The original king of pop, in a one-night only show. Saturday Evening in Marine Midland Arena. A Sparkling Diamond engages his audience
Buffalo News/Sunday, October 6, 1996
by Melinda Miller

Neil Diamond returned to Buffalo Saturday night with a show as polished as his name - and with a voice to match. If anyone in the sell-out crowd wasn't pleased, then there's no pleasing some people. They paid for the best of Diamond and that's what they got.

He entered in a burst of laser light and smoke, then proceeded to give the audience a lesson in pop-star showmanship. Diamond's practiced patter was easy, his manner comfortable. The timbre of his 55 year-old pipes resonated through "Hello Again," "Girl You'll Be a Woman Soon" and "Solitary Man," with his voice straining only in the hearty "Thank YEWs!" he threw to the crowd before heading into each familiar number.

Time is finally showing around th the singer's waistline and hairline, and his flowing locks now glisten with gray. But experience has only enriched his singing. This is a pro who knows what notes he can hit, and he nails them with a hammer. "See if you remember this one," he said at one point, "or, we'll see if I remember this one." He remembered it, and as he leaned into the chorus of "You are the sun, I am the moon, you are the words, I am the tune, play me..." a platoon of willing volunteers shrieked from the good seats.

There are a lot of good seats for a show like Diamond's. Strolling around a rotating stage smack in the center of Marine Midland Arena, he did his best to make eye contact with every one of his fans. Using an economy of gesture and an occasional discreet swivel of his slim hips, he saved energy for the songs that the steadfast fans came to hear, performing for two hours without intermission.

Diamond wore a yellow plaid shirt and no jacket, but this wasn't Seattle flannel. The heavy-duty lighting caught the sequins and rhinestones just right all night. The only low point of the evening was right up front, with muddy sound on a nearly unidentifiable opening number. It was remedied by son [sic!] No. 2.

Individual fans probably have their own list of high points among the Diamond standards - "Holly Holy," "I am, I Said," whatever - all songs he still sings like he likes them. But the most moving moment came in a romantic and nearly perfect rendition of "You Don't Bring Me Flowers," sung with talented back-up vocalist Linda Press.

When the concert started, the singer praised his host city, its sunny day and the beautiful new arena. For this Diamond, it turned out to be an ideal setting.

(any typos are soley the responsibility of the typist or her cat)


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