■ By Susan Carrier / Contributed
With over a dozen sold out shows in the Tribute Mania Concert Series this year, it gets hard to pick out one as the year’s best concert. But on Saturday, Nov. 17, a poll of the audience at the Historic Hemet Theatre would have found hundreds of votes for the Tribute to Neil Diamond by Dean Colley and his band, Hot August Night.
This really was one of the best concerts so far. Dean and the band were energized, clearly having the time of their lives on stage. Every song was greeted by cheers and whistles as dozens of Neil Diamond classics were performed with precision. Dean’s sequined shirt sparkled in the lights as dozens of couples filled the dance floor for every memorable hit. By the encore, the entire audience was on their feet singing “They’re Coming To America, Today!”
Hosting great performers in a hall with great acoustics is a winning formula, but the secret to the rise of the Historic Hemet Theatre as one of the best concert venues in Southern California lies in something else – something quite unique.
It begins with the friendly, community atmosphere as the audience begins to fill the auditorium. Patrons can be overheard sharing stories of growing up watching the latest film release at Martin’s Hemet Theatre. Dozens of “regulars” find their favorite seat, either up front near the dance floor or in the Loge section at the back where the seats will rock to the music.
At 6:45, announcements are made, sharing a bit of the history of the theatre for the “newbies” and reminding everyone of the owners of Hemet’s Community Arts Center. Renovation plans are shared, along with the list of sponsors and gift basket donors helping to raise funds for the future of the venue. The atmosphere becomes more like a block party than a concert hall.
When the announcer takes the stage to introduce the band, most of the audience knows what’s coming. “Do we have any Neil Diamond fans in this town?” is shouted from the stage. The crowd responds, cheering at the top of their lungs, building the energy in the room to a fever pitch. Standing in the wings, the bands cheers too – when there is energy in the room and the crowd is having fun, they know it’s going to be a great concert.
After the show, Dean greets the fans in front of the theatre, signing posters and posing for dozens of photos. As the band packs their gear, they are still talking about the great time they had. HHT is one of their favorite places to perform. There is no better audience.
Two concerts remain in Season Three of the 2018 Tribute Mania Concert Series and both have already sold out – Tribute to Queen (Dec 8) and Cash, Killer and the King (Dec 15).
Tickets for Season One of the 2019 Tribute Mania Concert Series are already selling fast. Tribute to Bruno Mars (Jan 12), Tribute to Van Halen (Jan 26), Tribute to Marvin Gaye (Feb 9), The Glen Campbell Story (Feb 23), The Music of John Denver (Mar 9), Tribute to AC/DC (Mar 23), The Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons Tribute (Apr 6), and Tribute to The Doors (Apr 27).
Upcoming “Friday Nite Live!” concerts are Tribute to Garth Brooks (Jan 4), The Music of The Platters and Aretha Franklin (Feb 15).
Tickets for Tribute Mania and Friday Nite Live shows are $22 presale and $25 day of show. Showtime is 7 p.m., with doors open at 6:15 p.m.
Information on all theatre events is available at www.HistoricHemetTheatre.com or by calling the ticket office, (951) 658-5950. A weekly email blast of upcoming events is available by enrolling on the website.
Event tickets are available online at www.PurplePass.com or at the theatre ticket office. Ticket office hours are Monday through Friday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tickets are also available at the Downtown Deli, 113 North Harvard Street and the Harvard Street Music Exchange, 134 South Harvard Street.