We were in Auckland – the whole family – for my brother’s graduation. I was at uni in Wellington and had flagged seeing Santana on the Thursday night on the promise I’d get to go to them on Friday in Auckland. I drove up from Wellington to Hawke’s Bay on Thursday. And then straight in the car again Friday morning and up to Auckland. The promise of a Santana ticket was not kept and I found myself at the movie The Birdcage. As far as silver medals go that’s one hell of a fucking dud. Pretty much just a spaghetti tin lid wrapped in tinfoil – a piece of string tied around it. I was gutted.
But the next night – we, that was all of us, me and my brother, my mum and dad – went to Neil Diamond. We didn’t go to a lot of shows together as a whole family and this might have been the last – I’m not sure who had the idea that Neil Diamond was a must-see but someone selected it for us, whether my brother or my father. Growing up Neil Diamond was never forced on us, we didn’t really hear his music at all, no one owned the albums in our house is what I mean – we knew most of the best-known songs because they were everywhere for a while. And then a bit later on my dad got quite hooked on one of the double-CD compilations, but this was after we’d left home.
I’m really glad we did go though – I’d probably have never gone otherwise, and I loved it. A big show – Neil this great performer, this wonderful songwriter. And when he needed to really ham it up he did. And he could sell that stuff – it’s music as evangelism. He fucking nails it. A strange talent – to look at him, to even listen to him now you might wonder how someone like that ever became so famous, had so many hits. But line ‘em up. Those hits. They’re gold. Huge hits. And that’s exactly what he does – lines ‘em up and plays ‘em through for the crowd. Be very suspicious of anyone that tells you have absolutely no time for Neil Diamond. They’re hiding something. And there’s no need for guilty pleasures.
Stubs is an occasional feature here at Off The Tracks – looking back through the ticket-stub box and remembering how the show went down.