December 9, 2021
Orange County Register
March 22, 1970
Neil Diamond Gives Moving Performance
By Marilyn Graham
The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation billed Neil Diamond for its charity program at Chapman College, and no one else. It was a surprise of the night of the concert to see a slick KRLA disc jockey (Johnnie Darin) jump out and introduce comedian Albert Brooks. I found it hard to believe I was not attending a high school assembly.
When Neil Diamond appeared on stage, he swiftly changed the atmosphere. Wearing tight black pants and body shirt (his backup guitarists were dressed more flamboyantly than he was), Neil Diamond was the unmistakable attraction.
His movements were lithe and electric, his voice at the peaks of excitement, almost a gravelly scream. At times he turned profile and clapped his hands above his head, resembling a flamenco dancer.
Diamond looks and talks Brooklyn, not Hollywood. He gives something most “superstars of the seventies” are not willing to give to a “bubble-gum” public.
The lyrics to his big hit, “Cherry, Cherry,” are not as important as the pounding beat of the piano (missing in this concert) and the song’s controlled frenzy. The lyrics in “Solitary Man” and “Two-bit Manchild” are reminiscent of growing up and trying to find something, but the frustration comes across vocally rather than lyrically.
He sang recent hits, “Kentucky Woman,” “Holly Holy,” and “Sweet Caroline,” complacently well. About Joni Mitchell’s “Clouds,” he said, “It’s overdone, but we’ll overdo it a little bit more,” not in the soft style of Joni Mitchell or Judy Collins, but in his own style.
The climax of the evening came with “Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show.” He wrote the song after attending a revival meeting in Mississippi. He went because he was curious, but he could not mock the sadness and desperation he sensed in the poor tenant farmers.
“I was really pulling for him to give them something I couldn’t give them. The preacher could give them all the answers,” he said. Neil Diamond began to evangelize like Brother Love and finally broke into song, catching the audience in excitement.
He received a full standing ovation and left the stage as quickly as he had come on. He opened later at Troubadour and played undoubtedly to a more hip crowd than at Chapman. I hope they appreciated him as much.
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