Neil Diamond 10/01/08
Hollywood Bowl – Los Angeles, CA
Words/Videos by Justin aka concertconfessions.com
This article first appeared on MTVnews.com
Hot Autumn Nights – Neil Diamond Peforms At The Hollywood Bowl
In the magical summer of 1995, my parents needed a break from raising their two young sons. So they packed our bags and sent my younger brother and me a few hours north to the wine country of Northern California. There we spent a week with our grandparents. Many important things happened that week. We played miniature golf, sold some duck eggs to a local market and even went to Taco Bell one day for lunch. However, the most important thing I took from that week in the wine country was discovering a “new” musical artist that my grandparents turned me onto. His name was Neil Diamond. At first, the music playing on the stereo went in one ear and out the other. Being a dumb teenage only concerned with the exciting “Alternative” music scene, I wrote Neil off as old people’s music. But when I heard “Girl, You’ll be a Woman Soon”, (which I was naïve enough to think Urge Overkill wrote) something clicked, and the old people’s music quickly became my music.
Walking into the Hollywood Bowl on Wednesday night, I had goose bumps. For years, I have worshiped Neil Diamond. On one of my early visits to Los Angeles (before I moved here) I bought a star map to find his house. I went and saw the box office bomb “Saving Silverman” with him in it, and even had the pleasure to meet Neil in person once. However, watching Neil perform has always been a dream that never seemed to come true. Thankfully, George W. Bush was kind enough to give me $600 dollars earlier this year, and with that money, I bought 4 tickets to night one of his two night stay here in Los Angeles. We made it to our row just as Diamond (as he calls himself) hit the stage with “Holly Holy”. It was at this very moment, I realized I was going to be in for a concert experience like no other. As of late, I often feel like I am the oldest person at a show. Last night, I was the third youngest person inside of the sold out Hollywood Hills venue. As I tried to get to our seats, I was assaulted by a very old man. Not only did he call me fat, he grabbed my man breast. I gave him a look that said “look old dude, I realize you have had some wine, and think its fun to grab my breasts, but if you don’t stop I will rip your heart out of your chest and hit Diamond’s bass player with it.” It was at this very moment that the old man knew he had messed with the wrong amigo and probably had to change Depends old person diapers.
As Diamond commanded his stage, he was very vocal early on. He encouraged folks to sing and dance, but not to sing louder than him. He yelled at some man who kept walking along the front row taking away from his spotlight. When others showed up late, he asked if they got stuck in traffic or had to use the potty (more on potty breaks later). He mentioned how his “best known album ever” – “Hot August Nights” was recorded a few miles away at the much smaller Greek Theatre. With temps over 100 degrees in Los Angeles on Wednesday, Neil had a senior moment when he declared it a hot September night. I guess someone failed to inform Diamond that it was no longer September, and it was actually October. Diamond’s two hour performance was a well mixed set of newer songs dabbled amongst American classics. He made folks laugh by changing around the cheap LA rent line in “I Am…I Said”. “Play Me” found Neil walking into the crowd, while “Brooklyn Roads” (which may be Diamond’s most personal song) had a very heart-felt intro from the native son of New York. Neil encouraged the AARP nation seated in front of him to stand and dance, and while they managed to get up for some of his biggest hits like “I’m A Believer” mobility seemed to be a major factor for most of the crowd. The one exception being the GGILF (great grandma I’d like to… you get the idea) down the row from us who’s chest implants were probably older then me. The cougar was rocking. Likewise, I am used to seeing people at concerts wear earplugs to protect their hearing. The only thing I could see in her friends’ ear on this muggy night was a hearing aid. A different scene then I am used too indeed. The drug scene was pretty much what I expected. I overhead one man blaming his stinky gases on his addiction to Lipitor a fine pharmaceutical for the baby boomer generation. I also noticed that no one has to get up and use the restroom despite the large quanity of wine consumed. I have reason to believe this is thanks to the miracle drug Flomax. God bless it, I would have felt bad if my hard earned social security money that I will never see a dime of was spent so thousands of old dudes could miss “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” as a result of their constant going problem.
With a backing band that has been together since 1976, Diamond and crew sounded tight, and performed a highly entertaining and energetic set. “Sweet Caroline” & “America” indeed were the biggest numbers of the night. However, I can’t lie when I say I am slightly disappointed that I did not get to hear the song that turned me onto this living legend – “Girl, You’ll Be A Woman Soon”. So while I can cross seeing Neil Diamond off my own Bucket List, I suppose I will just have to go see him again in hopes to hear a song that means so much to me. If for some reason, that never happens, I am ok with it. After all, in a day and age of made for TV pop-tarts and disposable heroes, I got to see a true American Idol. I got to see Neil Diamond live in concert at the Hollywood Bowl and stimulate the down and out American economy at the same time. Life does not get much better then that.