February 21, 2024
St. Louis Globe-Democrat
May 29, 1982
National treasure Diamond gives gem of a concert
By Steve Robinson
Neil Diamond ranks with the dozen or so most important names in the history of popular American music–Presley, Ray Charles, Dylan and Sinatra are others in this prestigious pantheon. With more than 20 singles in the top 40 and album sales approaching 50 million worldwide, Diamond is both remarkably gifted as a songwriter and extraordinarily talented as a singer. He is also, at 41, one of the most brilliant and energetic live performers working today.
At the Checkerdome Thursday night, before a sold-out audience of more than 18,000, Diamond was the essence of a consummate professional. With grace, poise and showmanship, he delivered an awesome concert just shy of two hours and 45 minutes. No intermission. No lengthy instrumental solos. More than 30 songs. Bruce Springsteen himself should have been humbled by the sight of it.
In the middle of a spring tour that includes at least 15 other American cities, Diamond and his nine-piece band literally blew open the show with “America” from his 1980 soundtrack for “The Jazz Singer,” a film which also marked his acting debut. Explosive charges ripped through the air when Diamond sang the last chorus, as an enormous American flag with flickering lights was lowered momentarily as a backdrop. No question about what country this Brooklyn-born boy loves.
Diamond, in exuberant spirit and strikingly powerful vocal form throughout the night, shows such a concern for lyrics and melody that he is equally convincing both as a rocker and a balladeer. Shifting gears from Martha and the Vandellas’ “Dancing in the Streets”–during which he had the entire crowd on its feet dancing–to the romantically beautiful “September Morn,” Diamond displayed enormous charm and charisma without any sign of phony bravado or gloating self-importance.
Diamond’s excellent band features lead guitarist Richard Bennett, rhythm guitarist Doug Rhone, St. Louis’ own Reinie Press on bass, Tom Hensley on piano, Alan Lindgren on synthesizers, percussionists King Errisson and Vince Charles, drummer Ron Tutt and backup vocalist Linda Press. The lovely duet that Miss Press sang with Diamond on “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” was one of the evening’s many highlights.
There wasn’t a Diamond song that the audience didn’t like–from newer material like “Yesterday’s Songs” and “Fear of the Marketplace” to older numbers like “Song Sung Blue,” “Cracklin’ Rosie” and “I Am…I Said.” Magically, he transformed the enormous Checkerdome into a space that felt as intimate as a living room.
A precious gem. A national treasure. Neil Diamond.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
May 28, 1982
Neil Diamond Masterful in Checkerdome Show
By Dick Richmond
If ever an artist had too many hits for a single concert, it is Neil Diamond. But that masterful showman did his best to squeeze in a fair sampling in a non-stop, 2½ -hour-plus concert Thursday night at the Checkerdome.
Diamond’s ability to work a crowd is so good that after you’ve seen a couple of his shows, you can almost predict the audience response–when and where things will happen and how it will end. It is as beautiful to watch as listening to him sing his songs.
He opened and closed with “America,” one of his many hits from his movie “The Jazz Singer.” The number was a spectacle, complete with a giant flag and the sound of cannons exploding.
The crowd didn’t really have time to finish cheering before he was into “Love on the Rocks,” a ballad from the same movie. Then it was rock with “Desiree,” and “I’m Glad You’re Here With Me Tonight,” the hit song that was released in 1977, his last time here.
Diamond wasn’t singing every moment, but there was no time wasted. As soon as he told everyone how glad he was to be in St. Louis, he was singing “Kentucky Woman,” then “Cherry Cherry” and “Sweet Caroline.” On the latter, he borrowed the handkerchiefs from a couple of the women in the front row to wipe the moisture from his brow. One suspects those hankies will never get washed.
He did two medleys. One from “The Jazz Singer” included “Hello Again,” “On the Robert E. Lee,” “Amazed and Confused,” and “Songs of Life.” A medley from his 1981 album, “On the Way to the Sky,” included the title track as well as “Yesterday’s Songs,” “Love Burns” and a most unusual number called “Fear of the Marketplace.”
Diamond talked about growing up in New York to introduce “Beautiful Noise,” and after he sang “If You Know What I Mean” he told the crowd that he was feeling so good that he intended to sing most of the night. He was an hour and a half into the show at that point. So at that time no one really thought he was serious.
The house lights were turned up when he told the audience he needed its help because he wanted to make the Checkerdome the largest disco in Missouri. So when he sang “Dancing in the Street,” he had 18,000 folks dancing at their seats.
He then did a ballad with “September Morn,” and then related how his lead guitarist, Richard Bennett, and he came to write “Forever in Blue Jeans” before he sang it.
When he sang “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers,” it was Linda Press who took Barbra Streisand’s part.
Even when Diamond moved into the encores, there was nothing wasted. When he departed, the band kept playing.
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