On a warm and sunny evening thousands of Diamond diehards converged on the home of Ipswich Town Football Club to witness a triumphant performance by one of pop music's true legends.
|Neil Diamond fans|
The hits might have dried up long ago but the Brooklyn-born singer songwriter still has a huge following on both sides of the Atlantic. He lives the American dream and clearly still enjoys an audience eating out of the palm of his hand (but then who wouldn't!).
Diamond's two hour show contained most of his hits although there was no "Song Song Blue". He was after all playing at the home of the Super Blues so that was a little disappointing but then I'm told that he hadn't performed it on previous visits to these shores so it came as no great shock to his fans.
Predictably enough the anthem "Sweet Caroline" got the biggest response with 17,000 people contributing to the biggest karaoke session ever seen in Ipswich!
Other highlights were a rousing "America" from "The Jazz Singer" movie, a touching rendition of "You Don't Bring Me Flowers" featuring one of his backing singers in the role of Barbra Streisand and a video enhanced sequence of songs from what remains his best album "Jonathan Livingston Seagull".
|A happy concert-goer|
We even had the man rapping on "Red Red Wine" but nothing to make 50 Cent, Kanye West or Eminem quake in their boots.
For me the best musical moments were when Diamond strapped on an acoustic guitar and went back to his New York coffee bar roots. He seemed at his most comfortable on his early material and it was during that part of the show we heard his backing band of 30 years at their very best.
Diamond's been working with rock producer Rick Rubin in recent months. The album they've made should be out in the autumn and I reckon Rubin could do for Neil Diamond what he did for Johnny Cash - make him hip again!
|A good night!|
Mind you it could be argued that Diamond has never exactly been trendy but with a following as big and loyal as his it's never mattered.
Diamond is 64-years-old but has retained the same voice and looks that made him a household name well over three decades ago. The man's got class and it was a privilege to see a music icon still at the top of his game.