It was a very bright night. We had great parking in uptown Charlotte, fantastic seats at the Time Warner Arena, and an incredibly entertaining show that I won’t soon forget: Neil Diamond, center-stage and very alive.
The show started a bit late, but when the house lights finally went down and the stage-lights rose, the “mostly over-60” concert-goers were on their feet and rockin’ like way back with Holly Holy. It gave me a nice little buzz. Following the opening number, Diamond promised the audience “a good time.” He kept his word, too.
Neil Diamond is a living American legend who sings a lot about “good times” —home, goodwill, good feelings, and good old simple love. His 4-decade career has seen 53 feature albums, 18 compilations, and 10 guest artist recordings. He’s sold over 92 million records worldwide, including 35 Top 40 singles and 10 platinum albums. (Rolling Stone) And he’s still at it, having just released a new CD, Home Before Dark.
The show featured a few songs from Home Before Dark, but most of the 2-dozen selections were the big Diamond hits like Love on the Rocks, I Am I Said, Solitary Man, Sweet Caroline, Forever in Blue Jeans, and You Don’t Bring Me Flowers. From start to finish, the show was engaging, but Diamond’s sparkling encore was the capstone of the evening–Cracklin’ Rosie, Coming to America (with accompanying video), and Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show. Everyone in the place (or at least everyone within my line of vision) had a hallelujah melt-down on that final number.
Diamond’s band was in high gear as well and was spotlighted on Cherry Baby. Most of the “mature” group musicians and backup vocalists have probably been together since the start of Diamond’s career. In fact, Diamond commented frequently about their “family” nature.
Diamond spoke to the crowd like an old friend—honest, light-hearted, and with compassion. During the concert, he also announced that 100% of the profits from promotional merchandise would go directly towards the construction of homes and shelters for hurricane victims.
Altogether, it was a flawless evening. Downtown Charlotte’s night-time sparkle was a little brighter last night. Neil Diamond made sure of that.