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Katherine is the Managing Editor at The Hudsucker. She has been working in libraries for the past 10 years and holds a B.A. in American Studies & Ethnicity from the University of Southern California. In her free time, the Seattleite enjoys writing fiction, going to brunch, taking long walks with her roommate, and playing Dungeons & Dragons with her friends. Katherine is a huge fan of the Seattle Mariners and has probably seen every Marvel movie at least five times. She loves classic rock and can quote even the most obscure lines from The Simpsons. Follow Katherine on Twitter: @thethingiskat.

Even After 40 Years, The Good Times Never Seemed So Good With Neil Diamond

Last Monday, July 23, I attended my very first Neil Diamond concert when he played to a practically sold out crowd at the Key Arena in Seattle. Now, I realize that at age 24 I was born well after the height of Neil’s popularity, but his music has been a fixture in my life since the day I was born. Some of my earliest memories involve my mom driving my brother and I to school with the cassette tape of his album Lovescape playing the in background. I remember giggling when I was old enough to understand that in his song “I Am, I Said” he is actually singing about talking to his chair. I also remember my mom and her friends going to see a Neil Diamond concert when I was very young and being sad I couldn’t go with them, but there was the promise that someday, when I was older, I would be able to go to one of his concerts too.

Image Credit: Sony Legacy

Image Credit: Sony Legacy

Well, about 15 years later, that promise came true. I attended his Key Arena show with my mother and was not quite sure what to expect. My mom had been to a few of his concerts over the years, and she said he puts on a great show, but I had to judge for myself. I was not sure how well his voice had held up over the years and if he would still have the same kind of charisma he had when he was younger.

When we first got there, I was struck by the age variation of the crowd. Not to say that I expected the crowd to be only made up of, for lack of a better phrase, “old people” but I expected to be one of the only people in my mid-20s there, but that was not the case. I’ve been to a few concerts before of artists from the 1960s and 70s, and the crowds tend to skew older. However, for this Neil Diamond show, I noticed children (and ones who were excited to see Neil and weren’t just dragged along because their parents couldn’t find a babysitter), teenagers, and young adults who were all excited for the show.

Neil Diamond performing at Key Arena on July 23. Image Credit: Debra Hernandez

Shortly before the concert was set to begin, a man came over the sound system and announced that there would be no opening act and that there would be no intermission. A few minutes after that he came on and opened with a jubilant version of “Soolaimon” followed by hit after hit. Some of the highlights included “Forever In Blue Jeans” which had the entire audience singing along, “Girl, You’ll Be A Woman Soon” where he got down on his knees and sang to and held hands with various women in the front row, and “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” which he sang as a duet with longtime back up vocalist Linda Press. Another crowd favorite was when he performed two versions of his hit “I’m A Believer” starting with the slowed down version he sang on his 2010 album Dreams and leading into the uptempo version made famous by The Monkees.

He closed the concert with an extended version “Sweet Caroline” which had the entire audience on their feet and singing along and the fan favorite “I Am, I Said”. After an extremely brief exit from the stage, Neil came back out for the encore and sang a few more hits including “America” and “Brother Love’s Travelling Salvation Show”, before which he mentioned that this year is the 40th anniversary of the concert and album Hot August Night.

Singing You Don’t Bring Me with Linda Press. Image Credit: Debra Hernandez

After about two solid hours, the show was over. I was struck by how fit Neil seemed to be for a performer of his age. He moved all over the stage throughout the show, singing and at times playing the guitar, and never showed any hints of being tired. His voice was steady as ever, and he hit every note in every song just about flawlessly. I felt as though I had just watched him perform a concert in his prime, and quite possibly that could still be true.

Though I went into the show unsure of how well Neil Diamond might perform, his concert exceeded any of my possible expectations. If anyone is on the fence about seeing him on his current tour, his show is well worth the price of admission and he’ll make you a believer.

 

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