Yes, Neil Diamond wore beaded shirts, not sequins, Super Diamond’s Randy “Surreal Neil” Cordeiro acknowledged.
But Super Diamond is not a straight-up Neil Diamond tribute band.
Super Diamond will bring their interpretation of Diamond’s classic hits to the Lancaster Performing Arts Center at 8 p.m., Feb. 2.
“I know he wears beads, but I’m just going to embrace the sequins,” Cordeiro said in a telephone interview from San Francisco.
He added his “Surreal Neil” presents a surreal interpretation of Neil Diamond.
“That means I have creative license to wear sequins or whatever I want,” Cordeiro said with a laugh. “I’m not trying to duplicate a Neil Diamond show, I’m not trying to be exactly like him, so we embrace the sequins in Super Diamond, although we admit Neil Diamond doesn’t wear sequins.”
The band members love Diamond’s music, but they also love other music they grew up with, such as songs from KISS, Van Halen, AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Rush and Pink Floyd.
“We just always kind of thought we should play these songs the way we want to play them and not try to do it the way Neil Diamond did his songs, so there’s a lot of psychedelic and hard rock and even alternative influences in our interpretation,” he said.
Cordeiro, 53, is a former mechanical engineer who performed original music on the side. One night, he slipped in a Neil Diamond cover song.
“The next thing I know, I’ve got a Neil Diamond cover band, traveling the country, spreading the good word of Neil,” he said. “Some things just kind of happen.”
Cordeiro covered Neil Diamond songs for about four years as a solo artist, before he formed Super Diamond. The group celebrated its 25th anniversary last year.
He grew up listening to Neil Diamond. His first eight track tape was Neil Diamond’s “His 12 Greatest Hits,” which included songs such as “Sweet Caroline,” Holly Holy” and “Song Sung Blue.”
Cordeiro still writes and records original music during the week. His weekends are spent in sequins, performing as “Surreal Neil” with Super Diamond.
As an engineer, he used to have a three-hour round-trip commute from his home in San Francisco to Silicon Valley.
“When I realized I could quit my day job, was one of the happiest days of my life,” Cordeiro said. “When I first started singing Neil Diamond songs, it wasn’t something that I thought I could make money at, or would be as big and successful. But sometimes life has great surprises.”
He met the real Neil Diamond. In fact, Diamond has performed with Super Diamond on stage on two occasions. Both times it was at the former House of Blues in Hollywood. The club closed in 2015 and was torn down in 2017, to make way for a mixed-use development.
The first time Diamond performed with the group was at a Super Diamond show. Cordeiro knew Diamond was coming to the show. He didn’t invite him to sing with the band until right before the show started. Diamond said yes.
They performed “I Am … I Said.”
“It was the encore, so it was perfect because I walked off and then he walked out,” Cordeiro said.
The audience, naturally, was excited. He estimated Diamond stood on stage for about five minutes.
“The audience was so loud he couldn’t start singing — and it’s a ballad,” Cordeiro said. “It’s a soft song, so it took a while for him to be able to start singing.”
The second time was at a cast party for “Saving Silverman,” the 2001 comedy starring Jason Biggs, Jack Black and Amanda Peet, about a group of Diamond superfans who have a Neil Diamond cover band. Diamond has a cameo in the film. Super Diamond performed “Cherry, Cherry” and “Forever in Blue Jeans” at the cast party, so it was a little more of an upbeat occasion.
Diamond, 78, announced his retirement from touring last year, after he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.
“I think he might do a one-off every now and then … But he’s welcome to come sit in with us again if he ever had the urge to sing in front of an audience,” Cordeiro said. “He always has an open invitation to join us again.”
Surreal Neil, he said, is the perfect stage name for him.
“Like I said, it is a surreal interpretation,” Cordeiro said. “Sometimes I’ll channel David Lee Roth, a little bit of Henry Rollins.”
A Super Diamond show includes an homage to the Ventures, as well as classic rock and alternative influences from bands such as Depeche Mode, Nine Inch Nails and Oingo Boingo’s Danny Elfman.
“It’s kind of a little rock and roll history a little bit, as well as a Neil Diamond tribute,” Cordeiro said.
Asked what his favorite Neil Diamond songs are to sing, he said “Love on the Rocks,” as well as “I Am … I Said.”
Cordeiro said they are looking forward to their show at the Lancaster Performing Arts Center.
“I hope Lancaster breaks out the sequins,” he said. “And one last word to Lancaster: Whatever you do Lancaster, don’t ever let anyone tell you that Neil Diamond doesn’t rock.”
Tickets cost $29 for orchestra, and $24 for balcony.