Neil Diamond at Xcel Energy Center, 7/11/12
|Photo By Stacy Schwartz|
"Behind every solitary man is a dreamer," Diamond announced before "Glory Road," and after a somewhat tepid version of that track, Neil continued to share his thoughts. "Like all believers, the road I've taken has been long, and bumpy, and lonesome. I knew I couldn't hold down a job, so I had to become a singer. And I've been doing that for I don't know how many years now." Over 50 years, actually, but who's counting. And Diamond truly doesn't show any signs of rust, performing with a vigor of a man half his age.
Diamond turned the Monkees hit (which Neil wrote) "I'm a Believer" into a loungey ballad at first, but after he finished singing he mentioned, "There are two versions of that song. Oh, you know, do you? Let's give 'em the rocking version, gang!" And with that, the crowd again sprang to its feet to swing and sing along to the faster (and better) version of "I'm a Believer." Linda Press, who has been part of Neil's band since 1976, sang along with Diamond on "You Don't Bring Me Flowers," and while her voice certainly doesn't compare to Barbara Streisand, when Press and Diamond danced together during the song's outro, it was a warm, affectionate moment that made the somewhat schmaltzy version memorable.
The set began to drag a bit with the dated hippy gusto of "Crunchy Granola Suite," but what better song to snap the performance back to life than the slow-burning, jubilant anthem "Holly Holy." It was one of the night's clear highlights, with Diamond in great voice and the band laying the simmering groove behind him, and truly ignited the rest of the show into a celebratory affair.