Saturday, February 28, 2015

Feeling Neil Diamond

by Joe… thanks, Honey!
Ah, the feel of Neil, words often used in the glittering fan-world. OPENING NIGHT. A new experience for us! Every song a surprise. No knowledge of set or setlist. And to think, I considered missing this gem of a show. Joe knew not to allow that, later reminding me of the last few rough months of doubt that we'd ever again enjoy life so very much. Thanks, Honey, for the push…

Fourth Row, dead center in the gorgeous new PPL Center in Allentown, PA. Does he recognize us, after all these years?

Mr. D. performed for over two hours like the rock star that he is, in an exceptionally driven show analogous to those of his hungry years, decades ago. It was like he had something to prove… again. I'm still here. I'm still relevant. I still rock. Listen. Watch.

It's true. Each and every lyric was sung with incredible passion. 

From Joe's perspective, comments that I loved absorbing:

"An excellent show. You couldn't ask for more."
"He gave every song his all."
"He's the ultimate showman."

From mine:

All of the above, plus the overwhelming emotion of the night, driven home by my all-time, rarely-performed-live favorite song from Neil's catalogue, If You Know What I Mean, circa 1976. I swear, he did it just for me, with the message, "And you considered not coming???" 'Twas the moment I lost it, tears of gratitude blurring my vision. And then…

There's one song I immediately fell in love with from his new album, Melody Road, called Nothing But A Heartache and previously mentioned on CMIIt has shades of young, hurting, intense Neil-of-the-sixties 'n' seventies, its lyrics already embedded in my brain, accompanied by that rich, deep, unmistakable voice. Joe took this souvenir vid for me. It's just a small indicator of why you should buy tickets, if you've been on the fence till now:
It was a new, attractive set, though it landed the fabulous band too far back on the stage. I had to search for Tom Hensley with keyboard, behind the horn section. King Errisson with congas and Ron Tutt with drums were barely visible, even from our excellent seats. That said, a hit-laden setlist included just enough Caroline to please the masses without overshadowing Play Me, Brother Love, Holly Holy and scores of others.

Neil owned the night. He looked amazing, at 74 years young. Katie agrees with him, for sure. His voice was impeccable and strong. He was animated, excited, emotional, sensual… still… if you know what I mean...

"And here's to the songs we used to sing
And here's to the times we used to know
It's hard to hold them in our arms again
But hard to let them go"