Legendary Neil Diamond shines brightly in Vancouver

Neil Diamond @ Rogers Arena 24/7/17

Photo by Ryan Johnson
Photo by Ryan Johnson

Despite being 76-years old, Neil Diamond showed everyone at Rogers Arena on Monday (July 24) why he is simply, “Neil Diamond The Legend.”

As soon as it was announced over the PA, “Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Diamond will be performing the entire evening without an opening act or intermission,” close to 18,000 people, cheered. They had come for one reason and one reason only, Neil freakin’ Diamond!  

The stage of Neil’s show was what one might consider a bit of a throwback to simpler times: a large band consisting of a horn section, two back-up singers, two drummers, lead and bass guitar, the very necessary saxophone player, a spotlight on one single acoustic guitar and – of course – a giant screen overhead in the shape of a diamond that said, “Neil Diamond 50th Anniversary Tour.” It was all just enough to remind concertgoers that they were seeing someone who’s been belting out hits for half a century, but not enough to distract fans from the main attraction – the man and his music.

Opening with an incredible and pitch perfect rendition of “Cherry Cherry,” Diamond then played the hits and the crowd like the true showman he is. It would be easy to forgive Neil if he had chosen to take the easy route and simply mail in the show, (he’s 76, people!!), or even if his voice was off, but songs such as, “Song Sung Blue,” “Beautiful Noise” (Which he dedicated to “the incredible people of Manchester, England”), “Jungletime” and the timeless, “Forever in Blue Jeans” all sounded just as good at this concert as they would have at a concert Neil may have given 20 or 30 years ago.

A man who knows his audience, Neil got the crowd involved as much as possible and always seemed to be truly thrilled, humbled and honoured to be able to perform for the vocal and happy Vancouver crowd. Yes, there were some cheesy moments such as when he started the night off by saying, “Now, Vancouver has a reputation for being friendly and warm…” – ‘It does?!’ the audience seemed to collectively ask itself. And when he did the standard, ‘Let’s meet the people in the band! Aren’t they all characters?’ dialogue, there was more than a fair share of cheese. But overall the entire concert from top to bottom was one absolutely incredible show.

One of the best examples of Neil’s impeccable showmanship and love for his audience was during the encore. For the true classic “Sweet Caroline” he not only got the nearly sold-out arena to sing along, but when the song was done and he saw that the crowd was so into it, he simply gave the people what they wanted and yelled, “Now… one more time for the people in the back!!” And of course, the audience went even more nuts with cries of, “I love this song!”, “We love you Neil!” , “This is the best!!”, etc., etc.

To have a catalogue where you could end your show with “Holly Holy” and then the very personal “I Am, I Said”, walk off stage, have a nearly full auditorium cheer for several minutes and then have enough energy to come back to do an encore that consists of “Sweet Caroline”, “Cracklin’ Rosie” and an impassioned version of “Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show,” you know that you aren’t just money or golden – nope, you’re Diamond, baby!