Lyric Theatre, London
The producers of Thriller Live - now in its tenth year - presented the soulful and hearty vocals of Fisher Stevens as Neil Diamond in Beautiful Noise, on the West End stage for the first in a series of occasional future performances. This sweet gig however is strictly for Diamond fans who want to celebrate the life and music of the infamous solitary man, in the company of a live band and as much nostalgia as they can muster.
Telling the story of Neil Diamond’s rise to fame amid the birth of rock n roll and the glory of New York’s Brill Building, Stevens recounts countless Neil Diamond hits including ‘Cherry, Cherry’, ‘You’ll Be A Woman, Soon’ and ‘Sweet Caroline’ - arguably the one that everyone was waiting for. It’s not hard to see how Diamond became one of the best songwriters in America, recognised to this day. Lyrically stunning but lesser known songs ‘I am... I said’ and ‘Play Me’ further reminded the audience just what a talent he is, in case there was any questioning… probably not given that Stevens recognised most of the front few rows of the audience from his tours up north!
Despite the incredible repertoire, the show’s accompanying presentation of stock footage and photographs ultimately gave Beautiful Noise the feel of a wet evening at Butlins. This sensation is only re-inforced by it taking place amidst Shaftesbury Avenue's starry line up of hit shows, to say nothing of being performed on the stage of (the electrifying) Thriller Live on its night off. There is no doubting Diamond’s talent, nor Stevens’ prowess as a tribute singer too, (complete with shiny shirts and growling filler anecdotes) but there’s simply not enough substance here to warrant the ticket price to anyone other than die-hard fans.
A lacklustre night, albeit of gorgeous music and strictly for those who prefer both their jeans and their songs sung, blue.
Future performances on Mondays 10th June and 8th July and on tour
Reviewed by Heather Deacon