Sweet Caroline: playing the background music of our lives
WHAT started off as a five-year plan has stretched to two decades as Canadian singer Bobby Bruce's impersonation of legendary entertainer Neil Diamond continues to dazzle audiences around the world.
Born in a small town just outside Vancouver, Bruce grew up with tunes like Sweet Caroline, America and Song, Sung Blue blaring out at home.
"I grew up with this music because my parents were playing it in the background of my life,” Bruce told the Tweed Daily News.
"I was more attached to the songs than I was to Neil Diamond. It was the material that did it; his songs are great, they really reflect life.
"Even today... this reminds me of my parents' parties back in the 70s: a bunch of adults singing and dancing and having a great time and to me that's what this music is all about - there is no trying to be cool with this music, it is really just about having a good time, having fun and closing your eyes and remembering.”
Bruce will return as Nearly Neil to Twin Towns on January 7 as part of his Beautiful Noise Tour which kicks off in Sydney on New Year's Eve.
He is no stranger to our shores, having enjoyed a family holiday on a houseboat on the Tweed River last time he toured Australia.
"I just love the area,” he said.
"We've been down the river, rented one of the houseboats and gone down the Tweed River, we've holidayed that way and just really had a wonderful time in that area,” he said.
"We had so much success with this show last time we were at Twin Towns that they have asked us to bring it back.
"It is a great show for us because it not only involves the full band but it involved a live string section as well and Ashleigh Toole who appears as Barbara Streisand. She does a fantastic show, she is such an incredible singer.”
With the real Neil Diamond, 75, currently marking his 50th year in music with a world tour, Bruce is quick to dismiss accolades by some that he's even better than the original.
"That is something that I personally wouldn't say,” Bruce said.
"But people have mentioned that I am more the younger version of Neil Diamond sound-wise because they feel his voice has changed as he has gotten older and I am retaining his more youthful sound.
"He is on tour now for his 50th anniversary.
"It is incredible that he is still making music and touring.”
What: Bobby Bruce as Nearly Neil in his Beautiful Noise Tour
When: Saturday, January 7, 2017
Where: Twin Towns
Bookings: 1800 014 014