Super Diamond sharing the stage with the PSO
Like many artists who last through generations, Neil Diamond endured a period where, to many, he just wasn't that cool anymore, says a singer who channels Diamond's voice and style for a living.
After Diamond's hits in the early '80s, like “Heartlight,” the style of pop music changed, as it often does each decade, says Randy Cordeiro, who is performing with his band Super Diamond on Jan. 28 with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra at Heinz Hall. When tastes shift, artists affiliated with the last generation lose fans. But Diamond's coolness and amazing music is timeless, and he now has a permanent place in mega-stardom, Cordeiro says.
“Don't let anyone tell you that Neil Diamond doesn't rock,” says Cordeiro, 51, whose band started in 1993 in San Francisco.
“For me, it's very nostalgic,” Cordeiro says about Diamond's music. “It reminds me of growing up and it reminds me of my parents — and then, I just think it's great music. I think people can relate to the songs. It's positive music and happy, so it's really popular.”
Some tribute bands, like for The Beatles, do their best to re-create their artists' concerts in detail, including band member's dress and hairstyles, and to duplicate the music's style exactly. But Super Diamond is different, says Cordeiro, who imitates Diamond's voice in a convincing way, fans have told him. Cordeiro doesn't, however, style himself to look like Diamond. The band does more of a “surreal interpretation” of the music, he says.
“We make it more rock, a little more alternative, a little more psychedelic … and add our own influences, like AC/DC, Van Halen and Kiss,” Cordeiro says.
Cordeiro's band periodically accompanies symphonies, like in Pittsburgh's concert at Heinz Hall. At the symphony shows, Super Diamond tones down the rock element and performs more of the softer songs and ballads. In regular concerts, the band plays up the rock with an alternative edge, and often does “smash-ups” that merge Neil Diamond's music with Led Zeppelin's. Super Diamond's setlist for Heinz Hall — which includes classics like “Sweet Caroline,” “September Morning” and “Forever in Blue Jeans” — has some of the smash-ups: just enough to delight the young people in the audience, while not scaring away the older people, he says.
Performing with symphonies is fun, Cordeiro says.
“It's amazing having 75 people behind me,” he jokes. “If I mess up, everybody's going to be mad at me.”
Neil Diamond himself has sung with Super Diamond twice, including a time at a premiere party in Hollywood for the movie “Saving Silverman” — a film about a Diamond tribute band called Diamonds in the Rough — in 2001. Diamond bought the band members drinks and invited them to a private room at the House of Blues in Hollywood.
“He thanked us for doing (Diamond music), and he said he loved it,” Cordeiro says.
Seeing a real Diamond concert is the ideal experience, but seeing Super Diamond with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra is the next-best thing, he says.
“I get to sing Neil Diamond songs for a living and travel around the country and spread the world of Neil,” Cordeiro says. “There couldn't be a better job.”
Kellie B. Gormly is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.