Live Review: Neil Diamond

30 October 2015 | 3:21 pm | Dylan Van Der Riet

"The two-hour was set was, in so many ways, a time capsule."

Several things about the set-up of Rod Laver Arena immediately set the tone for the night's show: the obviously lowered stage, additional rows of plastic chairs in lieu of a standing audience, the absence of any supporting acts or security; it was clear that those in attendance were unashamedly there for one thing: a seasoned pro with over four decades of patient and dedicated fans. 

The crowd was filled to the brim with said long-time fans, whose tickets, seemingly bought with superannuation and life-insurance cheques, could have easily been not to a show but a pensioner's convention, filling the arena with the kind of lack-of-fucks-given that could come from growing past superficial concerns and embracing nostalgic joy.

The enthusiasm of the 74-year-old veteran and his band of legendary session musicians, ranging from Elvis Presley's drummer through to original members of the 'Hot August Night' line-up, was infectious, raising the audience to their feet as soon as the ever-charming star burst on to the stage for a rendition of The Monkee's I'm A Believer.

There is no doubt that the showman has been at this long enough to know what to the offer his audience. Diamond's newest material, from 2014's Melody Road, was kept to minimum, with classics Crunchy Granola Suite and Sweet Caroline the show's inevitable high-points, a fact displayed by both audience and performers alike. Impressive when not one hit was missed along the way. 

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The two-hour was set was, in so many ways, a time capsule. Diamond's sequined slacks, choreographed band and distinctly vintage sound; things that were inescapably corny and nostalgic to anyone not of the era but the epitome of a show for those who were, felt new through their honest delivery. "I feel like I'm 26 again" one punter was heard shouting; the fans have aged so the show doesn't have to.

Every aspect of the set was well-tested and inexplicably manicured, the limits of the old-school pro never rearing their head by the means of well-timed ballads or instrumental breaks when Diamond's energy was running low. The septuagenarian could easily hold his own and deliver.

Entertaining but by no means revolutionary, yet exactly what was expected, the performers gave everything they had and the crowd returned it ten-fold. Not one person left with a trace of disappointment.