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Diamond gives it emotion and grit

'JUST one thing makes me forget, that red red wine," sang Neil Diamond with a certain poignancy last night at the Aviva Stadium.

His timeless -- sometimes dark but always feelgood -- songs were just what the audience needed to help forget the current economic woes.

The 70-year-old Diamond has a voice loaded with emotion and grit and he controlled the crowd from the first moment he walked out onstage, dressed head to toe in Johnny Cash black.

I had brought my girlfriend's four-year-old son Ethan to meet the great man backstage before the show. When they were introduced, Ethan first ignored Diamond, then asked him did he know Super Mario, before running around the dressing room with his T-shirt over his head.

"I had a four-year-old like Ethan once," Diamond said with a laugh. "One time we were about to meet Princess Margaret and he started to chew the cuffs of my shirt just as the princess walked in."

He then told me that he was going to do his all to give Dublin and the Aviva a truly great show -- and he was true to his word. 'Solitary Man' made us sad, 'Forever In Blue Jeans' made us smile.

He did a dramatically slowed-down version of 'I'm A Believer'. To hear such a standard reworked into a sparse ballad was a treat that became even better when halfway through he stopped and turned it into a full-on rock stomper with two hot-stepping backing singers and a horn section.

Then he went straight into 'You Don't Bring Me Flowers Anymore'. There was no Barbra Streisand to duet with -- but there was no shortage of women in the audience to sing her part.

"Men don't have a clue what that song is about," he said afterwards. "Women get it instinctively -- but the men will hear that song and just gaze up at the stage lights and wonder 'how do they work?'"

Sunday Independent