JIMMY SO SEATTLE
Times Staff Reporter
Arts & Entertainment
When your parents popped in a Neil Diamond tape on repeat during long interstate road trips, you reluctantly sang along. Never thought you’d turn out to be a Diamond fan now, right? But singing along to “Sweet Caroline” and “Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show” is so addictive now, you’d do anything to see Neil on stage.
A band out of San Francisco can put a rest to that Diamond thirst. Super Diamond delivers a high-octane Diamond tribute show that rocks, and they’re here to play the Showbox tomorrow and New Year’s Eve.
Randy Cordero, the lead singer of Super Diamond, has the guise of Elvis and speaks in an almost boyish voice, more like the Hansons than the gruff Diamond. He’s known as the Surreal Neil, and one look at his attire is explanation enough. All of the guys from Super Diamond dress in flamboyant sequined shirts and velvet bell bottoms, with a little leopard skin thrown in. They’re a wild bunch.
“The name Surreal Neil is perfect. We’re a little more over-the-top,” Cordero said. Super Diamond doesn’t pull off a Diamond tribute band by being lookalikes. They play.
Get them to their instruments and it can seem like they’ve been playing Diamond songs longer than Diamond has. Cordero hits the throaty vocal style of Diamond right on, pronouncing America as “Amiricaaaa.”
“The show is all Diamond songs, but there’s little bits of things from Kiss, Black Sabbath, Rush and AC/DC thrown in … just endings and bits,” Cordero said. “Guys will be like, `No way, it’s Rush!'”
And those who have seen Super Diamond featured on CNN News have seen them morph “Cherry Cherry” into “Sweet Child of Mine.” The crowd always sings along, Diamond lyrics or otherwise.
Many youths are discovering that Diamond is the author of “Red Red Wine” and “Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon,” among other hits. You can blame his resurgence in popularity on parents, the “Pulp Fiction” soundtrack and David Spade in “Lost and Found.” Diamond is even appearing as himself in “Saving Silverman” with Jason Biggs and Jack Black, a teen movie scheduled for release in February.
The Surreal Neil started the group playing Diamond’s songs for amusement and never thought he’d do it for a living, let alone meet Diamond himself. That’s before Neil showed up at a Super Diamond show two Saturdays ago in Los Angeles’ House of Blues.
“He said he’d sing a song with us. But when it came time to pick which song, we couldn’t make up our minds. But it’s always a bit religious among Neil Diamond fans to hear him sing ‘I Am, I Said,’ so we asked him to sing that one with us,” Cordero said.
Cordero and Super Diamond can now cross off “to meet Neil Diamond” on their New Year’s Resolution list. If the Real Neil approves of the Surreal Neil, who’s to object?