by Paul Cashmere, Noise11
Neil Diamond has returned to the Australian stage for the first time since 2011 and opened the Aussie leg of the tour at Melbourne’s Rod Laver Arena on Tuesday night (October 27).
When a songwriter as legendary as Diamond performs his own songs that became the soundtrack of a number of generations it is a special occasion and the audience knew it. Many of them had spent more than half a century admiring the man they came to see.
At 74 years of age Neil Diamond can still deliver the songs with passion and energy but it won’t go on forever. One by one as these true superstars stop touring, you have to wonder who will replace them. There is no-one from today’s generation of artists with a catalog this strong nor is there ever likely to be again. Even after delivering 2 hours and a 29 strong set list there were still Neil Diamond classics that Neil Diamond didn’t have time to put in.
I learned a few things about Neil as well. For starters, this 74 year old was streaming his show to his 97-year-old mother back home in Los Angeles. Diamond dedicated America to his grandmother, a Russian immigrant who came to the USA over 100 years ago. And then there were the childhood moments, the stories of his mother, his father and his brother, growing up in Brooklyn as a backdrop to one of his lesser known hits Brooklyn Roads. The song has special meaning for Diamond and, while not an obvious choice to play, told a story that in context needed to be there.
At one stage when a fan called out his name he responded, “I love it when women yell out my name. It makes me feel like I’m 70 again.”
The original songs in this show span across 50 years from Cherry Cherry in 1966 through to three songs from his new album Melody Road including Seongah and Jimmy, only ever played live once before at the launch of the album last year. The performance at the Melbourne show was actually the first time Neil Diamond had played the song at one of his concerts.
There is amazing insight into the mind of Neil Diamond in his lyrics from the heartbreak of Love On The Rocks through to the insecurity of I Am…I Said. Diamond was only in his mid 20s when he wrote Girl You’ll Be A Woman Soon, Red Red Wine and Shilo. Almost 50 years later those words still resonate with audiences old and new.
Neil Diamond's set list:
- I’m A Believer (from Just For You, 1967)
- Desiree (from I’m Glad You’re Here With Me Tonight, 1977)
- Love On The Rocks (from The Jazz Singer, 1980)
- Hello Again (from The Jazz Singer, 1980)
- Pretty Amazing Grace (from Home Before Dark, 2008)
- Kentucky Woman (single 1967)
- You Got To Me (from Just For You, 1967)
- Girl You’ll Be A Woman Soon (from Just For You, 1967)
- Play Me (from Moods, 1972)
- Red Red Wine (from Just For You, 1967)
- Beautiful Noise (from Beautiful Noise, 1976)
- If You Know What I Mean (from Beautiful Noise, 1976)
- Brooklyn Roads (from Velvet Gloves and Spit, 1968)
- Shilo (from Just For You, 1967)
- Seongah and Jimmy (from Melody Road, 2014)
- Something Blue (from Melody Road, 2014)
- The Art Of Love (from Melody Road, 2014)
- Song Sung Blue (from Moods, 1972)
- Forever In Blue Jeans (from You Don’t Bring Me Flowers, 1978)
- Cherry Cherry (from The Feel of Neil Diamond, 1966)
- Crunchy Granola Suite (from Stones, 1971)
- Holly Holy (from Touching Me Touching You, 1969)
- I Am…I Said (from Stones, 1971)
- Cracklin’ Rosie (from Tap Root Manuscript, 1970)
- Sweet Caroline (from Brother Loves Traveling Salvation Show, 1969)
- America (from The Jazz Singer, 1980)
- Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show (from Brother Loves Traveling Salvation Show, 1969)
- Heartlight (from Heartlight, 1982)