Hello, my friends – Diamond on way

In the words of Sweet Caroline, the good times will never seem so good as they will for Neil Diamond fans in March.

The man behind a swag of hits including Sweet Caroline, Cracklin’ Rosie, Solitary Man and Cherry Cherry, will perform on March 4 at Wellington’s Westpac Stadium.

Diamond, whose new album Dreams is released next week, last played to 33,000 at the stadium in March 2005. Tickets then cost between $60 and $100.

The cost of tickets to next year’s concert, which go on sale on November 9, is still to be announced.

“The audiences down there are spectacular and any performer wants to get in front of an audience like that. That’s what it’s all about,” Diamond told The Dominion Post from Los Angeles.

His 2008 album Home Before Dark went straight to No 1 in New Zealand, the United States and Britain. It was his first No1 album in New Zealand in 30 years.

But Diamond said he had not thought much about its success. “I have honestly not paid attention to where the songs land on the charts. I’m basically trying to make the best album I can and hope that it’s received well.”

Home Before Dark was Diamond’s second album produced by former Beastie Boys DJ Rick Rubin, who also produced Dreams. Rubin produced the last albums of Johnny Cash.

Critics said Diamond’s collaboration with Rubin, like Rubin’s with Cash, had resulted in the musician’s best work since the 70s.

“We met, we liked each other and little by little we began the project and it was hard work and a lot of fun at the same time,” Diamond said. “I think it’s a terrific combination and collaboration.”

Rubin is known for encouraging established musicians to pare back how they usually record to get to the heart of a song.

“Rick never made many suggestions, but he made choices in his own mind as to how he might want to do a song. I’m open to any possible input I can get because basically I’m working alone.”

Diamond said songs from his latest albums would be part of his Wellington show, as well as his best-known hits.

He was rapt at being nominated last month for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but had not thought about whether he would be accepted. “I’m just going to enjoy the moment”

Diamond let fans know about his nomination via social network Twitter. “I wanted to try Twitter and it works very well for me.

“As a songwriter you have very few words to work with and it seemed like the right canvas to work on to keep people in touch with what I’m doing and point out some interesting things that I pick on along the way.”

Diamond will also perform at Vector Arena in Auckland on February 26 and 28.

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