It was a “Hot August Night” back in 1972 that Neil Diamond’s most famous album was recorded at The Greek Theater. Now, 40 years later the heat and the magic of Neil Diamond have returned to that stage.
I was among 6,000 of Diamond’s biggest and most enthusiastic fans at this event. It was coincidentally the 35th anniversary of the death of Elvis Presley, and I have always felt Elvis passed his heritage on to Neil. They had very different backgrounds. Elvis being a poor Southerner boy from a small town in Mississippi, and Neil being lower a middle class urban kid from Brooklyn NY. But, they both commanded a huge loyal audience at concerts. Neil still does.
Neil ignited the opening of his show with an African song I had not heard since 1970, the very catchy “Soolaimon.” It was like ‘The Lion King’ had hit the stage. The “Beautiful Noise” continued his early hits “Cherry Cherry,” “Girl You’ll Be A Woman Soon,” and my absolute Neil Diamond favorite, “Solitary Man.”
The Monkees made Neil’s “I’m A Believer” his first #1 single in 1966. He first sang a mellow acoustic version of it, then plunged immediately to a rockin’ version. He wrote “Red Red Wine” for another group, it has actually been a hit four separate times for other artists, twice alone for UB40. Neil now makes that one a big part of his how. The women screamed for “Sweet Caroline,” they got it. I wonder if they knew he wrote that for Caroline Kennedy?
Moving versions of “Holly Holy,” “Love On The Rocks” and “America” inspired the audience. Neil’s maternal grandmother came to the U.S. via train and ship over 100 years ago. He hasn’t forgotten that, and is still extremely thankful.
Neil was recently given a long overdue star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame, and is in both ‘The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame’, and the ‘Songwriters Hall Of Fame’. He still has a couple of more shows at The Greek. Good luck on getting tickets.
Neil is still a dynamic performer, with a huge catalog of hits, and is also still a great in person act. The woman sitting next to me said she was in two separate accidents on her way to the show, and still had a great time. That says it all.
— Written by our sister station personality Bill Dudley, 94.7 The WAVE