Neil Diamond - Bloomfield Road, Blackpool
For an artist with songs like Forever In Blue Jeans, Song Sung Blue and Something Blue, the sky over Bloomfield Road was an appropriate shade for Neil Diamond.
Thousands packed into Blackpool Football Club for the star’s one night only appearance in the resort.
“#TweetCaroline” messages set the scene, as fans shared their excitement, and it was only hijacked a couple of time for a dig at the club’s owners – but Diamond’s devotees just didn’t seem to care.
Despite a publicised ‘due on stage’ time of 7.30, they also didn’t seem to mind the wait until around 8pm, when the legend stepped out in front of his superb 11-piece band.
I’m A Believer got the show to a flying start, with the crowd going wild instantly.
Sauntering around the stage, under a giant red diamond-shaped screen used to great effect, it was then on to Desiree and an emotional Love On The Rocks.
“We are happy to be here tonight in Blackpool,” Neil told the fans . “I have never been here before but it seems like a really fun town, and we are here to add to that fun.
“I love the fact I can see every single person in the place, so please be very careful what you do.”
From there on in, with scarcely a pause, Diamond delivered hit after hit.
We are happy to be here tonight in BlackpoolNeil Diamond
The crowd was a mix of all ages, with ‘Dia-hard’ fans rubbing shoulders with those who only knew a handful of tracks.
Knowing his market, Diamond appealed to the ladies in the stadium, after Girl, You’ll Be A Woman Soon, saying: “I know some of you ladies are having a good time out there.
“I only wish I could join you but my wife is here tonight. I love it when girls call out my name, it’s good for my ego. It makes me think I’m 70 again.”
He certainly mixed it up through the two-and-a-half hour show, bouncing from crowd pleasing stompers like Red Red Wine and Beautiful Noise, into ballads and back.
Once more paying tribute to Blackpool’s charms – he’d certainly done his research – Diamond introduced the autobiographical Brooklyn Roads by saying Blackpool reminded him of Coney Island, the New York pleasure spot.
Fans cooed at a home video to accompany this, showing the star from baby bath time to his handsome 20s.
After a selection from last year’s album Melody Road, there was a change in pace, launching into more favourites, Song Sung Blue and Forever In Blue Jeans, for the beginning of the end.
Cherry Cherry gave a chance for the band to shine, with solo moments all round.
Closing the set, with I Am… I Said, he left us wanting more... After all, you can’t go to see Neil Diamond and not bob about, hands in the air to Sweet Caroline – ‘woh, oh, oh’, and all that.
That and Cracklin’ Rosie were a fitting encore, although the tracks after these seemed to drop the mood a touch.
The bracing sea air, and Blackpool’s famously warm welcome certainly seemed to help the Bloomfield audience get right into the spirit of the night, up on their feet whenever the music called for it.
One thing’s for sure, there was plenty of love for this 100 carat gem of a superstar on Blackpool’s rocks.