I drove to Austin to see Neil Diamond in concert last night!!!!! We had fantastic seats!!!!!!! I took my binoculars......................I DIDN'T NEED THEM! I used them to scope the crowd. I was a little disappointed when I got the tickets and they weren't on the floor right in front of the stage. Well, his show is in the round. A revolving stage, and when he was on the other side, the people on the floor would have to stand up to see. I guess David (my ticket contact) knew exactly what he was doing.
The show was fantastic. He sang for over 2 1/2 hours. No warmup act. The only 'intermission' was when he introduced his band, which is without a doubt one of the, if not the, best bands I've ever heard. Of course, they've been together over 20 years! During the introductions, the band was playing a jazz diddy and everyone did a solo. Mr. Diamond has the best percussion section I can remember hearing. They are tight! His guitar player, complete with goattie, leather pants and shades, looked like he stepped straight out of the early 70's. The man can play that guitar, though.
The crowd ranged in age from high school to life support. They were all on their feet most of the time acting and reacting to the man in the middle. You could tell that he really is 'in' to his music and songs, and he knows how to get reactions from the crowd. This was, without a doubt, the distinction between a songwriter/singer, and a just a singer.
He made a set out of 3 or 4 of his Tennessee Moon songs. The crowd was somewhat 'cordial' for these songs, but really seemed to like what I call his 'lullaby' that he wrote with his son. He also made a pitch for Sony's release of 'In My Lifetime'. While singing the title track, a small but enjoyable laser show was happenning.
Of course, his most recognizable songs got the best responses from the crowd of 18,642, with America creating the most excitement. He got a racous reaction to the American and Texas flags that dropped down during the song. This is a man with the problem of having too many show stopping hits. However, Brother Love is an excellent choice to end on, as he did.
In short, I had a great time. I got home (in Houston) around 2:45 this morning and was only 5 minutes late to work!
First, thanks for a grand Neil Diamond Home Site and for all of the hard work you've done.
Now for comments: This was my 5th Diamond concert. I sure don't mean to sound cruel, but I think he had "a bad day!" My boyfriend and I just couldn't "connect" to or with him last night, nor could several couples sitting in my section.
The first thing that hit us when he came out was: "Something's wrong with his voice!" The band was so loud, they covered him up. I felt sorry for him that maybe he was sick and didn't want to let the audience down by canceling. He looked like he was having a good time, but there was a "flatness" to him I've never seen. He did not do nearly as much of his "hip-swingin'" dancing like he used to, and when he talked, his voice sounded almost "stuffed up" as though he may have been suffering from allergies.
He really tried to get with it and "Forever in Blue Jeans" finally got the crowd going. The crowd seemed apathetic as a whole. There were a few sections dancing and clapping, but far fewer than at previous N.D. concerts I've attended. He really tried to sing his heart out, his voice lacked the rich, resonant tambre of yore. Finally, when he did the song he and his son, Jesse, wrote, his voice started coming back....
At a few places, the conga player was playing his heart out and I fully expected people to start dancing to "Soolaimon." Finally, he just gave up and started clapping his hands frantically to get people motivated. I was up swaying and clapping and looked around and realized I was the only one standing up in my whole visible area! That is not "right" for a Neil Diamond concert.
I think the crowd "sat down on him" and I felt they were cruel and unfair. I felt they expected too much of a man who's been on tour since the first of March -- all around the world -- changing climates, diet, having shots and all to go to different countries; and, with the lack of excitement, it was hard for me to show mine and not feel like an oddball. Yes, I was the one dancing my feet off, clapping my hands till they were black 'n' blue and screaming "Wooo-woooo-woooo!" in Section 23, Row 11, Seat #1!
I think the grueling schedule of a major concert every other night for the last several months has caught up with him. I hope he gets some rest and doesn't ruin that beautiful voice for good. Keep up the good work, Neil.
One final note: The "Austin American Statesman" review said he was "too serious" and the writer was offended by the announcement at the beginning about no one would be seated during the opening song. Get a life! That arena is dangerous in pitch darkness and that was a safety precaution! I think perhaps the "seriousness" was a dire sense that I had from Neil of "Will my voice last the entire night?" I felt a sense of compassion FOR him that I've never felt -- I've always wanted something FROM him.
My boyfriend and I did end up crusing down Sixth Street next to his White Limo!!!