San Francisco, California - Civic Auditorium

Dec 06, 1970

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  1. San Francisco Examiner

    December 7, 1970

    Neil Diamond Should Sing More
    By Phillip Elwood

    Singer-composer Neil Diamond returned to town last night after a six-year absence. Then he was an 8-minute, three-tune also-ran on a Cow Palace show. Now he is a front-running star who is about to attract musically both the straights and the heavy rock fans.

    Diamond is a good looking and talented composer. He sings in a gutty, sensual manner like a hip cowboy from Brooklyn and he talks and rambles on, almost endlessly it seems between each song. It took him 80 minutes to get through 14 average length tunes.

    Diamond is a perplexing performer because his lyrics and melodies are consistently good (and have a sense of integrity) and he sings with both the good vocal instrument and the knowing touch of a composer. His phrasing, intonation, dynamics, inflection, timbre and rhythm are quite superior and his voice curiously attractive. But, what he mastered artistically, he almost blows in banter and unsettling stage histrionics. He chats aimlessly in a manner similar to Richie Havens. He quips in shamelessly sophomoric ways to draw giggles from the girls who make up most of his audience, and engages in all manner of school-assembly type audience participation games.

    But worst of all, last night he brought out a trio of talentless groupie-types (calling them his “Neilettes”) who then lurched around the stage, presumably giving a dancing or visual enhancement to a couple of his numbers. Diamond lost some fans by cheapening his act with these girls.

    His songs were as anticipated, “Sweet Caroline,” “Solitary Man,” “Brooklyn Roads,” “He Ain’t Heavy,” “Cracklin’ Rosie,” “Thank the Lord for the Night Time,” and a stomping good “Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show” as a finale…and many others of his hits, of course.

    He has a robust, open-air masculinity of some numbers and an introspective, delicate, urban sensitivity on others.

    His little accompaniment band, especially guitarist Carol Hunter and bassist Randy Cierley, gave good support.

    The now rockish singer, Odetta, once of the folk songsters, began the show with much the same short set she presented in Berkeley two weeks ago.

    “My God and I,” “Give a Damn,” and “Fire and Rain” were beautifully done, although the amplification wasn’t well balanced for Odetta. Also, a foul-up in preordered tickets created a box office snafu that delayed Odatta’s opening the concert by more than a half hour, putting everyone on edge.



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