TX:Promoted by Nederlander. reviewed Aug. 20, 1996; closed, Aug. 21. Returning to Anaheim for first time since a 1969 Convention Center appearance, Neil Diamond used the opportunity for a typical show: a career retrospective from “Solitary Man” on, featuring a segment of material from his current album, “Tennessee Moon.” The new disc is the singer-songwriter’s first to be recorded in Nashville, and first to consist of collaborations with other writers. Intermissionless, the 135-minute set included a lot of songs, chosen (it seems) and paced for maximum impact on a live audience, and not necessarily the best showcase of material. While the material varied commendably in tempo, much of it was performed as if Diamond were still portraying Al Jolson and aiming for the furthest reaches of the Pond without benefit of a microphone. The show was performed in the round, so sightlines were relatively short, and Diamond, of course, did have a microphone, with plenty of amps behind it.
All of this played very well to capacity-plus crowd (Diamondannounced 19,322) , who spent much time on their feet and broke into fits of swaying during numbers such as “Song Sung Blue” (never enough of them to constitute a “wave,” though).
Still, the “Tennessee Moon” segment, performed with Hadley Hockensmith on acoustic guitar, bassist Reinhold Press, drummer Ron Tutt, and Alan Lindgren on fiddle, showed that Diamond’s audience could handle something relatively quiet, even if “One Good Love,””Marry Me” and set’s musical highlight, the Everly Brothers-meet-ZZ-Top-styled “No Limit,” don’t exactly qualify as subtle. At least the musical treatment was a change of pace from the rest of the show, in which Diamond’s excellent band was often reduced to a sort of ambient murk.
While the p.a. system may not have been up to Diamond’s usual crisp standard, the staging itself was topnotch, with band atop a roundish rotating platform topped by large number of Vari-Lites and lasers, and American flags dropping from the rim during “America.” Special credit should be given Linda Press for her powerful part in duet “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers.”
One can understand why Diamond may tire of performing many of the same songs for between 15 and 30 years, and also understand fans’ desire to hear them one more time. So perhaps it’s time to reframe some of the oldies, if only to refresh the singer and his band.