December 4, 2023
November 9, 1970
Neil Diamond Show Draws 2500 Fans To Music Hall
By Jim Knippenberg
Neil Diamond, one of rock’s most prolific writers and recorders, drew over 2500 people to Music Hall Friday night for his first Cincinnati concert. The crowd, ranging from perfectly straight to semi-freaked, was one of the most responsible in recent memory.
His show is more from the old days of rock and roll music than what you might expect today. They use the full stage at Music Hall, with Diamond all the way to the front and his backup group almost to the very rear of the stage.
The backup group was quite impressive. Using only a bass, 12-string guitar, organ and drums, Diamond places behind him some of the better sidemen in the business. They do a fine job.
But it is Neil Diamond, of course, who holds down the stage and makes up the show. The evening should have been called “Neil’s greatest hits,” for that’s mainly what he did all night.
And he easily has enough to fill up an evening. “Sweet Caroline,” “Solitary Man,” “Thank The Lord For The Nighttime,” “Holly Holy,” “Crackling Rosie,” “Kentucky Woman,” and “Cherry” were just a few of them.
He also sings songs made by other people, but styled especially to suit his talents. Things like “He Ain’t Heavy–He’s My Brother” and “Both Sides Now” fit into this category.
Whatever it was that he was singing, the audience loved it. Despite the occasional lack of variety and the apparent absence of spontaneity (his show is almost identical to his records), the 2500 people were moved to frequent applause, lots of foot stomping and even a clap-along now and then.
It was all very different from the usual rock concert. The audience was orderly beyond belief, with only a few moving around, no one in the aisles and not one infringement on the smoking rule. The stars looked like midgets up there on the gigantic stage–most shows use only the part of the stage in front of the curtain–isolated from the audience. It was all very calm and refined. And that’s different from the usual rock show.
Before Diamond put in his appearance, there was a bit of warm-up. Comedian Albert Brooks held the stage about a half hour, spending a lot of energy, displaying a dynamic personality and keeping the crowd on their toes before the star’s arrival.
He did it more with his energy than with his comedy. His brand of humor is diverting enough, but far less than thigh slapping. He’s more fun to just watch than to listen to.
But it was of course Neil Diamond’s night. The crowd loved him and showed it in a lot of ways–there was even a squeal or two. In appreciation, Diamond put on a good show–less than historic, but above the average. Most people wish it hadn’t ended when it did.
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