Early on during his concert Saturday night in the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C., Neil Diamond asked how many people had gotten their tickets as Christmas presents. Half the 16,000 or so folks there cheered. I hollered out “anniversary, Neil!” The wait from October was worth it. My dear wife Karen can now cross seeing this American pop rock legend off her bucket list.
The man still has it. His voice may had started off a bit craggy. At 74, he’s allowed. But once he moved through that long line of hits, filling two hours and a couple spare minutes with the songs of our life, Neil Diamond sounded good. More importantly, he looked fit, fresh and as happy to be there as all the people cheering and calling out his name.
My favorite of the night was “Holly Holy.” Diamond delivered that ode was such passion, clear as a bell and filled with tension and energy, that I raised my hands to the sky, testifying my witness to something magical in that moment.
Karen was particular to “Play Me,” as we held hands, and I looped my arm around her waist for that endearing love song for the ages.
There was so much to like. His jokes about the collision of Passover and Easter in our lives were funny and endearing. His lead-in and family films of growing up and song of life accompanied by that footage of dear Brooklyn on the fabulous Diamond video screen was memorable.
The personality, the voice … and, oh, yeah, there was that famous sing-along, too.
Diamond introduced his band with “Cherry, Cherry,” and started his encore with “Cracking Rosie. And then it came. The moment all had been waiting for, a big cheer at the first recognition. “Sweet Caroline,” now an American tradition reborn for all to sing.
Here’s a treat, even though they announced “no recording.” When I saw oodles of folks doing it all concert long, the iPhone 6 practically switched to video mode itself at the first note of “Sweet Caroline,” and stayed on it through “America.”
Are you a fan of Neil Diamond’s music, and why or why not? Do you sing along to songs at concerts or at bars, and why or why not? What’s you favorite Neil Diamond song, and why?