Diamond Shines at E Center

Diamond Shines at E Center
By Pat Reavy Deseret Morning News

NEIL DIAMOND, E Center, Friday.

Three-quarters of the way through Neil Diamond’s show at the E Center Friday night, Diamond went back to his roots.

Sitting on a stool with his acoustic guitar and accompanied by just two other acoustic guitars, Diamond recalled the days of performing in coffee houses in New York’s Greenwich Village in the ’60s. He played “Glory Road,””And the Grass Won’t Pay No Mind” and “Look Out, Here Comes Tomorrow.”

He followed those songs with two off his new album, “12 Songs,” an album that has rightfully received high critical praise. Songs such as “I’m On My Way” and “We,” which he performed Friday, brought the singer/songwriter full circle to those early days in New York.

Musically, it was the best part of the evening. In fact, it was disappointing that Diamond didn’t choose to play more off his great new album.

Ah, but fear ye not the closet full of sequin shirts and lover of Vegas-style shows. Diamond knows what brought him fame in the ’70s and ’80s and he wasn’t about to let his legion of fans down.

Wearing black slacks and a black shirt with red sequins over the shoulders, Diamond touched on all phases of his career before a packed E Center. His voice seemed to take a couple of songs to warm up, but by “Beautiful Noise” it sounded as strong as it has in years.

He put the crowd on its feet and dancing with “You Got to Me” followed by “Kentucky Woman” and “Cherry Cherry.”

“This is a very excitable crowd,” he said. “We’re here to reconnect. We haven’t been here in a couple of years.”

The crowd became so excited during the opening notes of “Play Me,” Diamond had to jokingly request, “Will you just give me a chance to sing this song?”

When he got to his “Jazz Singer” material, Diamond admitted the best part of the movie was the soundtrack. He went through “Love on the Rocks” and “America,” which was treated by the crowd with the same reverence as the national anthem before a sporting event. The audience remained on its feet for “Thank the Lord for the Night Time” and “Forever in Blue Jeans.”

The concert seemed to stall with a lackluster combination of “Lonely Looking Sky” and “Skybird,” but Diamond picked up the tempo again with “I’m a Believer” and a loud sing-along for “Sweet Caroline” that would have made any piano bar proud.

The only other “huh?” moment came when Diamond incorporated a pseudo-rap portion into “Red Red Wine,” a la UB-40. But he redeemed himself by finishing strong with “I Am I Said,””Cracklin’ Rosie” and “Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show.”

Sure, sequins were in style at the E Center Friday. But like the T-shirt at the souvenir stand said, “Hell, yeah! It’s cool to like Neil Diamond.” A note, however, to Diamond and fans: Don’t give up on the new material.

E-mail: preavy@desnews.com

Source: Deseret News (Salt Lake City)

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