Posts Tagged ‘glendale arena’

‘Solitary Man’ plays for his friends

I know I’ve said before that the Dave Matthews Band show in August was a religious experience, but that concert, every concert I’ve seen and will see pails in comparison to Neil Diamond’s performance at Glendale Arena on Thursday.

Diamond’s band slowly rose out of the stage. Once they were in position, Diamond appeared at the top of a mini-stair case. He looked like evangelist with his red, rhinestone-studded shirt. He worked and kept the crowd in a frenzy during his two hour set.

After his opening song, he proclaimed to the crowd that usually sings to part of the arena that is loudest. He then walked across the stage and got the packed arena to scream harder and harder. The crowd was putty in the legend’s hands.

In the first few songs, he played some of his classics including “Beautiful Noise,” “Kentucky Woman,” and “Cherry, Cherry.” After that, his backup singers descended into the stage, and Diamond included the crowd in a superb rendition of “Play Me.”

Diamond expressed his pride in his acting debut The Jazz Singer. He then started in on “Love on the Rocks” which ranks as one of his best songs of the night. The highlight, though, came next with “America.” He introed the song with a little personal background and then tore into the song. On the video screens were images of the American flag, bald eagle, and black and white photos and video of people arriving at Ellis Island in New York. If you weren’t proud to be an American after that song, move back to Canada.

Diamond had the crowd in tears with his duet of “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” with backup singer Linda. You could tell that they’ve been singing that song together for quite sometime. I felt like I was at an opera because they both played their roles perfectly. The finished the song with a passionate kiss. Diamond said they’ve been singing that song for years so he finally bought the woman some flowers. “It takes a while to get it through a man’s head.”

One song that was extremely impressed with that more acts should incorporate is a song that serves as an intro for the entire band. Diamond had one called “Wake Up the Band.” The song basically gave each member a chance to do a quick solo act. I thought it was tastefully done and appropriate.

After a series of slow songs and ballads, Diamond had the crowd on their feet with “Sweet Caroline.” He didn’t even have to intro the song, once the first few notes started, the crowd was cheering and hollering. The crowd was singing along with the chorus including the “bam-bam-bam” part. He kept everybody on their feet with a rockin’ rendition of “I’m a Believer.”

The funniest moment of the night came when he was singing an intro to a song he used to play in the coffee houses of Greenwich Village. He had his backup singers out there, but they kept repeating some of the lyrics that didn’t really jive well with Diamond. The funniest one was when he ended a lyric with “I’m a fake.” The singers all looked at each other, nodded their heads, and repeated, “He’s a fake. He’s a fake. He’s a fake.” To which Diamond acted like he was a little perturbed, but it was all in good fun.

My favorite moment of the night came when Diamond played “Red, Red Wine.” The song started out the slower version he is known for, but it eventually turned into the version that UB40 made popular in the 80s. He even gave a shout-out to the English reggae band.

He ended the show like the religious event it felt like with “Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show.” Once again, the people were standing with their hands in the air. Somewhere in the arena, I’m there was a fun convulsing and speaking in tongues.

Neil Diamond knows how to work a crowd of 15,000 fans. I got the impression that people sitting in the nosebleeds had the same feeling as the people sitting in the front row: Diamond was including them in the performance. Every concert I go to after this will be judged based on Diamond’s performance. He is the consummate professional and more acts should take a cue from him on how to be more professional, put on a good show, and make the fans feel like their singing to them.

Originally appeared in the entertainment and music sections on azcentral.com on October 9, 2005.

Posted: October 19th, 2009
Categories: Concert
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