Still Sparkling: At 67, Diamond shines in concert still

After 40-plus years in the music business, Neil Diamond has sold more than 125 million records worldwide.

He’s had 36 Top 40 hits, a Grammy award and a Golden Globe award, but his most recent CD, “Home Before Dark,” is his first No. 1 album.

Since its release in May, “Home Before Dark” has sold more than 500,000 copies, becoming a certified gold CD.

Incidentally, with this CD, Diamond, who is 67, became the oldest artist to have a No. 1, surpassing Bob Dylan who was 65 when his CD “Modern Times” hit the Top Spot in 2006.

“Frankly, it came as a surprise to me when I was told that this was my first No. 1,” Diamond said during a teleconference with music critics. “I thought I had one or two before this. So, it’s nice to have that little milestone. (And) honestly, I never paid much attention to it. It doesn’t do any good to have a No. 1 record that stinks. (So) even more important, I was very pleased with the way the album came out.”

Diamond praised producer Rick Rubin, who has worked with everyone from Slayer to Metallica to Johnny Cash and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, for getting “Home Before Dark” to sound the way it does.

“Rick is not the type of producer that’s there in your face all the time,” said Diamond, who worked with Rubin on his previous CD, “12 Songs,” which was released in 2005. “He was more an objective observer, and it was very helpful to everybody.”

Diamond gathered a small ensemble of musicians whom he had worked with for most of his career for the sessions.

“We had a great deal in common,” he said about the group. “And the setting was very much at ease from the beginning. So it wasn’t any kind of thing that we thought out.

“Rick may have wanted to (hark) back to the simpler days of my career when I worked with a five-piece group. He was shooting to capture that in the sessions.”

Diamond also said he didn’t have a lot of preconceived notions about how the CD was going to sound.

“We were just trying to create something wonderful, something magical and something that had the right chemistry.

“It was very intimate, very close up and it was good,” he said. “It was very relaxed, and I didn’t get a sense of any pressure to do anything other than trying to realize the song, play it for other musicians and let them in on what I saw the song as.”

Diamond said he is playing three songs from the new CD on the tour.

“They’re working very well,” Diamond said about the songs. “It’s always difficult to introduce brand-new material to an audience. There is the tendency to want to hear something you know and are familiar with.”

The set list also includes a couple of tunes from “12 Songs,” Diamond said. “So, we’ve got five relatively new songs in a set. So, it’s a big dose of new material, but the audiences have been responding beautifully to them. I’m thinking of adding one or two more as we go along.”

Performing for Diamond is a “joyful experience, and he always makes sure he’s healthy for the tour legs.

“I try my darnedest to keep myself in good shape,” he said. “I’m on a specific diet, not necessarily a weight-losing diet, but a diet that gets me the nutrients that I need to do the shows and to survive the traveling, and all that goes on behind the tour, other than two hours on stage.

“I do some physical workout. I have a trainer that I work with and I just take as good care of myself as I possibly can physically.

“Mentally, that’s up to the audience. I’m constantly working on the show making adjustments to it ?? putting songs in and taking song out and looking for that perfect chemistry, and it never stops.”

There was a time in the last leg that Diamond has to cut back a few dates, he said. “I had to take a little break before we started this (current) leg to recover from some laryngitis,” he said. “For some reason, I just lost my voice, but I took the rest. I came back and the voice is as good as ever. I’m enjoying this, but this is a pretty intense leg. There are a lot of cities, but the band and I have done this before many, many times. I’m looking forward to getting to the cities we still have yet to play.”

“I never expected that I’d be around this long,” he said. “When I first started, if you had a career that lasted two or three records, and I mean at that time that meant singles, if you had a career that lasted that long, well, that was unusual. But it’s been 42 years since ‘Solitary Man’ and I’m still performing. I’m still loving it.

“We want to present a great show and that’s our only goal.”

If you go …

What: Neil Diamond

Where: EnergySolutions Arena, 301 W. South Temple

When: today, 8 p.m.

How much: $27.50-$120

Phone: 325-7328


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