Diamonds & Gold: Neil Diamond at the Golden 1 Center

Yesterday started out great: I quit my job and almost like the universe was rewarding me, my friend Mike sent me a text asking if I wanted to see Neil Diamond at the Golden 1 Arena in downtown Sacramento.

A quick side note: After much reasonable protesting, Sacramento now has its very own, taxpayer funded, shiny new arena. I was ambivalent for many reasons, but I have to say that unlike other arenas, the acoustics are actually quite decent.  The only other show I’ve been to at the Golden 1 Center was Electric Christmas, a hipster rock, millennials-only affair put on every winter by local radio station 94.7.

So the first thing we noticed last night was that every section in the stadium was open and the place was packed to the nosebleeds with avid fans.

When the band took the stage and the lights dropped, a giant 3D Diamond appeared, spinning and refracting images of Neil from the past.  The diamond screen remained throughout the performance, lighting up and bouncing images that supported the songs.

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The bandstand split with a walk down the center and when Neil emerged and started to come down front and center, Mike couldn’t resist saying, “Oh that’s nice, they gave him the old people ramp”.

Neil is 76, but he sings with the same voice as he did in 1976: his pipes are undiminished by time, his rich, sultry tone and phrasing as swoon-worthy as ever.  

He launched into Solitary Man and this crowd that easily had 20-30 years on the previous show I’d seen, erupted with such glee, it was hard to believe.

Diamond had a bit of Elvis in him in the younger days, he borrowed some showmanship from the King for sure.  But his brand of flash seems positively tame compared with younger, more modern performers.  His charisma is so powerful that all he had to do was lift a hand beatifically and the audience would rise to their feet as though they were at a megachurch.

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A couple songs in, he strolled to the side of the stage and the far right section cheered so vehemently, Neil said, “these folks are the most lively in the building, so I’m going to stay over here for this one.”  Then he sang the opening lines of Love on the Rocks. He continued to tease the other sections

His easy banter and playfulness cut up the often wistful themes of his ballads and he undulated between up tempo goodies like I’m a Believer and lonely  I am, I Said.  He is still songwriting and he managed to tuck some newer tunes into the set, one called Dry Your Eyes about the Manchester bombing.

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One of my favorite moments was Brooklyn Roads, accompanied by diamond-shaped, grainy Super8 footage of his family.  A line I deeply related to:

Mama’d come to school
And as I’d sit there softly crying
Teacher’d say, “He’s just not trying
He’s got a good head if he’d apply it”
But you know yourself
It’s always somewhere else

I built me a castle
With dragons and kings
And I’d ride off with them
As I stood by my window
And looked out on those
Brooklyn Roads1

Diamond also did something I hadn’t seen a rock star of his caliber do before: to introduce the band, he let each one of his musicians play a short, solo song of their own choosing.  His two back up singers are sisters, and his guitarist of 40 years, Richard Bennett, who helped write Forever in Blue Jeans, was on stage with his son, Nick, also on guitar.  These little showcases gave him a chance to encourage and publically thank the folks that support him.

I’m not exaggerating when I say that the entire auditorium stood and danced for Sweet Caroline, except maybe those in wheelchairs. If there was some way to gauge the energy in the room, this crown far exceeded the hipster extravaganza I mentioned.  By a long shot.

The finale was, of course, Coming to America, a tune I used to see as a bit nationalistic, but again, he managed to strike the perfect tone; the diamond screen shone old black and white images of immigrants boarding boats, waving happily from the deck, hoping for a new life.  As the son of  Jewish immigrants from Poland, it was a loving gesture, and a reminder of what actually makes America great.

Neil Diamond performed for over two hours, with such obvious relish, such candor and very little of the bravado that made him so famous.  His voice was eclipsed only by the sheer poetic vulnerability of his lyrics and that spaghetti western style that has become his signature.

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I had my doubts about the Golden 1 arena, but last night, I was so grateful for this massive, shiny venue because it was filled to the brim with eager fans who spent far less time on their phones and far more time cheering and dancing: daughters and dads, grandparents and grandchildren.  And after 50 years of writing and performing, Neil Diamond deserves a golden arena.

 

  1. Written by Neil Diamond • Copyright © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group
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Sacramento Trees: Greatest Hits

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This blog has been on ice for a bit, but I’ve been ruminating on refashioning it.  I’d like to create a resource and a laugh for other single moms like me in the Sacramento area.

But first, let’s look at some trees.  Even people who live here don’t realize that Sacramento has one of the densest tree populations in the US per capita, a fact that has recently been confirmed by a study at MIT.

I will intermittently be posting some beauties for no other reason than, you know, beauty.

You’re welcome.

 

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Norm Shriever’s Article on Huffington Post about Therapeutic Yoga

Thank you Norm, for shining a light on the beautiful work the Yoga Seed Collective is doing for all the bodies in the community. It is truly come as you are.  I’m really proud to be part of it.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/norm-schriever/the-growing-go-field-of-t_b_5956188.html

A Bygone Era: The Black & White Mastery of Robert Taylor and Charles Farmer at the Viewpoint Center

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Two living legends of the rapidly diminishing black and white film process are showing at the Viewpoint Photographic Art Center through the month of October.  I thought I would shamelessly stump for them since their work is truly exceptional in the land of selfies and GoPro.

These delicious silver prints are like magnifying glasses held up to a California that is no longer; there is a richness and lyricism that digital, in all its glory, cannot hold a candle to.  It is worth it to see these lush landscapes and nature studies in person and you can at Viewpoint Photographic Art Center in Sacramento from October 10-November 1, 2014.

Taylor will be offering his new book: Robert Taylor 40 Years.

#blackandwhite, #RobertTaylor:40years, #art,  #photography, #Sacramento

Whatever Lola Wants: Vine & Bone Blog on Food, Art and Photography

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A somewhat mythic presence in the the Sacramento art community, Lola Mo (or Lola Magnolia, as I have dubbed her) quietly absorbs, watches, tastes, documents and describes all things delicious and daring.  Not only does the woman make her own gin, she gives historic walking tours in Midtown and is a veritable fount of artful facts.

Wherever Lola goes, she leaves a faint spell in the air; people need to know who she is and what she does.  Her photographs are often poetic traces of her primal impressions.  I don’t know her very well, but I am always impressed by her vision, her painstaking aesthetic and her ravenous appetite for new concoctions.  Her blog is a litany of interesting discoveries and awakenings.  This particular page is about the creative process and feeling somewhat bogged down creatively, I took quite a bit of inspiration from it.  However, I recommend following her since she always has something beautiful to offer.  And I should warn you, I almost always come away hungry.

Vine & Bone: http://vinebone.com/2014/06/blog-tour-monday-the-creative-process/

Teaching Yoga at Sutter Center for Psychiatry through the Yoga Seed Collective

I am lucky enough to be one of the teachers in on the ground floor of a project that provides #yoga to the patients at Sutter Center for Psychiatry.  It has been an enormous challenge and a third eye-opening experience.  The #YogaSeedCollective, the non-profit that organizes the outreach effort, is a quietly powerful force in the community, offering classes at the local prisons, drug rehabilitation centers and now at Sutter.  Getting involved with this community of hardworking, no-nonsense yogis is one of the best things that has happened to me since arriving in #Sacramento.  I feel inexpressible gratitude to them, on my own behalf and on behalf of all the people they serve.  

I wrote a short piece about my experience at Sutter, you can read it here in the Yoga Seed’s Outreach update:

http://www.theyogaseed.org/outreach-article1/?utm_source=Copy+of+Newsletter+for+9%2F10&utm_campaign=Constant+Contact+Newsletter&utm_medium=email

Also, I want to say, of my own volition, how impressed I am with Sutter’s facility.  The dedication and level of understanding I see every day with the staff is awe inspiring.  I recently lost someone in my life to suicide, and while that person was not part of this community, I wonder if his situation would have changed had he access to care like Sutter provides.  If you or someone you know is suffering from mental illness, I would strongly urge you to seek help and based on my limited experience, I would not hesitate to recommend SCP.  (I have not been paid or am in any way affiliated with Sutter; I am an independent contractor through the Yoga Seed.)

To visit Sutter’s website, vist: http://www.suttermedicalcenter.org/psychiatry

#mentalhealth #mentalillness #psychiatry