Vast collection of hits brings sparkle to Diamond’s concert
By Elana Ashanti Jefferson
Denver Post Staff Writer
Although some stops of Neil Diamond s current tour have highlighted his latest album, “12 Songs,” Monday s show in Denver stuck mostly to his greatest hits. (Post / Brian Brainerd)
Members of Neil Diamond’s vast, adoring fan base insist the reason this “Solitary Man” has sold more than 120 million albums worldwide is that Diamond packs an unparalleled combination of humility and showmanship.
The entertainer proved his fans right Monday night during an expertly staged two-hour concert at the Pepsi Center that was dominated by his classics and slim on material from the entertainer’s successful 2005 album, “12 Songs.”
A curtain near the floor theatrically disappeared to launch the show. As the band played the opening stanzas of “Crunchy Granola Suite,” members rose from the belly of the arena on moving platforms. Diamond suddenly appeared at the center of the stage dressed in black from head to toe, save for the flashy, rainbow sequins on his back and around his collar.
During “Desiree,” Diamond continued the Las Vegas floor show-style production, with three sashaying backup singers, four horns, two percussionists, two keyboardists, a three-member rhythm section and elegant overhead videography courtesy of two wandering cameramen.
Diamond has broken from his greatest- hits repertoire during some stops on this tour to promote “12 Songs.” But he stuck to his trusty catalog Monday, ramping up throughout the night with ever more popular classics such as “Forever in Blue Jeans,” “Sweet Caroline,” “I Am … I Said” and “Kentucky Woman.”
Some of those songs explain why music lovers have a love-hate relationship with Diamond. Yes, his delivery remains sincere, his lyrics earnest and his demeanor that of a sensitive, approachable everyman. But occasionally Diamond’s shtick crosses a line from good taste to creative indulgence, as it did Monday when Diamond talk-sang, or as kids these days say, rapped, the lyrics of “Red, Red Wine.”
Still, with the abundance of nostalgia tracks delivered Monday, even the cynics on hand at the Pepsi Center had to sing along occasionally. And the diehards, many of them clad in their “Cherry, Cherry” red as a sign of affection, danced and hollered their way through it all.
Staff writer Elana Ashanti Jefferson can be reached at 303-820-1957 or firstname.lastname@example.org.