Diamond sparkles on Dublin return with vintage performance

NEIL DIAMOND fans could not have picked a better night to see their hero in action at the Aviva, Dublin

NEIL DIAMOND fans could not have picked a better night to see their hero in action at the Aviva, Dublin. Saturday night wasn’t quite a hot August night, but it was a balmy June evening when Diamond took to the stage at about 8.30pm and launched into a set that consisted of 95 per cent hits, and almost 100 per cent nostalgia.

X Factorstar Mary Byrne had no problem warming up the crowd with her versions of soul hits and got a standing ovation.

If the weather was warm, the welcome from the crowd was even warmer – though he has already played in Ireland three times over the past decade, it seems the Irish aren’t suffering from Diamond fatigue just yet.

The concert was slow to sell out, and you couldn’t turn on the radio over the past month without hearing yet another ad for the gig, but come the day, MCD were happy to announce the show had reached its 40,000 capacity.


"Who'd have believed you'd all come along?" sang Diamond, slightly adjusting a line in Sweet Caroline. Once he had his crowd, he set about entertaining them with a vigour that belied his 70 years.

He descended from stage rear, dressed in black and clutching a guitar, flanked by a backing band and launched into his 1970 hit Soolaimon. He has more than enough hits to fill his two hours on stage but, for this tour, he's been revisiting some of his very early material, perhaps trying to resurrect that first flush of success he had as a young singer-songwriter. He dusted off such nuggets as Shilo, You Got To Me, Solitary Manand – a real highlight – Cherry Cherry, getting the crowd swinging like it was the 1960s again. Red Red Winewent down well, as did I'm a Believer– but they didn't quite match up to their better-known versions by UB40 and The Monkees respectively.

Inevitably, he couldn't fit all the hits in – there was no Song Sung Blue, Love on The Rocks, Desireeor (thank goodness) Heartlight. But he reprised Sweet Carolinetwice just to keep everyone sweet, and finished with a fine version of I Am . . . I Said, exiting stage left like a true solitary man.

He encored with Cracklin' Rosieand America, and closed the show with Brother Love's Travelling Salvation Show, during which he delivered a fiery preacherman sermon – or maybe it was an attack of Bono fever brought on by too many visits to Dublin.

Kevin Courtney

Kevin Courtney

Kevin Courtney is an Irish Times journalist