NEIL DIAMOND RICHLY DESERVES THE ADULATION HE STILL RECEIVES
By Michael Mehle
Rocky Mountain News
Nov. 13, 1996
His fans will likely take this the wrong way, but Neil Diamond is like a cockroach.
For years, critics have fruitlessly tried to stomp the singer into submission. Three decades worth of contemporaries have marched to virtual extinction while Diamond has simply marched on. Fifteen years after his last hit, the performer continues to leave enraptured, sold-out crowds in his wake.
But if Diamond is like a hardy insect, it's an undeniably cool cockroach--in a sequined, kiss-blowing, Vegas sort of way.
In the first of two shows at McNichols Tuesday, the singer poured on the panache with an infectious zeal that spread through the arena. Bounding onto a revolving stage to cap a laser-light show, Diamond and his crack ensemble sparked a 2 1/2-hour show with Crunchy Granola Suite.
Digging deep into his repertoire, Diamond generously laid out hit after hit. You know the songs; the ones you liked at first, later grew sick of after radio drummed them into your head, and now find yourself humming with guilty pleasure.
The sold-out audience needed no prodding to sing along to Beautiful Noise, clap along with Kentucky Woman or wave their arms to Song Sung Blue.
Ballads such as Hello Again, September Morn and You Don't Bring Me Flowers (sung with backing vocalist Linda Press) were a good test for Diamond's baritone, which is still in remarkable shape. Crowds keep coming back because Diamond leaves little in the dressing room.
Here was the surprise: a set of fresh songs from his latest album, Tennessee Moon, that passed muster measured against his classics. He stripped his slick ensemble down to an acoustic four-piece for an almost gritty, bluesy rendition of No Limit.
Later, letting his accomplished band members take a solo midshow was a noble gesture, but it was also a 20-minute break from the parade-of-hits the crowd came to hear.
Otherwise, Diamond laid it on thick, playing a large chunk of Forever in Blue Jeans a second time because he spotted a pair of fans who weren't standing for the first go-round. Yeah, right.
(Submitted by Bev Lawrence)
Neil Diamond review in The Denver Post 11/14
By Tom Walker
Assistant Entertainment Editor
"I am," he said, and 18,000-plus adoring fans at McNichols Arena Tuesday night hung on every word as pop icon Neil Diamond rooned, growled and howled his way through a 28-song set that covered his amazing 30-odd-year career.
It was the first of two shows in Denver, and Diamond proved once again why his concerts sell out in minutes - he's the consummate showman. The 55-year-old legend showed no signs of suffering from a long tour or thin air. (But he never has hit the low note on "Sweet Caroline.'')
From the opening bars of "Crunchy Granola Suite" until the last refrain of "Brother Love's Traveling Salvation Show" 2 1/2 hours later, Diamond was king and the audience his court.
He seduced the crowd with the soft sounds of "Solitary Man,'' "Girl, You'll Be a Woman Soon," "Hello Again" and "Play Me," and scorched it with rousing renditions of "Cherry, Cherry" and "Holly Holy" before transforming into a tent preacher with the rollicking "Brother Love." Diamond has recently released "Tennessee Moon," a countrytinged album that was recorded in Nashville with some of that city's greats, like Waylon Jennings and Chet Atkins. He sang five songs from the album, including "Can Anybody Hear Me?" "One Good Neil Diamond Love" and "Everybody," which he wrote with his son, Jesse.
He also performed the title cut from "In My Lifetime," a threeCD boxed set that travels the course of his career. The song was accompanied by an understated light show and recordings of historic moments spanning parts of four decades.
As you might expect from a group that has been together for 20 years, Diamond's band provided a tight backing of music and vocals. Linda Press was the most prominent, vocally, and performed with Diamond on "You Don't Bring Me Flowers" and "One Good Love." Diamond sang some songs Tuesday night that he must have performed thousands of times for many thousands of people, but you'd never know it. He put just as much feeling and sincerity into "Solitary Man," which he recorded in 1966, as he did in "No Limit" from "Tennessee Moon." Diamond has had his detractors over the years. They say his music is schmaltzy and corny.
But if a guy can bring so much pleasure to so many people through words and music, how can that be bad?