Neil Diamond’s old songs will rule new show

Neil Diamond’s old songs will rule new show

Over three years, Neil Diamond has put out two new albums, 2005’s “12 Songs” and “Home Before Dark,” released in May.

But when it comes to concerts, it’s the old songs that dominate.

In a recent teleconference call with reporters, the 67-year-old music legend ? who performs tonight at the Qwest Center Omaha ? said he will play several songs from those recent recordings, but they’ll sound a bit different live.

“I don’t do them quite as spare, or as sparse as they are on the album, maybe with the exception of ‘Home Before Dark,'” Diamond said. “I’ve put a little Latin pizazz into ‘Pretty Amazing Grace,’ which I like a lot and it’s fun to do. The audience responds very well to them, and I like doing them.”

Still, it’s the oldies that seem to resonate most with fans ? and the singer.

“I must do ‘Brother Love,’ because it’s a summation of me and of the show. I must do ‘Sweet Caroline,’ just because I must do it. It comes with the parcel. Then there are a bunch of others. . . . I like to do ‘America.’ I don’t care which country it’s in, I’ll do ‘America,’ and, believe it or not, they love ‘America’ wherever I play it.”

His tour has a new look and feel.

“The lighting grid is different. It’s pretty impressive, I think. Basically, I’m trying to cover a lifetime of music and to be as close up to the audience as I possibly can. So the stage and the lighting and the choice of the songs that we use in the set, and the sequencing of the songs are all based on that, connecting with the audience in a way, as best I can really.”

Other comments:

On whether his songs are rooted in autobiography: “They’re an extension of who I am and who I want to be and what my aspirations are and what my failures have been, my insecurities. They are me without any question, and, for better or for worse, that’s what the songs are. I’ve finally, at this point in my life, come to realize it and not duck the issue. I just hope that they’ve been truthful, and mostly that being a member of the human race in good standing, I feel that a lot of people experience the same feelings and aspirations as I do.”

On maintaining energy onstage: “It has very little to do with me. It’s the audience. They establish the atmosphere and the ambience, and I only reflect it, and when they’re happy, I’m happy, and when they’re excited, I’m excited, and I just want to do a show as well as I possibly can.”

On keeping up with trends: “I was never good enough to, because to follow a trend you have to be able to know what the trend is, you have to be able to copy it, and you have to know enough about music to be a good imitator, and I’ve never been that. I’ve always had to follow my own thing, because it was the only thing I could do.”

On deciding how much time he stays away before coming back for an encore: “With this tour I stay away from the main set for an encore just long enough to change my shirt. I have two people back there choreographed to get me out of one outfit and get me into another, and I’ve never done that before in a show where I’ve changed clothes in the body of the show. It’s pretty funny. I mean, it’s really funny. We have a lot of laughs. When they finally get me into a new shirt, there’s a lot of high-fives all around and a lot of giggles, but that determines how long it takes for me to get off and get back.”

On the future: “I’m just going to enjoy this, all the wonderful fallout from the release of ‘Home Before Dark’ and the wonderful response to the show. I’m just committed to enjoying the hell out of it and not thinking about anything else for a while. Maybe in six months from now I’ll really start to think seriously about what’s next. I have a feeling it will have something to do with music. That’s all I know.”

? Contact the writer: 444-1089,

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