I have been blessed twice in my life to be at the coolest place on the planet at one particular moment and somehow both experiences involved Rick Rubin. The first was Johnny Cash’s infamous Emo’s showcase at SXSW in 1994, and the second was–without a doubt–last night’s Neil Diamond Myspace Secret Show at the Bitter End in NYC.
The scene was cozy–125 of his biggest fans in the most incredibly intimate venue—not a usual Neil Diamond show, by any means. But like all Neil shows, the crowd was brimming with fanatical Neil-sters, those who don’t dare leave their basements unless The Diamond is on tour…very much like the scene at a DiggNation Meetup, just a little older.
The set was short and sweet, 33 minutes, 7 songs in total. The 68 year-old superstar belted out an emotionally energetic show as if he were half his age. Neil kicked off the show with a most amazing, acoustic Solitary Man, a song he played at the very same venue some 41 years earlier. Following a tremendous applause, he followed with a trio of obligatory, unknown tracks from the new album Home Before Dark, which earned a fairly scanty reception. The crowd’s enthusiasm returned however, with Kentucky Woman and Cherry, Cherry and proceded to go bat sh*t nuts over the closer, Sweet Caroline.
This was perhaps simultaneously the best and worst part of the evening. The best because it was NEIL “EFF-ING” DIAMOND, in a small venue, preforming one of the greatest pop songs ever penned. The worst because Sweet Caroline has solidified itself as such a karaoke classic, that the audience could’t help but become a Sigma Chi fraternity at a sing-a-long, adding their own “Bam-bap-ba-num’s” and “So Good, So Good, So Good’s” on ever f**king chorus. Check it out for yourself.