‘Neil Diamond on steroids’ in store for Vail Valley | VailDaily.com

‘Neil Diamond on steroids’ in store for Vail Valley

Caramie Schnell
Vail Valley, CO Colorado
Special to the Vail DailyThe lead singer of tribute band Super Diamond says it covers the hits of Neil Diamond in a style that blends AC/DC and Depeche Mode

VAIL VALLEY, Colorado –Cracklin’ Rose. Sweet Caroline. Forever in Blue Jeans.

Some people may have groaned when Neil Diamond’s honeyed-yet-gruff voice came on the radio way back when. But now, from the first few notes, those same songs yank you back into childhood, or where ever you might have been when you first heard it. At least that’s what Randy Cordero thinks.

“I think Neil Diamond songs are in the soundtrack of our lives,” said Cordero, a.k.a. “Surreal Neil,” the lead singer of Super Diamond. “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.”

Once again, Beaver Creek hosts the Neil Diamond cover band for a free show Saturday afternoon starting at 4:30 p.m. The band played at Oktoberfest a few years back.

“I remember the guys in their little green outfits dancing around with beer steins,” said Cordero, who sounds more like Neil Diamond than resembles him – except of course for the bell bottoms and sequined shirts he sports during concerts.

And while Neil Diamond songs and Oktoberfest don’t necessarily go hand in hand, the band’s high-energy show is a good fit for the beer-drinking-brat-eating occasion, said Tony O’Rourke, the executive director of the Beaver Creek Resort Company.

“They’re always a hit,” O’Rourke said. “We’ve had them before and they’ve always been fabulously received. Without a doubt, they’re the No. 1 Neil Diamond cover band in the country and they’re a great act.”

In the past the same musical act has performed both days of Oktoberfest, but this year the resort company went a new direction. BeatleMania Live!, a Beatles tribute band, will perform a free show on Sunday from 4:30 to 6 p.m. It’s the band’s first time performing in the area, O’Rourke said.

“Hopefully everyone who comes up on Saturday will come back up Sunday,” he said. “BeatleMania is a real novelty and all the folks we’ve talked to just rave about them.”

Cordero first heard Neil Diamond when he was an 11-year-old growing up in a small town in Northern California.

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

When Cordero hit high school though, Neil wasn’t nearly as cool, and that eight-track got bumped to the back of the drawer in favor of AC/DC and Van Halen until he rediscovered it in 1989.

“I hadn’t heard a lot of his songs in over 10 years, and when I started buying the CDs again and hearing those old 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. We played Portland, then L.A. and out to Denver and now 16 years later we’re all over the country.”

And twice during a three-month period spanning 2000 and 2001, Cordero and the other band members got a chance to meet, and sing, with the man himself. The first time, Diamond showed up at a Super Diamond concert at Hollywood’s House of Blues.

“Luckily he came back to meet us before the show and I asked him if he wanted to come out and sing a song with us … He came out for the encore and sang ‘I Am, I Said.’ It was great, like a dream come true.”

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 his much hipper, much younger progeny.

Fans looking to hear only Diamond’s weepier ballads should probably stay home. Cordero has called the band “Neil Diamond on steroids,” and the group sticks mostly to the pre-’82 Diamond tunes that lend themselves to revelry. And the band isn’t a straight tribute band, trying to recreate the songs exactly how Diamond did them, either.

“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.

That’s not to say there won’t be a few cheesy tunes on the set list.

“It’s good to have some cheesy songs. They put big smiles on people’s faces.”

High Life editor Caramie Schnell can be reached at 970-748-2984 or cschnell@vaildaily.com.

What: Super Diamond performs at Oktoberfest

Where: Beaver Creek Plaza

When: 4:30 to 6 p.m. Saturday

Cost: Free

More information: Visit http://www.beavercreek.com or call 970-845-9090

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