December 9, 2021
Los Angeles Herald-Examiner
March 24-29, 1970
Diamond Shines With His Own Songs And Singing
By Kearen Monson
“Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show” never struck me before Tuesday evening, as a great song. But when Neil Diamond did it as part of his opening set at the Troubadour it was–no doubt about it–great.
Diamond’s show is, at every moment, in every way, first rate. The singer-songwriter has a polished style that might, in less capable hands, seem slick. But Diamond has material that is hard to beat: his own songs. And he gets into the mood of every selection. Each seems circumstantial and important (as opposed to the “and then I wrote…” syndrome.) He is obviously excited about what he is doing, and the excitement is contagious.
Discounting some minor problems with cracking and range, his voice is strong. His deliver, on this occasion, was geared quite exclusively to the music, with no extraneous banter, and a lot of singing.
Diamond’s own guitar playing seems somewhat lacking, but he was accompanied by a good group. Carol Hunter provided imaginative backing on guitar, and joined a rather uneven trio, the Ideals, for vocal punctuation in most of the songs. The bass and drum players contributed more than adequately.
But the spotlight never shifts from Diamond–and it never should. He offered a survey of his own best-known works, including “Solitary Man,” “Holly Holy,” Thank the lord for the Nighttime,” “Sweet Caroline,” “Kentucky Woman,” and of course, “Brother Love….” Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now” took on some new musical dimensions with Miss Hunter’s guitar embellishments.
Uni records taped the opening set Tuesday, and will be back to capture the Friday and Saturday shows. The album will be something to look forward to.
Seals and Crofts, accompanying themselves on guitar and mandolin and backed by a bass, opened the show unevenly. The duo’s purposely flat vocal sound seemed artificial and mannered, but occasionally gave way to a more pleasing softness. Some of the songs might have been very funny if the performers hadn’t taken them seriously.
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