Review: Neil Diamond sings hit after hit at Denver show
DENVER — Sporting a beard and sparkly black pants, Neil Diamond proved that at 74, “he’s still got it”: namely his deep voice coupled with the swagger and charm that makes the ladies swoon. At least that seemed to be the overarching sentiment overhead from at least four different women who giddily shrilled those words as they exited Denver’s Pepsi Center Sunday night.
With his trademark voice in great form, Diamond moved around the stage for the hour-and-45-minute show, working the audience and showcasing his sense of humor as he sang hit after hit.
“It does wonderful things for a man’s ego to hear thousands of women screaming my name. It makes me feel like I’m 70 again,” quipped Diamond who started the show with “I’m A Believer,” a song he wrote and The Monkees performed. The Pepsi Center looked to be at around 90 percent capacity for the show, which closed out the North American leg — 29 shows — of Diamond’s 2015 world tour.
The stage featured a screen in the shape of a big diamond right behind the 13-person back-up band. Longtime band member King Errisson’s conga drum solo was a highlight of the night, as were Diamond’s back-up singers — the famous Water Sisters — who rocked killer legs and a wide octave range.
While most of the crowd likely qualified for AARP, there were folks of all ages present, proving Diamond’s cross-generational appeal. The 20-something sitting next to us “got into” Neil Diamond in college, she said and bonded with her college roommate over his tunes.
Diamond picked up the guitar on the fifth song, joining his band for “Kentucky Woman,” which is about the same time the audience really started to belt out the words along with him.
‘PASSIONS OF THE HEART’
And then it was time for a love song. No one does a love song quite like Diamond. He introduced “Play Me” by saying: “This song is a love song and I’ve been accused of writing too many love songs, but what are you going to write about … sneakers? You have to write about the passions of the heart.”
The song certainly showcases Diamond’s songwriting prowess: “You are the sun, I am the moon; You are the words, I am the tune; Play me.” The audience loved it.
Diamond urged people to get up and dance, admitting how much he loves to dance and saying, “It’s even more fun when people dance with me. Ladies and gentlemen, this is our time. Don’t hurt yourself now,” before launching into “Red, Red Wine,” his own song, yes, but he sang it as a UB40 cover, which was pretty impressive,
Another highlight of the evening came during the very personal song “Brooklyn Roads,” when Diamond shared some black-and-white 8mm home movies from his childhood. Footage of two grinning boys — him and his brother — sledding and playing in the snow, swimming and catching baseballs played in the background as Diamond sat down for the first time of the evening. The audience cheered loudly, clearly touched by the personal nature of the presentation.
The ever-peppy “Forever in Blue Jeans” got everyone up and out of their seats and clapping and singing, followed by “Cherry, Cherry,” and the introduction of his band.
To start his encore, Diamond dished out the fantastic one-two punch: “Cracklin’ Rose” followed by “Sweet Caroline,” which had everyone out of their seats, grinning, singing together at the top of their lungs while waving their arms in the air. It was one big happy sing-a-long, exactly as you’d hope a Neil Diamond concert to be.