Live 1976: The Thank You Australia Concert (DVD)

Neil Diamond

Eagle Vision, 2008

REVIEW BY: David Bowling


Neil Diamond stopped touring in 1972, citing burnout. This downtime allowed him to produce some of the best selling albums of his career: Moods, Jonathan Livingston Seagull, Serenade, and Beautiful Noise were all released within a four-year period.

Diamond returned to the concert stage in 1976 with a short tour of Australia. His 1972 album, Hot August Night, had been the best selling release in Australian history up until then and had spent twenty-six weeks in the number-one position on their national music charts.

The response to Diamond’s series of concerts was so overwhelming that as a thank-you to his Australian fans, he decided to broadcast the final concert live on television. 38,000 fans turned out for this event and millions more watched the program at home. This monumental concert has now been released thirty-two years later as my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Live 1976: The Thank You Australia Concert.

Live 1976 finds a young, thin, and in shape Neil Diamond at the top of his game. His voice was in much better condition, being as it has three decades less wear-and-tear than it does today. The song selection is excellent, mixing his early rock and pop hits with his latest adult contemporary material. Diamond had also not yet tired of singing such songs as “Solitary Man,” “Cherry Cherry,” “Sweet Caroline,” “Holly Holy,” and “Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show,” and here they are presented with energy and enthusiasm. It is also nice to hear such 1970’s material as “Longfellow Serenade,” “The Last Picasso,” and “I’ve Been This Way Before.” The middle part of the show is given over to a seven-song suite from Jonathan Livingston Seagull. Personally, I’ve never been a fan of this immensely popular album, but to each their own, as the audience reaction is positive.

A real strength of this DVD release is the package itself. There is an excellent booklet that provides a short history of Diamond’s career up until that point. The sound and video are also very clear, which is a pleasant surprise for a decades old television show.

My main complaint is that the instrumental backing sounds a little thin at times. It is nice to see Diamond still playing the guitar at this point in his career, but he could have used another guitarist or keyboardist to provide a fuller backing sound. I also could have gone without his constant patter between many of the songs; it ranges from self serving to just plain annoying.

All in all, Live 1976 should please the many fans of Neil Diamond. It is a very good historical document of an artist about to embark on the most productive era of his long career.

Rating: B

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© 2008 David Bowling and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Eagle Vision, and is used for informational purposes only.