Neil Diamond: Live 1976, The Thank You Australia Concert – DVD Review

Available at Amazon.com

In 1973 Neil Diamond announced that he would be taking an extended sabbatical from live performing much to the chagrin of his legions of fans. In 1976 he set out on his first major tour playing several shows throughout Australia, a country that loves him. The last night of his tour was televised live so that all those Australians who couldn’t make it to one of his shows would still have a chance to see him. Now, 32 years later, the rest of us have a chance to see this same show.

For Neil Diamond fans this concert was a huge deal and is still today considered one of his greatest recorded performances. He played for three hours, although only two hours were aired and only two hours appear on this DVD. He played his huge hits such as “Solitary Man,” “Sweet Caroline,” “Cracklin’ Rose” and a fun “Song Sung Blue” where he got the whole audience, all 38,000 of them, to sing, whistle and hum along with him. He interacted with the audience a lot and all around gave a pretty solid performance.

But what if you’re not a Neil Diamond fan? What if you’ve only heard a few of his hits and are curious to learn more? Well, in that case I’d start somewhere else. The hits he plays are pretty good, but the non-hits are odd little songs that seem like they only appeal to true hard-core Diamond devotees. Also, he finishes out his big hits in the first hour leaving you 60 minutes of stuff you most likely never heard before. Heck, he doesn’t even play “Girl, You’ll Be A Woman Soon.” It’s not a bad concert DVD, but it’s not anything special either.

The film is presented in fullscreen 1.33:1 and Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo surround. Considering this was shot on video over 30 years ago it doesn’t look too bad. It’s a little muddy which detracts a little from the over all enjoyment of the concert, but if you really like the songs then you won’t mind so much.

Cut performance: “Morningside”: (5 min.) The video quality of this song is terrible and just goes to show how well the rest of it has been preserved.

Special Introduction with David Frost: (4 min.) In the time leading up to the concert this David Front guy talks about the anticipation and everything.

Live Commercials From The Stage (5 min.) This is actually very funny. To avoid having to cut to commercials Neil Diamond agreed to promote the sponsors products himself, so he reads the script he’s been given for the products and proceeds to make fun of them the whole time.

“A Current Affair” Interview”: (47 min.) Easily the most interesting aspect of this DVD, Neil Diamond gives his first ever television interview. This is very fascinating, insightful and entertaining. A must see for Neil Diamond Fans.

Photo Gallery

Concert DVDs are generally released with a very specific audience in mind: the fans of that particular artist. Sometimes a performance can be so seminal that it can draw in new fans, I don’t think this concert is that one for Neil Diamond. This is also the first case I’ve seen where the special features were actually better than the actual film. So if you’re not a huge Neil Diamond fan, don’t bother.

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Eagle Vision presents Neil Diamond: Live 1976, The Thank You Australia Concert. Starring Neil Diamond. Running time: 112 minutes (despite the 177 min. time listed on the packaging). Not Rated. Released on DVD: July 1, 2008. Available at Amazon.com.

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