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Neil Diamond: The Thank You Australia Concert — Live 1976 (DVD Review)

29 Jun, 2008 By: Dan Bennett

Neil Diamond

Street 7/1/08
Eagle Rock/Kayos
$19.98 DVD
Not rated.

A trip to the dentist or a Neil Diamond concert? I'll take the Neil Diamond concert!

Others may not feel the same. Diamond has long been a source of contention for some rock fans who consider his showy, glitzy performances more about style than substance.In this 1976 Sydney concert ending a wildly successful Down Under tour, though, Diamond engages despite his occasional overkill. His catchy, heartfelt songs, however self-absorbed, manage to upstage his glittery theatrics and rock-god persona.

So when a youngish Diamond — already a live performer for a decade by the time of this concert — launches into pop power ballads such as “Solitary Man,” “Cherry, Cherry,” “I Am I Said” and “Sweet Caroline,” it's easy to get caught up in the nostalgia, and in Diamond's charisma as a performer.

Dusting his set with occasional forays into Aboriginal and other regional musical styles, Diamond connects with this audience, though the title's audio doesn't emphasize the background musicians and vocalists enough.

No big deal, as this is Diamond's show. It still is, even in 2008, the veteran performer now well into his fourth decade as a touring phenomenon. Diamond's recent album, the Rick Rubin-produced Home Before Dark, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Charts.

Extras on Neil Diamond: The Thank You Australia Concert include a 50-minute interview with Diamond conducted at the time of the concert, an introduction by TV personality David Frost and a photo gallery.

Whether or not Diamond floats your boat, his form of rock poetry enjoys big meaning for his legions of fans, and the Thank You Australia concert reminds us why.

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