Diamond still dazzles
with collection of timeless gems
By Donnie Snow
September 9, 2002
Some songwriters pen
pieces to fit the moment, some write ditties to stick in your head,
and some write anthems to pull out and parade at times of glory or
Neil Young fits the first like Spandex,
McCartney and Lennon are the standard bearers for the second and the
last, unfairly, is a category for the likes of Neil Diamond.
Unfair, because since the tragedy of Sept. 11,
Diamond's America, which opened his show Sunday night before an
estimated 12,000 at The Pyramid, overshadows the prolific songwriter's
"We're on a mission of love tonight," Diamond
shouted into his microphone to a standing ovation after America, an
anthem he wrote for his immigrant grandparents.
More than a vibe-setter, his declaration was a
segue into A Mission of Love, off last year's "Three Chord Opera."
Diamond, sparkling in all black and sequins,
still wields a caramel-soft smoky voice that melts through fan faves
like Hello Again.
Critics might not care much for his songs,
which are still unfortunately overproduced to Andrew Lloyd Webber
proportions, but fans couldn't care less what critics think.
And neither could Diamond, apparently.
Here's an indication of just how long he's
been making hits: The feel-good groover, whose Cherry, Cherry had his
formally dressed string quartet dancing and clapping, announced he
wanted to sing a few "oldies" after he finished that oh-so-modern hit,
Love on the Rocks, from 1980's The Jazz Singer.
Diamond's show is a mammoth production on the
Las Vegas level. He's one of those performers whose material has
become a sentimental favorite for popular culture to incorporate or
Being the great sport he is, Diamond obliges,
evidenced when he sang Red, Red Wine. He broke into a reggae style for
the ending, a nod to UB40's Brit-reggae cover of the hit.
Setting up his waltzing hit Play Me, where he
cheekily asked if there were any sensitive males in the audience, it
became obvious Diamond gets the whole uncool-yet-still-a-superstar
And if you think he's too old or too sensitive
to rock, just ask yourself where would Uma Thurman's character in Pulp
Fiction be without Girl, You'll be a Woman Soon? Ever the showman, he
stepped into the first few rows to sing this to an unsuspecting woman.
And just how sad would drunken college girls
be if they didn't have Sweet Caroline to sing along to just before
You know, he wrote that in Memphis - on a
whim. Now if that's not cool, what is?