Over the years, I have probably listened to Neil Diamond’s “Hot August Night” album hundreds of times. The Prologue, which leads into “Crunchy Granola Suite” has always struck me as one great piece of music. I had wondered if in 2005 he would sound anything like he did in 1972 when he recorded “Hot August Night” with that absolutely gorilla stompin’ band.
True to his fans, he opened with the “Prologue – Crunchy Granola Suite” and was backed by a killer band, some its members having been with him for thirty years. The band consisted of two guitars (seriously good players), bass, drums, piano, synthesizer, Latin percussion (this guy played his ass off), and a four-piece ass-kickin’ brass section (and three women backup singers).
From there, it was one great song after another. He played just about all the songs anyone familiar with his music would want to hear. (I did, however, miss “Solitary Man” and “I Got a Feelin’). It would be difficult to pick any single tune that I liked the best (maybe “Sweet Caroline” or “I Am … I Said), but “Play Me” and, of course, “America” were definite crowd pleasers.
Speaking of the audience, this was definitely not a “puke in the bathroom” crowd. There was lots of gray hair to be seen, which matched quite well with my salt and pepper (becoming saltier by the day) great farookin’ hair. Notably, it appeared that everyone in the audience had either given up “herbs” or left them at home stashed among their tie-dyed shirts and Sgt. Pepper albums. Then again, maybe the absence of the typical “medicinal” plume that one usually experiences at concerts was because one can’t light up anything indoors in New York City these days – even in bars (one has to go to Jersey to smoke).
If you ever were a Neil Diamond fan, and his world tour** will be anywhere near you, I recommend that you get yourself a ticket. However, a word to the Forty-Somethings and older – Go light on the pre-concert beer, as there is no intermission.
Oh, and one more thing. There was no politics — just good music. Thank you, Mr. Diamond.