DIAMOND HITS HOMERS FOR ADORING AUDIENCE
The Indianapolis Star
By Marc D. Allan
***½ out of **** (three and a half stars out of four)
Parade magazine speculated that "a sense of quiet desperation" drove Neil Diamond to record his new country-influenced album, Tennessee Moon.
Maybe so, but songs from the disc provided the high points of his two-hour concert Tuesday night at Market Square Arena. One was "Everybody", a lovely ballad he wrote with his son Jessie. Using a comparatively spartan arrangement of acoustic guitar, snare drum, upright bass, keyboards substituting for strings and a brief fiddle break, Diamond sang achingly and convincingly of the sacrifices people make when they fall in love.
Another was "One Good Love", a duet with Waylon Jennings on the disc but performed solo - and with no loss of quality - in this show. A third was "No Limit", an Elvis-style shuffle. And then there was "Marry Me", a self-explanatory expression of devotion in which he sang, "I will love you for all I'm worth".
From the frequent cries of "I love you, Neil" that came from the sold-out house, he undoubtedly would have had many takers. Diamond is a romancer, but he proved once again that he's also a showman. Backed by his nine-piece band, (including his longtime pianist, Indianapolis native Tom Hensley), he performed 27 songs - everything from a light, almost calypso version of "Girl, You'll Be A Woman Soon" to a rousing, set-ending version of "America" and a gently rocking version of "Cherry, Cherry". (Has anyone ever noticed how much the guitar part in John Mellencamp's "R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A" has in common with this 1966 hit? Just wondering.)
And though Diamond made several references to the number of times he must have performed some of these songs here, his enthusiasm never diminished.
Throughout the show, which took place on a slowly revolving stage set in the center of the arena, he flashed genuinely happy to-be-here smiles and looked surprised and pleased when the band kicked into a favorite song.
After most uptempo numbers, he'd pull his first back in excitement, as if he'd just hit a home run. Which, more often than not, he had.