December 4, 2023
December 7, 1970
Diamond Fills Auditorium
By Dennis McCarthy
The “shutterbugs” invaded Civic Auditorium again Saturday night, but even their annoying presence could not disrupt two fine performances by singers Neil Diamond and Odetta.
After KGW disc jockey Bob King pleaded with auditorium patrons to put away their cameras, the second Diamond reached center stage to begin the first of two sell-out shows, the flash bulbs began popping. Unfortunately, they didn’t stop until the Brooklyn-born singing idol stepped off the stage an hour later.
But through it all, Diamond emerged as a master showman, whether teasing his audience with the blaring reflection from an electric guitar, playing with a dead microphone, or grinding out several of his own top hits.
When Diamond warned persons sitting in the front row to beware of the highly-amplified sound system, one man at the rear of the auditorium cried out, “You’re beautiful, Neil.” Diamond responded in kind, “Thank you, sweetheart.”
Like most contemporary singer-composers, Diamond strives to put something of himself into each song. In “Brooklyn Roads,” one of his three encore songs during his first performance, Diamond sand about his early childhood days in Brooklyn, of the joys and sorrows of a young boy growing up in a teeming metropolis.
Although his final number, “Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show,” captured most of the crowd’s enthusiasm, Diamond seemed at his best singing his latest recording, “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother,” a song written by the late Bobby Russell. For this effort, Diamond got a well-deserved standing ovation.
Surprisingly enough, it was Diamond’s accompanying act Odetta who nearly stole the show. A blues-rock singer with a style and voice reminiscent of Della Reese, Odetta added a new dimension to the Paul McCartney tune, “Every Night,” and did a surprisingly good job on James Taylor’s “Fire and Rain,” although occasionally stumbling over some of the words.
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