Format: Tribute Show
Date: June 16 2019
Location: Empire Theatre, Liverpool
Hello Again: The Neil Diamond Story is a lavish affair with very high production values.
Even before the show began, it was clear that this was going to be a big production. When in full flow, with Brooklyn Creed singing as Diamond, and The Salvation Band and the Diaz sisters all jamming together, the stage featured a total of twelve musicians.
Creed has a fabulous voice. As excellent as the band was, his voice was actually best appreciated when he sang with just a solitary guitar. When the full band was in flow, the bass was sometimes a little too heavy and drowned out his voice at times.
Don’t expect a musical about Diamond’s life – Creed does not act out scenes from the singer’s life, but instead performs classic songs accompanied by a narrative; some recorded, and some delivered by himself.
The narrative between sets put the songs in context, but could have done with a little bit more of a story arc and insight into Diamond as a person and artist, alongside the facts about record sales (The Simon and Garfunkel Story at the Empire in January did this very effectively, albeit it had the hook of the tumultuous relationship between the two). The narrative on Diamond’s movement into world music worked well.
The show runs chronologically, meaning that a lot of the songs in the first half were more familiar to the ardent Diamond fans than those who had gone along for the later, bigger hits.
The lighting and set design was immersive in its colour and vibrancy – it had a real sense of Las Vegas about it, whether that was intended or not. A lot of thought had clearly gone into the lighting to give the feel of a live Diamond performance, and the accompanying screens were very well co-ordinated with the music.
Solitary Man, Beautiful Noise and Play Me were highlights of the first half, and Creed’s duet with Juanita Diaz of You Don’t Bring Me Flowers was a strong and engaging performance. The second half saw the bigger hits, such as those from The Jazz Singer – Hello Again, Love on the Rocks and America.
The show offered a very nice surprise in the form of a sequence of songs written by Diamond but performed by other people. As Creed took a back seat, The Salvation Band and the Diaz sisters treated us to Red, Red Wine, and Daydream Believer, reminding the audience just how prolific Diamond really is. Song Sung Blue, Cracklin’ Rose and Sweet Caroline all went down very well as the audience sang along. Altogether, it was a very slick show.
Overall, Hello Again was of a high standard, and one that I would recommend to any fans of Neil Diamond.
Overall Rating: 8/10 – Very Good