Neil Diamond is farther ahead of the curve than you realize. At the tender young age of 71, Diamond has his own Twitter (417k followers!) and recently released his own app! Most of his fans more than likely barely understand the concept of Twitter, let alone have the technical savvy to download a Neil Diamond app.
Two projection screens showed tweets from some Neil Diamond fans proclaiming there excitement for the show. Even my tweet about photographing the show for OC Weekly made it up there for two cycles. An announcer warned the crowd that the lights would dim and Diamond would be onstage momentarily.
When the lights did go out, the fans started to roar as the band started up the opening notes of "Soolaimon." The spotlights from the back of the Honda Center glowed magnificently as Diamond appeared all smiles, clad in a sparkling black jumpsuit. Strumming his custom black guitar with his name emblazoned on the fretboard, Diamond turned the Honda Center into his second home as he owned the crowd from the minute he hit the stage.
While the average age of the concert attendees was in the 50's and 60's, the noise level was as if Justin Bieber hit the stage. "Beautiful Noise" kept the crowd on their feet waving their arms and dancing in the aisles. Diamond worked the stage well proclaiming he was like a puppy dog going to whatever section of the crowd was louder.
Diamond paced his songs strategically allowing the crowd to sit down and recover. "Red Red Wine" inspired a dance party as the crowd leapt to their feet. It was still impressive to see all the energy Diamond was expending on stage besides the fact he still sounds phenomenal.
It was hard not to think about Urge Overkill during "Girl, You Will Be A Woman Soon." Diamond leaned down at the front of the stage and kissed three women showing he still has plenty of game. Diamond even bemoaned the fact it was difficult being a sex symbol at 71.
Diamond whipped through the acoustic jangle of "Cherry, Cherry" and the sit down ballad of "Solitary Road." Even though The Monkees made "I'm A Believer" a worldwide hit, he was the one who penned the song and sang it as a ballad before transitioning to a rock style. The hits and cheers kept coming as he worked through "You Don't Bring Me Flowers," "Crunchy Granola Suite," and leading the audience to clap along during "Holly Holy."
The highlight of the evening was the massive sing along to "Sweet Caroline" as it was reprised three times to the delight of the audience. Diamond continued to stoke the flames with "America." It seems like Diamond has no plans on slowing down as he continues to put on first performances.
Critical Basis: I love Me First and The Gimme Gimmes punk cover of "Sweet Caroline."
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Crowd: Sparkling shirts and an average age of fifty and upwards.
Overheard: "Neil is so sexy!"
Random Notebook Dump: His brass section were called "The Horn Dogs."