Have you ever seen that commercial where the kids don’t recognize their father as he gets a little loose on a cruise ship? I imagine that’s how a lot of college students would feel if they accompanied a parent to a Neil Diamond concert.
Diamond doesn’t get much credit from today’s youth, besides maybe being known for a bit role in 2001’s “Saving Silverman.”
And outside of the “greatest sing-a-long in the world” — “Sweet Caroline” — it’s doubtful that many young adults would even be able to name a song of Diamond’s. But there is still a sizable fan base out there aching for the mellow, country-western pop ballads on which Diamond built his career.
Neil DiamondHot August night/nyc
Dive Verdict: 3 of 5 stars
The fan base I’m talking about packed four consecutive shows at Madison Square Garden in the summer of 2008.
One of these August nights resulted in this career-encompassing two-hour live set. Beginning with the bubbly “Holly Holy”, and ending with a rendition of “Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show”, Diamond and his growl keeps his willing audience fixated on every over-told tale and acoustic chord.
As seemingly every song sets a new high-water mark for dramatic interpretation, the crowd’s intimate bond with Diamond only seems to intensify. Judging by the crowd’s reaction, Diamond’s performance far outweighs the apparent repetitiveness of the music in this collection.
By the time the band has played out its solos and Diamond has long since bid his adieus, the real end to the album occurs as the once rambunctious audience is abruptly deflated, realizing the short vacation from their middle-aged lives is over.
For these people, Diamond stands for more than studded western wear and a receding hairline. He is an icon, the man who supplied The Monkees with their biggest hit and basically invented the adult-contemporary genre.
There is no artist in today’s popular realm that can stand for what Diamond does to his generation. Dave Matthews might still have a chance, but 30 years from now I have a hard time seeing Matthews rip through four straight shows at the world’s most famous arena.
No, he’s not the Rolling Stones. But I don’t think it would be far-fetched to say Diamond’s music has played just as significant of a role in as many people’s lives as has Mick Jagger and Keith Richards.
The man is a force. You have to give him that.
Contact the Diversions Editorat firstname.lastname@example.org.
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