REVIEW: Neil Diamond, Manchester Arena

Neil Diamond
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Fans will already be counting the days until musical legend Neil Diamond hits Blackpool.

And after a taster of what’s to come at Blackpool FC, I’d say I’m among them.

The 74-year-old brought a capacity crowd at Manchester Arena to its feet throughout the two-hour show, mixing the upbeat with ballads at almost every turn.

His solo show backed by a top-notch band, and no support act, tracked his lengthy career including a nod to recent album Melody Road - with a stronger country feel and a brave admission that it’s not perhaps what the fans were there to hear.

Admittedly, I didn’t actually know that many tracks - I know, where have I been? - but it was a treat to hear familiar hits, made famous by acts such as The Monkees and UB40 but written by Diamond, I’m A Believer and Red Red Wine... Who knew?

While his voice may not be as strong as it once was, there were plenty of awkward breaks in the upper register during the first few tracks, as the night went on, it just got better and better.

By the time he turned to songs like Song Sung Blue, Forever in Blue Jeans and the Hot August Night album, the arena was rocking.

Come the rapturous ovation, it was clear one song was missing from the set, the rhythm of Sweet Caroline even seemed to ring in the applause - with a rousing encore sating both ‘dia-hard’ fans’ and this newcomer’s appetite. The sight of thousands of folk, all singing along under a light show to rival the Illuminations, really does promise something special at Bloomfield Road.

I’ll admit it, I’ve been converted, I’m A Believer in a great showman who gives his fans exactly what they want.

* Neil Diamond, Blackpool FC, Bloomfield Road, Thursday, July 23. Call 0844 888 9991 to book.