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So good, so good, so good!

July 28, 2008

by Jen Bakken

Neil Diamond has a voice so distinct that even if you can’t see him, whether he is singing or talking, one knows it’s him.

Kicking off his 37-city North American tour with two nights in St. Paul, one would never guess Mr. Diamond is 67 years old.

The fact that this music maker is older than my dad sure didn’t faze me, or stop me from attending his concert, or from cheering, dancing, and singing along.

While waltzing into the Xcel Energy Center, for the Sunday night show, I couldn’t help but feel unusually safe. After living in Delano for the past 23 years, I’m not much of a city person, and can easily become uncomfortable going much past Ridgedale Mall in Minnetonka.

Attending rock concerts, being caught in the middle of a mosh pit, or just walking through huge crowds can make me nervous. Nothing about being at my first Neil Diamond concert, with his 16,000-plus adoring fans, made me nervous.

I did suffer a bit of teasing, leading up to the concert, from my friends (who told me to be careful of walkers and oxygen tanks in the Diamond mosh pit), but the laugh is on them – this was a fun night, and coming home without bruises is a big bonus in my book.

After reading a review by Star Tribune pop music critic Jon Bream, I was confused.

His review of the first concert, titled, “A trimmer, hipper Diamond leaves too much of the fun out” almost irritated me, but his review of the second show entitled, “For fans, forever Diamond means forever fun” seemed rather contradictory.

Then again, what do I know really? I’m not a pop music critic – I’m just a mom who happens to know, for a fact, that Neil. Diamond can help me get the housework done in a hurry.

Put on the song “Forever in Blue Jeans” and my laundry is folded in a flash. Singing along to “Crunchy Granola Suite” with lyrics like, “I got a song been on my mind, and the tune can be sung, and the words all rhyme, Deede-ee deet deet deet deet deet deet deedle dee dee” will keep my mind off my least favorite job of cleaning the bathroom.

My children run to their rooms and shut their doors when they hear Neil Diamond’s greatest hits album because they know, “Look out – mom’s in a cleaning mood!”

No, I’m not a music critic or a musician, but I do know a fun time and, for me, Mr. Diamond didn’t leave too much of the fun out.

Actually, much to the contrary – for 67 years old, this man was awesome!

I do wonder how old this Jon Bream is, and would love to see him sell as many albums, or put on as many great concerts as Diamond – who, by the way, is the oldest male artist to headline a major arena tour, according to Bream’s column.

Taking the stage, Neil looked surprisingly young, with his dark clothing and dark hair, although, it was difficult to see him unless the lights were on him. The band was incredible, Diamond’s voice was amazing, and the sound couldn’t have been better.

He didn’t run all over the stage in the typical front man fashion, but he did dance a little, and definitely kept the crowd entertained.

When Neil began “Sweet Caroline,” I could barely contain my excitement.

The audience went crazy shouting, “So good, so good, so good!” back at him. He really was “so good.”