Musical Director: David Mackay
Performer: Fisher Stevens
In January of this year, singer/songwriting legend, Neil Diamond sadly announced his retirement from touring due to his Parkinson’s disease diagnosis. Those lucky enough to see him live (myself included) were treated to a fantastic show from a prolific songwriter, those who didn’t, missed out on something truly special. However, fear not because award-winning singer/entertainer Fisher Stevens is currently on tour with A Beautiful Noise: Celebrating the Life and Songs of Neil Diamond.
With the help of two backing singers and a seven-piece band, Stevens takes us on a journey through Diamond’s six-decade-spanning career, with such songs that included: Brooklyn Roads, Forever In Blue Jeans, and Cherry, Cherry. With a ‘glitzy’ Las Vegas gold colour set and a screen showing images from New York, Los Angles and snapshots of Diamond throughout his career, this isn’t just a tribute show, more a guide through Diamond’s career from his early days as a songwriter at the Brill Building, through to his starring role in the 1980 film, Jazz Singer.
Stevens was on fine form this evening: he has Diamond’s unique delivery nailed on. If you closed your eyes, you would be fooled into thinking you were listening to the real thing. He has clearly studied Diamonds mannerisms and stage presence to give a truly authentic performance. In addition, Stevens gives a relaxed easy-going performance filled with humour and never taking himself too seriously. His ’ unique vocal ability is firmly showcased on America, and Love on the Rocks.
The backing band were on good form, nothing flash or ‘showy’, just a good solid, tight band that could do justice to Diamond’s slower tunes as well as the more upbeat numbers, as demonstrated on songs Girl, You’ll Be A Women Soon and I’m a Believer. In addition, Samantha and Rebecca (surnames not given) add a touch of class to proceedings and both are given their own time to shine on the Diamond-penned, The Boat That I Row, and the Barbara Streisand hit: Women in Love.
Not everything in the show worked as well as it could, the use of the screen and voice-over seems unnecessary, and has more cheese than a Sunday morning makers market! The images of New York and Steven’s description and stories Diamond about upbringing and career are perfectly fine (if anything, they’ll make you want to book a trip to ‘The Big Apple’) but everything else just seems out of place. In addition, there is a misplaced cover of the Hollies:He Ain’t Heavy, He’s my Brother, (Diamond covered in 1970,) which seems shoehorned in and acts as a tribute to some of the great male vocalists, we’ve lost, however, there’s no tribute to the great female singers!
The night closes with Stevens going into the audience, high fiving, and greeting the crowd, with some of the female members lapping it up. The band sends everyone happy with cracking renditions of Cracklin’ Rosie and of course Sweet Caroline, which had everyone up on their feet. This certainly was a beautiful noise and one that will certainly does justice to Neil Diamond’s musical legacy… as well as being a fun-filled bloody good night out!
Reviewed on 17 October 2018 | Image: Contributed