Time has not diminished Diamond’s musical talents
By:Al Choman 12/08/2005
During this seasonal time of year, diamonds are usually a girl’s best friend. But at Wachovia Arena on Wednesday evening, another Diamond (Neil, that is), seemed to be a pretty good friend of the ladies himself.
Pop music icon Neil Diamond returned to Wachovia Arena on Wednesday evening with something his audience has not experienced in quite some time. New songs – 12 of them to be precise.
Diamond is busily touring to promote is aptly titled recording “Twelve Songs.” While Diamond blended a representative sampling in the mixture, there was no doubt that it was the radio-friendly pop ballads that his fans had come to see. And on that front, he delivered in spades.
The Brooklyn, N.Y. native’s broad appeal seems to lie in the directness of his lyrics; there are no hidden messages and you can easily hum along to most all of the songs. Can Diamond actually live up to his stage persona or has he become bigger than even he can hope to replicate? Often his lyrical approach seems sententious, especially on “Twelve Songs.”
Even with that aside, his audience simply adores him. At Wachovia Arena, Diamond delivered a truckload of schmaltz and the 8,000 fans in attendance still clamored for more. If Michael Jackson is the King of Pop, then Diamond is the Emperor of Entertainment. Some have even dared to call him the Jewish Elvis. Compliment? To be sure and of the highest caliber really.
The 64-year old Diamond spun sterling versions of “Thank the Lord for the Nighttime,” “Kentucky Woman,” “Cherry Cherry” and “Sweet Caroline.”
Diamond’s concert cornerstone, “America,” included a moving collage of Ellis Island stills and video and at that point Diamond really shifted things into high gear. He followed strongly with a poignant version of the declamatory movie-theme from Jonathan Livingston Seagull and the preachy “Holly Holy.”
Diamond also offered a collection of songs that he said he wrote in coffee shops in Greenwich Village in the 1960s. Diamond accompanied himself on his trusty Gibson for “Glory Road” and “The Grass Won’t Pay No Mind.” From the new album, only “I’m On To You” seemed to have impetus.
As I saw the Hall of Fame nominees the other day, I thought of Diamond and wondered why the Hall hasn’t come knocking yet? Blondie is getting in this year (important pop band? I guess so), as well as the Sex Pistols (important band? Absolutely, but really, just the one album).
I suspect Neil’s time will eventually come.