Even before Rick Rubin took him back to basics on 2005’s 12 Songs, Neil Diamond had cachet with music snobs, who knew that the man had written a ton of timeless singer-songwriter classics before veering into more adult-contempo stuff in the ’80s and ’90s. (The 1974 collection His 12 Greatest Hits is pretty much bulletproof.) Diamond played some of those classics last month during what was—shockingly—his first performance in his hometown of Brooklyn.
Considering the guy has been playing for 50 years at this point, it’s crazy to think he never had a show in his home borough, but the setting helped make up for it: Erasmus Hall High School, the venerated Brooklyn institution that has produced alumni like Barbra Streisand, Marky Ramone, Mae West, and the guy who played Ralph Malph. Diamond attended the school in the ’50s, and as he told the small audience during a secret show in the school’s auditorium, he developed his first interest in music in those halls.
Diamond played a 10-song set heavy on the hits (“Forever in Blue Jeans,” “Cracklin’ Rose,” “Love on the Rocks,” and, yes, “Sweet Caroline”) along with two songs from the new Melody Road. Check out “Solitary Man” below. Diamond kicks off a new tour at the end of February.