It was a first for many New Hampshire fans who’ve waited a lifetime
for the seasoned crooner to make his way to the Granite State.
And based on the sell-out crowd that spanned several generations of
fans, it’s possible Diamond is even bigger than he was when his string
of Top-40 hits began in the 1960s.
The show opened with “Coming to America,” a real crowd pleaser — as
if any song about America could be a clunker these days. But Diamond
did it right, backed by his 17-piece band that included a four-piece
string section, horns, steel drums, guitars, keyboards, and backup
After the first song, Diamond took a moment to playfully
editorialize about the quality of the Verizon’s sound system, which
has been criticized as too echoey, at times.
“It’s a record crowd here at the Echo Capital of New Hampshire. But
don’t worry — the echo is absorbed by your clothing,” said Diamond.
“And so I’ve been asked by management to ask that you don’t take your
clothes off during the show.”
Of course, the crowd went wild every time Diamond unleashed his
subtle sexuality. In particular, as Diamond prepared to sing, “Girl,
You’ll be a Woman Soon.”
That’s when Annette Simard, 70, of Manchester noticed the singer
was working up a sweat. So she stepped to the front of the stage,
pressed a white tissue to her lips and then held it toward Diamond.
Slowly, Diamond walked over toward Simard, knelt down for the
tissue and, before she knew it, was holding her hand. He sang the
entire song to her as they shared the spotlight, at times as he sat,
or even stretched his body out in front of her on the stage. The
swooning Simard covered her face at times and appeared to be weak in
the knees, as the crowd erupted in cheers and laughter.
“Has anybody got a cigarette?” asked Diamond at the end of the
number. “Thank you, my darling. I’ll take experience over youth any
day. I like a woman who comes and gets what she wants,” he said, as
Simard stepped back to her front-row seat.
Throughout the rest of the show Diamond proved that there are perks
to sustaining a career for more than four decades.
For one thing, your fan base keeps regenerating, evidenced by the
age span of the crowd that included plenty of mother-daughter duos,
such as Patricia Salois, 51, and her daughter Christine, 26.
“I like the way he moves,” said Christine.
“He seems like an honest, down to earth guy,” said Patricia.
“There’s no such thing,” said Christine.
“He looks just like my father,” said Patricia.
And there you have the essence of what it is about Neil Diamond
that makes it possible for him to keep a sold-out arena full of
devoted fans swooning for two-and-a-half hours.
Midway through the show Diamond started churning out his hits,
including “Solitary Man,” “Holly Holy” and “Cherry, Cherry.”
He even launched into a few of the songs that have made others
famous, like “Red, Red Wine,” which was never a hit for Diamond, but
that put UB40 on the map, and “I’m a Believer,” which has rounded the
charts twice — for the Monkees back in the 1960s and again last summer
for Smashmouth as part of the “Shrek” soundtrack.
Just before 10:30 p.m. Diamond finished up with “I Am, I Said,”
then rewarded the crowd with an encore that included “Cracklin’ Rosie”
and “Brother Love’s