Get ready to sing your heart out to classics like Sweet Caroline and Cracklin' Rosie when The Neil Diamond Super Hits Show returns to the Stars Under the Stars concert this weekend. Steve Cummins is a multi-award-winning Australian entertainer and has toured extensively playing throughout Australia, New Zealand and Asia for more than 20 years. He's been described as the best performer to master the feel of Diamond's music.
Rebecca Mauger asks tribute artist Steve Cummins some questions about being Neil Diamond.
Can you recall a memory of the first time you heard a Neil Diamond song and what you thought of it?
Yes! I was 8 years of age when my father put on an album called Hot August Night. My parents were having a party by themselves and thought I was asleep. The music was wonderful and stirred something inside me. I got out of bed so I could listen to the music a little closer and as I put my head around the corner of our lounge room, I saw my father standing in his underpants, with my cricket bat in his hand using it as a guitar, singing the song now known to me as Kentucky Woman to my mother who was sitting on a kitchen stool looking at dad funny.
How did you come to start singing Neil Diamond songs?
From the moment I first got a real chance to listen to the Hot August Night album I was hooked. Neil's music stayed with me on my own journey as a performer and even when I was performing in my own band during the late 80s, I would throw in a Neil classic and the audience would ask me to do another.
What was your first performance as Neil Diamond like? What was audience reaction?
I've never seen myself performing as Neil Diamond. I like to believe that I am a tribute artist in the true sense of the word tribute. I have always gone on stage with the attitude, tonight I deliver my interpretation of the songs and the feel in which Neil delivers his music. I do remember the first time I performed this show. It was at Club Banora in NSW 25 years ago and it was well received by the audience. I can still remember walking off stage with my band and saying, "I think we're on to something here."
What's the crowd favourite song?
Sweet Caroline, hands down.
What's your favourite song?
I Am I Said, without a flinch.
What do you think is it about Neil Diamond's music that makes it so timeless?
I feel it may be the ease of the melody, along with the meaning and deep soul poetry he expresses in his delivery. I find his musical arrangements to be very complex, however simple at the same time. Neil Diamond is a musical genius and I feel it a privilege that his audiences around the world have allowed me and endorsed my tribute show to him for the last 25 years.