Singer breaks sales records with two Pavilion Shows
by Marianne Flagg
The Idaho Statesman, Wednesday, November 6, 1996

Pop superstar Neil Diamond leaped onstage in a cascade of laser light Tuesday to deliver his Boise fans their long-deferred dream.

The crowd of 13,000 at sold-out Boise State University Pavilion embraced Diamond with a standing ovation before he put hand to microphone during the luxurious concert.

He will perform another sold-out concert tonight. "We've been waiting for him to come to Boise for 15 years," said John Hand of Boise. "He's just had such great music in every era," said his wife, Loraine, clutching a freshly purchased $40 boxed set of Diamond's career retrospective, "In My Lifetime."

The singer's 30-year history of songwriting and hitmaking drew the faithful, many of whom were fans since the '60s. Others admitted to ulterior motives.

"He just turns me on," teased Shirley Maggard of Caldwell. "Here I am sitting with my daughter and daughter-in-law saying a silly thing like that."

The pavilion was pretty pleased to see Diamond, too. His two shows break records at the multi-purpose hall. Diamond sold 26,000 tickets, the most by an individual. The two shows will gross about $750,000 -- beating out The Eagles' $500,000 take for its one-day show.

Diamond's luster as a showman drew Idahoans of all ages. Some parents brought kids who weren't even born when Diamond wrote a song about "E.T.," let alone pop classics such as "Solitary Man."

Husbands and wives showed up for a date. Moms brought their senior-citizen moms. Jim Herrera, a 28-year-old Generation Xer, prefers the 55-year-old singer's music to the jangly rock favored by his peers. "I like all his music," said Herrera of Nampa. "It's just relaxing, real soothing."

Andrea and Jim Harris of Bend, Ore., saw Diamond two years ago in Vancouver, British Columbia, so they had an idea of what to expect. They bought their Boise tickets when they heard about the concerts while pheasant hunting in Nyssa, Ore. "He's just got so much talent," Andrea Harris said. She admitted to screaming at the Vancouver show, but jokes she would "try to contain myself" in Boise. "And no, I didn't scream," volunteered her husband.

They and the other fans were treated to top-notch sound, musicianship and staging. Diamond's round stage, which revolved, was set on two tiers. The nine-piece band sat in a moat beneath the top tier, where Diamond performed much of the time.

Ramps allowed Diamond to move to the edge of the stage, where he made eye contact with the audience and blew kisses. Diamond's voice was a little craggy on the low notes of the first song, "Crunchy Granola Suite," but his pipes warmed by the next song, "Hello Again."

The hit parade continued with "Solitary Man" and "Girl, You'll Be A Woman Soon." He looked trim in dark blue slacks and a white and blue plaid dress shirt open at the neck. "This in the first time we've played Boise," Diamond said. "I guess we have a lot of songs to catch up with, don't we?"

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