His voice may not be what it used to be, but Neil Diamond can still sell out concerts and provoke girlish screams from the audience – or at least his impersonator can.
Joey Purpura has lived and breathed Neil Diamond since 2004, travelling across the country and parts of the Caribbean with his tribute show Diamond in the Rough.
"I've always been able to do voices, as long as I could remember," said the 39-year-old.
"When I found out I could do a pretty good Neil Diamond, my friends encouraged me to go on stage."
The singer wasn't on Purpura's radar growing up and so he really started from the ground up.
In 2002, the Toronto-based impersonator began researching the singer's life, studying his every move, song and story behind the music.
He found a Las Vegas-based designer able to replicate Diamond's glittery costumes of the mid-’70s.
"I wanted to research his life because I not only sing his songs, I tell a story and highlight his life just to make it more interesting," Purpura said.
He searched for little known facts about the singer. For instance, Diamond grew up in the same neighbourhood as Barbra Streisand. They went to the same school and sang in the same choir.
Purpura also discovered Diamond was a pre-med student and was six months and 10 credits short of a pre-med degree when he abandoned his studies to pursue music.
"He recorded and released a lot of albums and so he has a huge backlog of music," Purpura said of the singer's international appeal.
"And he continues to tour. His music is very diverse and his songs, as one biographer said, cut through your heart and soul, making you feel his pain, anguish and joy."
Legion's Branch President, Bill Echlin, said this is one of a series of tribute concerts they’re doing. On Oct. 15, they’ll have a Johnny Cash Tribute show as well.
He said this is part of an initiative to expand the appeal of the Legion.
“This is not just an old boys club anymore. It’s a public thing,” he said. “We want the public to get involved and enjoy our building as well.”
The Neil Diamond tribute concert will be held Oct. 1 at 8 p.m. at the Pictou Legion. Tickets are $20 advance/$25 door. Pick up tickets at Legion club room later this month or phone (902) 485-4790.