Neil Diamond is so cool. If you don't believe me, just
as the 60,000 some odd fans that saw him play three shows in
Chicago. And I'm also told he has a "nice ass," at least
that was the opinion of the lady in front of me who screamed that
revelation to her friends behind me as Neil was singing "Girl
You'll Be a Woman Soon." But, I'm jumping the gun here in this
review - let's start at the beginning.
A Concert Review
Making our way into our seats, Big Cooter and I seemed to be the
only ones in our section that didn't seem to know everyone else.
Alright, I'm exaggerating a little, but people were passing pictures
of their pets, talking about their families, and Big Cooter and I
just sat there expecting to see a bunch of older people coming to a
show of music that both mine and his parents liked. Boy were we
wrong. From the teenage kids in their "grunge" outfits in
the front row to the elderly folks hanging out in the rafters, this
place rocked all night. As Big Cooter put it, "These old folks
are a more lively crowd than a bunch of the concerts I've seen
lately, well, except maybe AC/DC!" Yep, from the opening to the
closing I realized what Neil Diamond is all about and it is about
being so cool.
Anyway, I'm sitting there, checking out the stage. This was
definitely an "in-the-round" set-up, not like George
Strait's show I had seen a couple of days earlier. The technical
person in me was noticing the flags rolled up above the stage, the
laser mirrors around the round, and these red, rectangular things
hanging from the light truss. As the show went on my guess was that
those things were infrared transmitters for the band's headphones
(well, I've been duly corrected via e-mail. It seems, and I have it
from a pretty good authority, that those "red, rectangular
things" are receivers for the sensors for the device which aims
the followspots to the right place - wow, the engineer in me sure
loves those technical answers!), but I digress. An announcer comes
on saying the show will be starting, and sure enough, the lights
went down and the first thing I noticed was this big mosquito net
coming down over the stage. I know the little bugs were a pain this
summer, but this concert was sure going to suck if Neil and the boys
took cover inside this net. But, just as disappointment was starting
to set in, the lasers kicked in to a way-cool light show on this
mosquito net as the band made their way to the stage. In eager
anticipation the crowd was on their feet and when Neil's head poked
his way out of the tunnel the place just went totally nuts. I think
it was louder than during a Chicago Bulls introduction, even with
Michael Jordan. These people were insane. So much for kicking back
to the melodic sounds of Neil Diamond!
|Neil Diamond - In the Round!
Neil's voice this night seemed a little rough, but through the
two hours it held up nicely. The show touched on nearly every
time-frame of his career: From his earliest material to a lot of
songs from his latest album "Tennessee Moon." The new
music was received nearly as well as the classics, and Neil showed
that he can change a little with the times as his new stuff has that
traditional Neil sound with a little bit of country mixed in. Me
thinks I might just have to try to swing by my CD store and pick up
the CD and let you know a little bit more about it, but, we'll see.
This show was as much about the new as it was about the old.
It's kinda funny to see how the words to a song change their
meaning as you get older. Case in point. The last time I heard
"Play Me" I think I was about ten years old. Back then, as
a kid, you just sing the song not knowing what the words meant. But,
I'm at this concert and Neil sings "Beside my bed" to
which some woman screams out almost like having an orgasm. Neil
almost lost his composure, and I started listening to the lyrics.
Wow, with a little bit of wondering and knowing a lot more than a
ten year old, this song can really be construed with some sexual
references. Wow, maybe that's what my dad meant when he told my mom
to come to the bedroom and listen to "Play Me." Wow, my
parents were sick!
Enough of those thoughts, what about the rest of the show. It was
really kinda cool seeing the teenagers singing all of the words to
Neil Diamond's songs. It was really kinda cool seeing the older
people having one hell of a time, and it was really cool remembering
just why I like Neil Diamond. From "Forever in Blue Jeans"
(which Big Cooter tells me he always thought the lyrics were The
Reverend Blue Jeans), to "Song Sung Blue" which had the
crowd singing and swaying along, Neil Diamond is a great performer
and a great songwriter, even if his lyrics stretch the cuteness
boundary a little. And would the show be complete without
"America?" Not on your life. From the opening of the songs
through the flags unfurling, certain songs bring a pride in where
you live, and this is definitely one of them.
By the near-end of the show, Neil never even got to leave the
stage to come back for the encore. The deafening crowd wouldn't even
let him get down the stairs so he comes back for a rousing "Cracklin'
Rosie" and "Sweet Caroline" during which we taught
some of those around us the proper places to sing "Bum, bum,
bum" and "so good, so good, so good" (it's a Nerd's
I always heard Neil Diamond was a great performer but usually
just kind of figured this guy walking around a stage singing
familiar songs to some fans. Was I ever wrong. Neil Diamond works to
reach every person. Neil Diamond works to put every feeling into
every song. And Neil Diamond is just so cool.
Yea, you can guess, it's TWO BIG GIANT THUMBS UP for the Neil
Diamond man. He's got a great band (alright, the band intros were a
little long, kinda slowed things down a little, but Neil picked it
right back up after they were done), his voice is still great, and
this man really know how to work a round stage which is not the
easiest thing to do. I now know what I've been missing all these
years. Go see him - you might find it too!
That's it for this one, I'm The Dude on the Right. L8R!!!
A P.S. to the review: I hope the artist rendition kind of gives
you a feel for the stage set-up at the show. I was also going to try
to draw a picture of, as the one lady put it, his nice ass. I tried
- it came out really lousy. So, ladies, just picture in your mind a
nice ass in black slacks and there you have it. DOTR