Neil Diamond, 50th Anniversary Tour, First Direct Arena, Leeds

NEIL Diamond is one of our last remaining music legends – and at 76 is he on a world tour to celebrate five full decades in the business.

More than 13,000 adoring fans packed into Leeds arena for this very special night – which felt surprisingly intimate given the size of the venue.

Over two hours Neil and his 13-piece band raced through some of his biggest hits, including Solitary Man, Forever In Blue Jeans, Love On The Rocks, Red Red Wine, Play Me and I Am, I Said.

Dressed in black with some glittering rhinestones, he moved gingerly across the stage, displaying all the characteristics of rigid dad dancing, but no-one cared.

They were here for the songs, and he didn't disappoint.

No one sounds like Diamond. He has a unique voice, deep and gravelly, yet deliciously mellow.

Unlike some of our 20th-century music giants, age has not diminished this, and his achingly beautiful tone still rang as true as it did in the 1970s, especially on his ballads.

One highlight was the gospel-like Holly Holy, which built to a thrilling crescendo with the help of his backing singers.

The autobiographical Brooklyn Roads was particularly poignant as he sat (for the only time during the gig) playing guitar while cine film and photos from his childhood – including footage of his parents – played on a diamond-shaped screen.

The star has always preferred performing to songwriting and it was evident here – he played the audience as skilfully as his acoustic guitar, encouraging sing-a-longs and blowing kisses to the crowd after each song.

I'm A Believer had everyone on their feet, and the encore of Sweet Caroline and Cracklin' Rosie kept them dancing right until the end of an evening to treasure.

Maxine Gordon