Around here, Monday 4 July was the hottest day of the year so far. When we left home to drive to Manchester, about 6.15 pm, the outside temperature was a balmy 25 degrees centigrade. The concert did not start until 8.00 pm and we thought that we had allowed ourselves plenty of time but the traffic in Manchester was heavy, which meant that it took longer than we had expected to get to the concert arena. However, we still had 30 minutes to spare. As we approached the MEN arena husband decided to ignore the sat. nav. and park in the multi storey car park next to the arena - big mistake! We had previously parked there and had managed to find a space on one of the lower floors. This time we crawled up nine floors, to the roof, before we found a space.
Joining the queue to get into the MEN arena we had the chance to observe fellow Neil Diamond fans both male and female, who come in all shapes and sizes aged about 21 to 81. Once inside we took our seats and waited. The auditorium was warm and getting even warmer as it filled up.The start of the concert was delayed to allow members of the audience who had not taken their seats to do so and still people were coming in after the concert had started. Why buy tickets for a concert and miss some of it?
Eventually the concert was about to start. The band and backing singers had taken to the stage. Then the arena was plunged into darkness. We had been warned that this would happen. The band started to play but where was the man that we had all come to see? As the spot light picked him out in the centre of the stage the audience rose to its' feet and greeted him with rapturous applause. He began with Soolaimon - husband's favourite followed by Beautiful Noise which is my favourite. After that I was enjoying myself too much to remember exactly what was played when. At the end of the third number Neil Diamond paused for a drink of water and commented on how hot it was up on the stage with the heat from the lights and went on to say that the air conditioning must be 'malfunctioning' and he would like it on. He played another number then stopped again and complained about the heat. At this point a fan threw him a water spray which he used to spray his face and whilst doing so said something like 'right now this is as good as sex'. After the fifth number he said that the conditions on the stage had improved. The auditorium was also noticeably cooler. After that the concert passed uneventfully. Neil Diamond was on good form, relaxed, amusing and thoughtful. Despite the heat we enjoyed a wonderful evening's entertainment spending more time on our feet than we did in our seats. It is hard to believe that Neil Diamond is 70 years old. Nowadays, there is not so much hair and the voice is a bit lower and deeper and sometimes a tad ragged, but he could still melt an iceberg.
All too soon the concert was over and we were back at our car on the roof of the multi storey car park - big mistake, as I said before. By now it was 10.20 pm. Marshalls at the car park empty it from the ground floor upwards. On the car radio Johnnie Walker was interviewing Neil Diamond. It was slightly surreal to hear the voice, of person that we had just seen on stage, coming out of the radio. Never mind the spookiness, listening to the radio passed the time. It was 11.15 pm by the time the cars on the ninth floor started to move. It had been a night to remember for more than one reason.
(Hot August Night is the title of a Neil Diamond album released in 1972 which I amended accordingly).