Neil Diamond sings like a man half his age at KeyArena
Neil Diamond performed to a capacity crowd at Seattle's KeyArena Monday. He still sings like a man half his age, writes freelance rock critic Gene Stout in this review of the show.
Special to the Seattle Times
Concert Review |
Fans greeted Neil Diamond with an almost religious fervor Monday night at KeyArena.
A capacity crowd spanning several generations clapped, shouted, waved its arms and sang along during nearly two hours of greatest hits from Diamond's decades-long career.
At 71, the veteran pop star still rocks like a man half his age, delivering his time-tested pop gems with a smooth professionalism that makes his work look easy. He can still gesture dramatically, drop to his knees and throw kisses without looking too cheesy.
"Are you ready to make some beautiful noise?" he asked the pumped-up crowd, which roared its approval.
Diamond and his polished 14-piece band — featuring four horn players and three women singers — opened with "Soolaiman (African Trilogy II)," "Beautiful Noise," "Forever in Blue Jeans" and the wistful "Hello Again."
Dressed in black slacks and a glittery black shirt, Diamond followed a predictable set list, but the pacing was impeccable. He carefully balanced melancholy tunes, such as "Love on the Rocks" and "Solitary Man," with the rousing, up-tempo "Kentucky Woman," "Cherry Cherry" and "I'm a Believer," done in two versions — as a ballad and as a high-spirited rocker.
Diamond and his band performed on a broad, multilevel stage trimmed with red lights. But the two video screens mounted near the ceiling were too high to be really effective.
Before singing "Glory Road," Diamond talked about "the golden age of rock 'n' roll music" in the 1960s and the political turmoil that accompanied it. And he talked wistfully about his first show in Seattle on Jan. 25, 1970, a day after his 29th birthday.
The evening's showstopper was a boisterous "Sweet Caroline," which Diamond reprised several times, repeatedly bringing the crowd to its feet.
"You Don't Bring Me Flowers," a song about lovers who have drifted apart, was performed as a moving duet with a backup singer, who sang the vocal part Barbra Streisand did on the original recording.
The encore opened with a high-energy "Cracklin' Rosie," followed by "America" (he dedicated the song to his grandmother's difficult but inspiring journey from Russia to America) and a hand-clapping "Brother Love's Traveling Salvation Show."
Diamond closed with the tender "I've Been This Way Before" and signed off by saying, "We are God's children — all."
Gene Stout: firstname.lastname@example.org