Super Diamond to close out Hot Summer Nights in Vail with Ford Amphitheater concert tonight | VailDaily.com

Super Diamond to close out Hot Summer Nights in Vail with Ford Amphitheater concert tonight

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Super Diamond sticks mostly to the pre-1982 Neil Diamond tunes that lend themselves to revelry. The tribute band closes out the Hot Summer Nights free concert series on Aug. 22.

VAIL — Break out your bellbottoms and sequined shirts and prepare your vocal cords for power ballads and up-tempo hits from the '80s: Super Diamond returns to the Vail Valley for a free concert tonight.

It will be the final show in a season that marks 30 years for the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater, and it's bound to inspire an all-evening sing-along including classics "Sweet Caroline," "Cracklin' Rosie," and "Forever in Blue Jeans."

Super Diamond is more than just a Neil Diamond tribute or cover band. In fact, lead singer and band founder Randy Cordero likes to call them "Neil Diamond on steroids," and indeed, the group sticks mostly to the pre-'82 Diamond tunes that lend themselves to revelry.

"We do the songs a lot heavier … We're kind of a cross between AC/DC and Depeche Mode with our approach to Neil Diamond," Cordero said.

Fans certainly dig their style. The band has performed thousands of shows around the country over the course of their nearly 25-year history.

It's likely the nostalgia factor, combined with the band's exuberant live performance that accounts for Super Diamond's success, Cordero said.

"I think Neil Diamond songs are the soundtrack of our lives," Cordero said. "A lot of people have a lot of memories growing up where those songs were played a lot by their parents or on the radio. And people love to hear songs that remind them of childhood. People love nostalgia."

Cordero sounds more like Neil Diamond than resembles him, except of course for the bell-bottoms and sequined shirts he sports during concerts. But Cordero, aka "Surreal Neil," has an uncanny knack for mimicking the real Diamond's mannerisms and performance style.

'So Many Hits'

It was back in a small town in Northern California that Cordero, then a gangly pre-teen, first heard Neil Diamond's voice.

"Neil Diamond's '12 Greatest Hits' was my first eight-track tape," he said. "I loved it."

By the time Cordero hit high school, Neil wasn't nearly as cool as AC/DC and Van Halen. It would be around a decade before Cordero rediscovered Neil Diamond and soon after started buying his music — CDs by that point — and immersing himself in the songs.

"I just remember thinking 'wow, he's got so many hits, so many great songs I forgot about.' That's why it was exciting to start singing his songs, because he wasn't getting any respect, like The Beatles, The Stones, all the old classic rock bands that everyone knew about. Neil was just forgotten."

It took Cordero a few years to find "the right people" for the Neil Diamond cover band he envisioned, but when he did, it took off. Super Diamond's first gig was at Paradise Lounge in San Francisco in 1993. Going into that first show, Cordero assumed the band would do a few shows and have a few good laughs.

"I didn't know it would turn into a national touring thing … but then it started spreading."

'Dream Come True'

Twice during the early 2000s, Cordero and the other band members got a chance to meet, and sing, with Neil Diamond himself. The first time, Diamond showed up at a Super Diamond concert at Hollywood's House of Blues where he sang the encore 'I Am, I Said' with the band.

Three months later, the band was hired to play the premiere party for the film "Saving Silverman." Once again on the House of Blues stage, Diamond crooned "Cherry Cherry" and "Forever in Blue Jeans" with the band.

"It was great, like a dream come true," Cordero said.

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If you go …

Who: Super Diamond performs the final Hot Summer Nights free concert.

When: Tuesday, Aug. 22. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and the music begins at 6:30 p.m.

Where: Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater, Vail.

Cost: Free.

More information: Visit http://www.vvf.org.

GETTING THERE

The Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater is located east of Golden Peak at Ford Park in Vail. Concert attendees are asked to park at the main Vail Village parking structure, with overflow parking at the Lionshead parking structure.

Free town of Vail shuttles run past Golden Peak from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m., with a drop off at the soccer field near the Ford Amphitheater. Additionally, a special Village-to-Village express bus runs from 4 to 9:30 p.m. with stops at the east entrance of the Lionshead parking structure, in front of the Vail Village Information Center and at Ford Park.

Once in Ford Park, golf cart shuttle service is available. Once inside the concert venue (a non-smoking venue), picnics with commercially-sealed non-alcoholic beverages are permitted, as are legless lawn chairs, blankets and umbrellas. Bikes, skateboards and dogs are prohibited at the amphitheater.

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