Sellout Crowd Wild for Highly Polished Diamond

The Omaha World-Herald

by Jim Minge

Pop star Neil Diamond was joined Tuesday by more than the nine-piece band that backed him during his two-hour Omaha show.

Diamond also was joined by a strikingly boisterous audience of 10,155 - a pop music version of football's "12th man" - that spewed volcanic-like bursts of cheers throughout the night.

Diamond, who last performed in Nebraska in 1983 at the Bob Devaney Sports Center in Lincoln, drew ovation after ovation during the sold-out show in the Civic Auditorium Arena.

Having sold over 110 million albums and scored 38 Top 40 hits over his 33-year recording career, Diamond had plenty of favorites to offer Tuesday. Heard were such classics as "Solitary Man" (1970), "Hello Again" (1981) and "I Am . . . I Said" (1971).

The 57-year-old Diamond, who performed in the middle of the arena floor on a rotating stage, also offered a few abbreviated cuts from his recently released collection, "The Movie Album: As Time Goes By."

The audience - mostly seasoned concert-goers - peaked during a show-stopping performance of "America," Diamond's 1981 hit from "The Jazz Singer" soundtrack. Four American flags dropped from the stage's round lighting rig suspended above the stage, bringing the audience to its feet.

While Diamond might not be burning up the charts these days, the Grammy Award-winning, Brooklyn-born singer-songwriter remains a sure bet on the concert tour circuit, and his songs are staples in karaoke bars across America.

Take his 1969 hit "Sweet Caroline (Good Times Never Seemed So Good)." During the song, the majority of those in attendance were on their feet clapping and singing along.

Irish rock band U2 must have heard about how audiences respond to "Sweet Caroline." When the band played in Kansas City, Mo., in 1997, it led the 30,000-plus fans through a sing-a-long version of "Sweet Caroline" as the song's lyrics flashed karaoke-style on a huge screen.

Diamond didn't have a big screen Tuesday. He didn't need one. His longtime fans knew the words by heart, and they sang them loud.

Diamond also offered "Forever in Blue Jeans" (1979), "Song Sung Blue" (1972), "Shilo" (1970) and "Girl, You'll Be a Woman Soon" (1967) before returning for an encore that included 1969's "Holly Holy."

Diamond told the audience that it was his first time in Omaha. But World-Herald records show that the pop star performed in Omaha in 1971.

Cut the guy some slack. He's done a few shows during his career.

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