As seven friends and I watched from nearly the last row of the Hollywood Bowl as Neil Diamond performed in concert last Wednesday, I couldn't help but wonder, am I enjoying this sincerely or ironically? Are these songs legitimately good, or am I enjoying myself just because I shouldn't be enjoying myself? Let's break down the moments of the concert and find out! 8:17 pm: The band starts playing. Neil walks on stage, but something is amiss. Neil is not wearing his trademark shiny shirt. Clearly Neil is making a statement - it's not about the shininess of the shirt, it's about the music. And as Neil performs "Holly Holy," that is certainly the case. Verdict: Sincere 8:37 : Between songs, some latecomers make their way into the front rows. Neil berates them for their tardiness, saying, "The concert started 20 minutes ago. What's your fucking problem? I'm Neil Mother-fuckin' Diamond!" Okay, I'm paraphrasing. And Neil didn't drop the f-bomb. But he did get on their case, and it was awesome. Verdict: Sincere
:30: "Sweet Caroline." Are you kidding? It was a whole crowd of people shouting "ba-ba-ba" and "so good, so good, so good!" Verdict: Possibly the most sincere joy ever experienced by man. 09.45: Neil begins singing "You Don’t Bring Me Flowers." There’s a murmur through the crowd - Will Barbra Streisand show up? Alas, it was not meant to be. Neil instead performed with one of his backup singers, but still allowed the song to maintain most of its schmaltzy glory. Verdict: Ironic, but not nearly as ironic as it could have been with a Barbra cameo. 10:02: "Hell Yeah." Neil is performing a song called "Hell Yeah." I repeat, Neil is performing a song called "Hell Yeah." Hell yeah! Verdict: Sincere
0:13: Neil performs his tribute to immigrants, "America." As the song finished, my friend Harrison attempted to lead the crowd in a chant of "Yes We Can." It almost worked. Verdict: Ironic for the song, Sincere for the chant. Final tally: Sincere 4 and a half, Ironic 1 and a half. Conclusion: Sincerity wins! So stop hiding behind irony, and be proud to enjoy Neil for legend he is.
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