By Howard Cohen
Miami Herald Staff Writer

It wasn't a "Hot August Night"--- it was a cold December one Mon- day night at Miami Arena. But it did offer warm memories of Neil Diamond's past
Diamond will never again be the pop/rocker he was in 1972, when he released his seminal live LP, 'Hot August Night.' He'll be 56 next month, and he's content to leave the hard-rock posturing and thrusting to the kids (and to Tom Jones).
But he is reaching the young again, perhaps helped by recent covers of 'Girl You'll Be A Woman Soon' by modern rockers Urge Overkill and 'Solitary Man' by 1990/s swooner Chris Isaak.
With this show, dubbed "The Greatest Hits Tour," plus the release this year of a well- received country/pop CD ('Tennessee Moon') and a three-CD box set, 'In My Lifetime,' documenting four decades of music-making, Diamond's career has suddenly been revitalized.
Diamond's better tunes--the ones from the late '60's and early '70's, mostly, are part of pop culture. Thankfully, he seems to know this now, and he has excised the fat that muddied his 1993 concert at the Arena. Gone are the dreadful '80's ballasts ('Heartlight', 'Yesterday's Songs'), the schmaltzy stage patter, the lazy coast through his catalog. He still tends to bark out lines on ballasts ('Hello Again' was particularly harsh) but as Monday's show progressed, his voice smoothed out, giving the romantic 'September Morn' and others proper musical treatment.
Diamond seems reinvigorated by the new attention. He exhorted fans to stand and dance, or at least clap, to the uptempo numbers. "Wake that kid and make him sing!" he shouted to someone with a dozing child near the front of his circular, rotating stage. No luck, Junior was out. So Diamond sang 'Forever in Blue Jeans' again. Exuberantly.

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