You wouldn’t let your daughter date a Rolling Stone, but chances are you’d let your mum spend a night with Neil Diamond. The 74-year-old played an epic 25-song set at Allphones Arena with songs spanning decades of hits (including many cuts from his Hot August Night double album) as well as some new tracks. It was no mean feat for a man who first toured Australia back in 1976.

This was an evening all about good old-fashioned manners, from the announcer welcoming patrons to the actual star himself. Diamond was a gracious artist, frequently walking across the length of the stage to make sure every single person in the room got a chance to be sung to or connected with.

The show began with a Diamond-penned track made famous by The Monkees and the Shrek film, ‘I’m A Believer’. This big band version was filled to the brim with horns and some old razzle-dazzle. Another song made famous by a different group (UB40) was Diamond’s ‘Red Red Wine’, which had just the right amount of pop and reggae thrown in.

The star was backed by a tight, 13-piece band of musicians who were adept at playing lots of different instruments. This helped create different moods and flourishes, from the cool pop groove of ‘Crunchy Granola Suite’ all the way to some softer wistful ballads like ‘Love On The Rocks’.

A long and sprawling interpretation of ‘Cherry, Cherry’ still boasted that great acoustic guitar hook and allowed Diamond to step back and introduce his entire band. But the biggest song of the night was undoubtedly ‘Sweet Caroline’, during which a huge sing-along in the grey-haired crowd ensued, as well as a hilarious moment when three older women held up huge, Bridget Jones-like knickers. Enough said.

There were moments of pure sentiment and home movies (‘Brooklyn Road’) through to swaying pop songs, all from a man just happy playing his plain old daggy self. Diamond can still smoothly croon away like a youngster, but he also has the worldly wisdom of a gentleman who has learned a thing or two about the art of love.


Originally published on 10 November 2015 at the following website:

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