Sunday, July 22, 2018
Features and More

Review: Pop icon Neil Diamond still delivers in Tampa concert

TAMPA — Neil Diamond raised a superheroic eyebrow, lifted a hand with slow magician's intensity and intoned: "We're here to make some beautiful noise tonight." Then, punctuating his delivery as only the William Shatner of rock can, he asked the Tampa Bay Times Forum crowd, "Can you handle it?"

Haha! I love that guy! At 71 years old, one of the greatest songwriters and showmen, in the history of popsmanship can still deliver all the ham and cheese and gooey sing-along goodness you crave. Dressed in a sparkly black jacket (natch) and backed by a crack 14-piece band, Diamond packed his two-hour Sunday show with hit after hit, crescendo after crescendo.

Money in the bank, baby.

At one point, Diamond commenced I'm a Believer as a slow pained ballad, but at the risk of robbing the 12,382 diehards here from their giddy expectations, he set his band loose midway through and ended the song just like God and the Monkees intended: as a scooty good-time jam.

Diamond built his setlist the same way he wrote his classic cuts: a tingly beginning (Soolaimon), a frisky bridge (Done Too Soon) and then the big payoff (Forever in Blue Jeans, Love on the Rocks, Play Me). His concert sound system has always been legendary in the music biz, so even those in the cheap seats got a crisp, clean show.

Making John and Mary Daly (not to mention their son, who was properly raised on this stuff) very happy, Diamond raised the volume for Crunchy Granola Suite from his 1972 live masterpiece, Hot August Night.

Diamond's true gift, and a chief reason for his career longevity, is his ability to connect, staring into the masses with those serious eyes and letting them know they're special.

For us, this nugget: "This city has the dubious honor of being the first city in the world that paid me to sing. You paid me to sing."

He added with a smile: "And I'll never forgive you."

But as the chuckles died down, he unsheathed a solemn dagger: "I was born in this city."

Wow, I believe Neil Diamond just gave me the vapors!

Rubbing our delighted faces in the depth of his songbook, Diamond kept 'em coming: the life-affirming Cherry, Cherry (which might be the perfect song), Holly Holy (pretty darn good, too) and, of course, Sweet Caroline. Sure, you think you're sick of that one — especially since the Fenway Faithful have claimed it as their own — until you hear Diamond unload that beauty in concert, reviving that chorus over and over again. "So good! So good! So good!"

So sue me: I'm man-crushing on Neil. And why not? His voice is holding up pretty well. But does it even matter? The existential pap of I Am ... I Said has always been a spoken-word doozy, and here he uttered it with presidential gravitas.

For encore versions of Cracklin' Rosie and over-the-top immigrant song America (look, there's a bald eagle on the video screen!) the jubilant crowd — old men, young women, the works — stood in fist-pumping salute.

Yep, everyone's welcome in the Neil Diamond Fan Club. And bless the shameless hall of famer for still adding to his list of true believers.

Sean Daly can be reached at [email protected] Follow @seandalypoplife on Twitter.

Comments
Bar review: Sip and smoke at Blue Torch

Bar review: Sip and smoke at Blue Torch

Well, the bad news is that Blue Torch Cigars & Winery is not actually a winery. That combination seemed too ambitious to fly under my radar, as Blue Torch had since its opening this year, and that ended up being true.While it’s a curious name for wha...
Published: 07/19/18
Three trips in one on a whirlwind tour of Ecuador

Three trips in one on a whirlwind tour of Ecuador

"Why Ecuador?" I was asked that at least a dozen times when I told folks I had booked a short trip to the South American country. At the time, the answer was that my husband, who has an Indian passport, didn’t need a visa to visit Ecuador and...
Published: 07/19/18
The house featured in the ‘The Brady Bunch’ hits the market for $1.885 million

The house featured in the ‘The Brady Bunch’ hits the market for $1.885 million

There could soon be a new owner for one of the U.S.’s most iconic Hollywood homes.The house that’s featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch is now up for sale.Its asking price? A cool $1.885 million, the Los Angeles Times reports...
Published: 07/19/18
Paul Reiser, coming to Clearwater, talks about returning to standup and never winning an Emmy

Paul Reiser, coming to Clearwater, talks about returning to standup and never winning an Emmy

When Paul Reiser returned to standup comedy a few years ago, younger comics couldn’t figure him out. "All the younger comics would say, ‘Are you doing a special?’ I’d go no," said Reiser, 62. "‘What, are you getting rea...
Published: 07/19/18
Local craft beer of the week: Good For Life gluten-reduced Kölsch, Pair O’ Dice Brewing

Local craft beer of the week: Good For Life gluten-reduced Kölsch, Pair O’ Dice Brewing

For many sufferers of celiac disease, going out for a pint typically means ordering a cider. But brewers have worked hard to provide a reasonable analog for gluten-free drinkers, offering a range of brews produced from grains like sorghum and rice.Mo...
Published: 07/19/18
What’s on stage this week: Hawk & Wayne does politics, Opera Tampa toasts Gilbert & Sullivan

What’s on stage this week: Hawk & Wayne does politics, Opera Tampa toasts Gilbert & Sullivan

OPEN SEASON: TRUST METwo candidates will square off Friday to debate one of the hottest topics of the political season: immigration. You can see them in action at the First Unity Spiritual Campus, where you also may spot campaign staffers, managers a...
Published: 07/18/18
Updated: 07/19/18
Nitally’s set to reopen at a new, more intimate, South Pasadena location

Nitally’s set to reopen at a new, more intimate, South Pasadena location

Folks who have missed testing their taste buds with a St. Petersburg eatery’s famous inferno soup will get a chance to do so once again.Nitally’s ThaiMex Cuisine, which closed its downtown St. Petersburg location in May, will open soon in a smaller l...
Published: 07/18/18
You won’t have to pay hundreds to see Springsteen on Broadway thanks to Netflix

You won’t have to pay hundreds to see Springsteen on Broadway thanks to Netflix

NEW YORK — Put away your wallet — you won’t have to pay hundreds of dollars to see Bruce Springsteen’s Broadway show. Netflix announced Wednesday that it will broadcast the Boss’ one-man show on Dec. 15, his last performance. Springsteen on Broadway ...
Published: 07/18/18
Tampa Bay is a perfect place to make your own food tour. Here are our suggestions.

Tampa Bay is a perfect place to make your own food tour. Here are our suggestions.

There are many good reasons to eat at four or five places in one night. A near overwhelming number of new restaurants in the Tampa Bay area can provoke anxiety in a certain kind of diner, the one who wants to try everything but doesn’t have th...
Published: 07/18/18
Food tours offer an informative, and delicious, look at different areas of Tampa Bay

Food tours offer an informative, and delicious, look at different areas of Tampa Bay

There is a running list on my phone of restaurants to try. A romantic evening at St. Petersburg’s Reading Room. The Safety Harbor double date night, so we can finally take our friends to Pizzeria Gregario. Splurging on the chef’s tasting ...
Published: 07/18/18