, we all knew this was the place. It’s fantastic that it’s been re-opened as it’s a great venue.
Neil’s band came on at 20:10 – and what a band! He even has an accordion player (never seen that before!) and they were as tight as a … VERY tight thing. Then Neil come up from out of the stage and burst into Cherry Cherry. Of course he looks older, he’s 76, but that voice, that sexy velvet strong MANLY voice is still there. Boy this fella has still got it. This is his 50th anniversary tour so Neil sang all the old hits and in fact it would be easier to miss out the ones he didn’t sing! From Love On the Rocks, Girl You’ll Be a Woman Soon, to Forever in Blue Jeans and Play Me. The only song he didn’t do that I missed was Coming to America. During Brooklyn Roads a film was shown of his parent’s cinefilms which was rather lovely seeing him and his brother as kids in New York.
At one point he got each member of the band to play a little bit and introduce them – something you only really see in Metal/rock gigs! But this one was special as he had a fill in drummer – a young lad from Liverpool who leapt up and down waving to his mam and dad in the audience because he was so excited to be playing with NEIL DIAMOND… and I and 22 thousand other people were just as excited. Yes, it was an audience of mostly oldies, and what a relief. Hardly any mobile phone lights… people watched, danced and sang along (me included) all without that intrusion, no selfies, no glaring lights. It was… perfect. HE was perfect and I had the best time, I sang very loudly and danced non stop for the whole 2 and a quarter hours he was onstage.
In fact I have only one complaint. He didn’t have a sparkly shirt on. Damn it! If you’re a fan of Neil Diamond and ever get the chance to see him, do it. He is amazing.
Review by Tina (co-host of 60 Minutes With)