herald

Thursday 16 August 2018

Diamond sparkles despite the silliness

My, Neil, what a terrific suit you're wearing. Is that glitter on your jacket, yes? Very stylish, indeed.

But what is it that you hope to come away with tonight, eh? Do you think it's wise for a man your age to be swiping a bottle of beer from a nearby punter? Actually, that was kind of cool. But the shaking of the hips is not good for the image, man. At least, not anymore.

Still, for a 70-year-old dude, I have to hand it to you -- you really love what you do. We can see it in your eyes; that cheeky grin as you tell the good people of Ireland that our recessionary woes are, in a way, like kidney stones. Yep, it'll all pass, lads -- the Diamond fella has faith.

Sure, there are plenty of reasons why I shouldn't have liked this one. For a start, it's cringeworthy stuff; the kind of concert where every ounce of so-called spontaneity is so obviously scripted that it's difficult not to sit there and giggle the whole way through. My God, it's like every sing-along, Saturday night in the middle of nowhere, Guinness-fuelled pub gig I've ever witnessed, all rolled up into one shiny, state-of-the-art, stadium-sized extravaganza.

FAULTS

Then again, the smiling New Yorker is, without a doubt, a true professional; a master of the big stage -- in short, an extremely likeable performer. With a good set of pipes on him, too, not to mention a marvellous band of musicians at his side.

He's well aware of the silliness -- he has to be -- and, in taking it all in his stride, he conjures up something that not even his toughest critics could have predicted. That is, that for all of its faults, this is still a surprisingly entertaining show. One that begins with our very own Mary Byrne (whose voice/personality/songs fared well given the massive task at hand) and ends with an enthused Neil sharing with us how he has seen the light (I've Been This Way Before).

Along the way, we have crowd favourites such as Forever In Blue Jeans, Red Red Wine and two separate versions of the infectious I'm A Believer. However, presenting to a rapturous audience an extended rendition of 1969's Sweet Caroline was way beyond the call of duty. Seriously, Neil -- the half a dozen extra choruses weren't necessary. But I guess it's just another example of the passion this guy still has for his job; the kick that he gets out of singing these songs night after night. Two hours later and it's all over. But don't cry, for he'll sing his song once again. Maybe it'll be next summer. Or in five years. But one thing is for sure -- there are still plenty of miles left on the clock. HHHII

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