To S.A. fans, Neil Diamond retains that sparkle after all these years!
By Hector Saldana
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Special to the Express-News
Neil Diamond kills with kindness.
After 30 years in the music biz, Diamond still has the sqagger, the good looks and the pipes of a genuine pop star. And he is such a polite rocker, too -- blowing kisses, smiling and saying "thank you" after every number.
Performing hit after hit from a songbook that ranges from classic '60s pop to emotionally overwrought ballads, Diamond worked an Alamodome throng of nearly 20,000 with ease at his Tuesday night concert-in-the-round, part of his world tour that ends, appropriately, in Las Vegas next month.
An innovative motorized stage rotated, allowing for a good vantage for every fan. Wondrous laser displays and dramatic lighting delivered spellbinding flash
. Diamond sounded hoarse on the first couple of songs, but hit his stride on "Hello Again," playing to the faithful fans with a cooling vocal. "We've played here so many times, San Antonio is starting to feel like home," he said.
He strapped on his trademark Everly Brothers Gibson guitar for "Solitary Man," which stayed true to the original arrangement. Diamond's excellent nine-piece band provided a rich sound from the orchestra pit, blending acoustic and electric guitars, double bass, Hammond organ and percussion into the mix.
"Girl, You'll Be a Woman Soon" sounded almost soft compared to its recent remake on the "Pulp Fiction" soundtrack by Urge Overkill. Diamond performed the number with a pleasant, near Roy Orbison lilt.
The roof nearly came off the dome as the famous opening three-chord sequence of "Cherry, Cherry" blasted through the sound system. Thousands stood, clapped and danced along to the compelling hit. What would the Romantics ("What I Like About You"), John Mellencamp ("R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A.") and countless other garage bands have done if Diamond had never written that song?
There was a good-time feeling all night as fans waxed nostalgic, though Diamond fired through some of his latest offerings off the "Tennessee Moon" album with a sense of urgency and also drew raves.
The emotional delivery on "Play Me" was sweetly accompanied by a beautiful Spanish guitar solo. "Kentucky Woman" was vintage Diamond. Diamond has always straddled the fence between the variety show pop of Glen Campbell and Paul Anka and the sexier Vegas posturing of Elvis Presley and Tom Jones.
Tuesday's concert perfectly showcased the multifaceted songwriter's chart-topping, middle-of-the-road legacy.
Submitted by Kevin Petry

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