“A vision in a sparkling sequined shirt and black tuxedo trousers bursts onto the stage. It's Nearly Neil – I mean Bobby Bruce – and his hair seems possessed by its own permanent wind machine. We are held captive. Here is a star, a true showman.
It's only song number two, everybody's favourite, Sweet Caroline, and already the audience is pushing their chairs aside to reclaim the dance floor. Those who aren't on their feet are giving it all they've got with a good bit of chair dancing and hand waving.
Of course, there's that voice. That throaty, husky, whispering purr; it's uncanny. He has the swagger, the laidback charisma, the sheer essence of Diamond – and his sideburns, too. What's not to love?
Together with his merry band of consummate musicians, Bobby rocks the Norths Showroom with the kind of panache it hasn't seen in probably a good couple of decades as he whips through a smorgasbord of Neil Diamond's greatest.”
“In the pantheon of celebrity tribute acts, you’d be hard pressed to find a more honest portrayal than Bobby Bruce in his homage to Neil Diamond.
Known as ‘Nearly Neil’, the Port Coquitlam native is so convincing, his legion of adoring fans actually believe they’re witnessing the real thing with his frenetic live show that clearly displays a genuine affinity for the multi-Grammy winning recording artist.
For those of us that have had the chance to bear witness to a Nearly Neil show, it really is something to experience. Bruce not only embodies the star in onstage swagger and style, but similarly in voice. In fact, the vocal resemblance is haunting.
While Bruce may embody the essence of Neil diamond in a number of ways, he’s quick to remind that you can’t get too caught up in the act. “There are always events that keep your ego in check,” he tells me.
“I was heading down to a performance in my costume one weekend and in the elevator, a kid goes, “Are you the magici”
TV Week Online
“Bruce shared the spotlight with his band members as he sang each selection, often including his own talents on the rhythm guitar. “Play Me,’ featured Dave Corman on the guitar.
Craig Zurba on the keyboard transformed the ballad “Love on the Rocks” into a memorable rendition.
A wonderful musician and showman, the drummer and band leader Kyle Radomsky gave a nice background beat and yet, at just the right time, he took center stage and livened the scene with his ability and humor.
A great asset to the group is the newest member, Marlow Holder, on bass guitar. Holder gave each song an added depth that would have been missing without him. His sparkling personality and youth gave the group the perfect lift and his solo performance was outstanding.
“That was the best performance my husband and I have seen in a while. Bobby Bruce has a wonderful voice and a good stage presence. The band was very accomplished and they all seemed to have a good time and enjoyed what they were doing”
Bakersfield Express Newspaper
“Once in a lifetime there is one act that stands out from the rest. The one that looks the spitting image of the person they are impersonating, one that as soon as they open their mouth you honestly believe you are listening to the real thing. We have found that one person who gives a unique and outstanding performance of one of the worlds greatest and most popular stars over the last 30 years. Neil Diamond as portrayed by Canadian entertainer Bobby Bruce.”
Auckland Weekend Sun
“Neil Diamond had better be wary he ever comes to town. Bobby Bruce is a hard act to follow. The Canadian impersonator not only mimics the great Neil Diamond to a tee but also implants some of his own pizzazz and style, a combination so clever and disarming that it brought the house down.
Bruce, in rhine-stoned dress trousers, and a white, beaded fringe shirt, achieves the essence of Diamond’s raspy stridency in such favourites as Solitary Man, Cracklin’ Rosie, and I Am I Said. But it is the passion and energy of his performance, his connection with the audience and his infections warmth which sets him in a league of his own.”
Adelaide Advertiser, Adelaide, Australia
“Tribute concerts are becoming almost pervasive. Usually, they place emphasis on the effects & imagery of their subjects. Bobby Bruce’s take on Diamond goes about 3 steps further.
He uncannily duplicates the voice. He captures the very essence of his subject, & most of all, he replicates the contagious & infectious charisma that occurred between Diamond & his audiences. This was especially obvious during last night’s concert at the Oakville Centre.
We’ve previously seen Bobby Bruce & the Solitary Band in concert 3 or 4 times. Loved every performance but this incarnation was special. ‘Song Sung Blue’ so involved all 400-odd patrons that one felt as though we were part of a glee club … not an audience. NEARLY NEIL‘s popularity increases exponentially. Our advice, don’t miss him!”
Ontario Arts Review
“Friday night at the Commodore Ballroom, the place is sold out, it’s 1969 again, and Neil Diamond reigns supreme. Good times never seemed so good. Swept into a happy frenzy, half the dance-floor crowd has scrambled on to the stage, clamouring around and singing with a man in purple sequins who throatily belts out a spot-on rendition of Sweet Caroline. He is Bobby Bruce, a Port Coquitlam singer and actor who’s carved a full-time, 165 shows a year living out of being Nearly Neil. But as far as this crowd is concerned, tonight he is Neil.”
“I have participated in the Funtastic Summer Festival since its existence and watched many performers on a hot July day whip the crowd into frenzy in the beer garden. But there is nobody who has done a better job than mockstar Bobby Bruce with his Nearly Neil shows.”
Vernon Morning Star
“A mosh pit that formed at Bruce’s “Nearly Neil” tribute to Neil Diamond, Saturday, led to increased security measures at the event.”
Vernon Morning Star
“Bobby Bruce does Neil Diamond maybe better than the original.”
“Not that long ago I saw Nearly Neil (Bobby Bruce) live and I’m telling you it was as close to Neil Diamond as I’ll ever get….Many entertainers like to invoke the cliché of how they attract the eight to eighty crowd. Nearly Neil’s demographically diverse crowd makes this cliché a little more creditable. I think as many people arrived on their skateboards as in their RVs. It made for an interesting mosh pit.”
Monday Magazine, Victoria, BC, Canada
“Oh, sweet Caroline, I have a crush on a man … and his name is Nearly Neil Diamond. I never knew I was a Neil Diamond fan but when legendary impersonator and ‘70s child actor-model Bobby Bruce hit the stage, a movement awakened inside me. I was hooked. That night, the familiar beats of Forever in Blue Jeans started, and Bruce sang. Oh-my-god, he sounded exactly like the real Neil Diamond. The way he moved, the tone in his voice – the crowd went nuts. Women surged to the front in hand-waving unison, men hung around the bar singing along with glee.”
Pique News Magazine, Whistler, BC, Canada
“Nearly Neil & The Solitary Band, a tribute to one of pop music’s most enduring and successful singer-songwriters, Neil Diamond. Bobby Bruce takes on the monumental task of recreating the magic of a music legend in his heyday. Remarkably, he captures the phrasing, style, image, and stage presence of one of the music industry’s most enduring voices. Bruce is not alone in this endeavor. He is backed up by the talented Solitary Band. Together, they concentrate their tribute on the young and exciting times of Neil Diamond’s early days, focusing on his rise to fame through his historic Jazz Singer album.
Loyal followers of Diamond will find in Bruce’s performance all of the depth, style and sophistication that won over millions of fans with songs like Cherry, Cherry, Forever in Blue Jeans, Sweet Caroline, Holly Holy, and I Am...I Said. What Nearly Neil & The Solitary Band deliver best in its travels from Brooklyn to Bangkok is a dynamic and passionate tribute to Neil Diamond.