Concert Review

Posted: June 19, 2012 in Neil Diamond, Weight loss

Neil Diamond – Wells Fargo Center – Philadelphia, PA – June 18, 2012

Neil Diamond proved that a 70-year-old man can still rock the house. During his 150 minute set at the Wells Fargo Center, he played without an intermission and without an opening act. And the audience went nuts.

The band came out and started playing a track with an African feel, lots of percussion and flute. The track quickly morphed into Soolaimon when Neil hit the stage and it really set the tone for the evening. Most of the evening was devoted to the all-time Diamond hits. Some highlights would be a double shot of I’m a Believer, which he ran through as a ballad, then proceeded to play again, in its more recognizable uptempo version. He also performed Cherry, Cherry, and turned it into a band feature. He closed the regular set with Sweet Caroline, followed by I Am… I Said. After a brief break (3 minutes or so) Neil came back with a different jacket and launched right into Cracklin’ Rosie, America (which he dedicated to his grandmother), Brother Love’s Travelling Salvation Show and finished with I’ve Been this Way Before.

It’s seems unbelievable that it’s been 40 years since he recorded Hot August Night at the Greek Theater. He performed a selection of songs from that classic concert, including Crunchy Granola Suite, Morningside and crowd favorite Holly Holy.

Diamond’s band is certainly tight, as you might expect from people playing together for over 30 years. And the core members aren’t young. Drummer Ron Tutt is 74, and the other guys (and gals) aren’t much younger. It’s nice that Diamond is quick to credit the band and his concerts usually contain a song for the band to showcase their skills. The prior tour that I caught, in support of his Three Chord Opera album, had the band taking a little known song from Diamond’s Heartlight album called Starflight, and bringing down the house at Reading, PA’s Sovereign Center.

Perhaps the only low note of the show was You Don’t Bring Me Flowers. The song was originally recorded as a duet with Barbra Streisand and it makes it hard for anyone to match up. Diamond’s backup singer, Linda Press, just didn’t sing it with the same amount of skill as Streisand would’ve done.

As enjoyable as the show was, the usual issues I have with attending a show were in full evidence. First off, $20 to park. Sadly, I actually paid $30 to park for a Jimmy Buffett show. I understand that the venue operators need to make their cash, but if they are going to screw you on parking, the least they could do would be to maybe NOT charge $5.00 for a medium (20 oz) fountain beverage. The prices make Disney prices seem reasonable. I won’t even get into the price of watered-down, pissy tasting beer. Diamond T-shirts and souvenirs were selling briskly in the concourse as well, at typical merchandise prices like $25-$35 for a t-shirt.

The Diamondheads rise for the National Anthem… aka Sweet Caroline

My other complaint is that the seating itself is not designed for a person of size. I’m very lucky I was on the end of the row… had I been shoehorned into the middle of a row, it would’ve been even worse. Not only for me, but the folks on either side. It really pointed out just how far I need to go in terms of weight loss. I’ve made some progress, but it would be nice to actually fit in a seat.

In short, helluva concert that I would gladly see again. I only hope that he  keeps making music.

  1. Robert says:

    Saw Neil in DC at the Verizon Center…for the 53rd time…NO, I’M NOT KIDDING.It makes my wife happy so I take whenever he’s close. One thing..he said during the concert, referring to his new wife, she would “cut my balls off” if he did anything more than look at other women. Neil!! My wife was really taken back by that. But we will be boarding a plane in August to catch him in Vegas on Sept 1st, so she wasn’t too offended.

  2. Kurt Smith says:

    It’s not just you Brian. The seats are way too small at Wells Fargo, and you’d think if they were going to build a supposedly state-of-the-art arena that they’d make the seats just a tad bigger and have some more leg room. I didn’t think the Spectrum was great, but it sure wasn’t worth demolishing for this joint.

    Did Neil do “Forever in Blue Jeans”? Always liked that one…

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