A 21st-Century Neil Diamond concert is a slick affair: an elder pop statesman at ease in his superstar environment entertaining a generations-spanning audience with singalongs and a healthy dose of showbiz patter. Back in 1972, however, he was considered a hip young thing, the denim-clad figure on the sleeve of this live album striking a rock god pose Robert Plant would be proud of.
Having made a name for himself as a songwriter in the late 60s, Diamond the performer was still a relatively new commodity, but a big enough noise to have sold out 10 straight nights at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles. This expanded version of the original album reinstates the singer’s stage banter and adds three songs – most pleasingly a version of his early dramatic ballad A Modern Day Version Of Love and a moody cover of Randy Newman’s I Think It’s Going To Rain Today.
Diamond’s at his fiery best on the upbeat numbers, leading his exemplary band’s charge through Cherry Cherry, Crunchy Granola Suite and Cracklin’ Rosie. For the most intense illustration of his skill as a master showman, look no further than Brother Love’s Travelling Sensation Show, where the brimstone testifying of gospel collides head on with forceful West Coast rock.