Neil in all his Diamond-ness/ Star Tribune photo by Marlin Levison

Welcome back, Neil Diamond. That was a seamless performance Wednesday at Xcel Energy Center, especially compared to four years ago when he kicked off his U.S. tour here and had some microphone problems and skipped his encore staple “Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show.”

This time, he explained that he’s been coming to St. Paul since 1971 and to Minneapolis since 1970. He understands the difference.

As I explained in my review, the Jagger-skinny Diamond avoided the less than familiar mortality-obsessed ballads he offered in 2008 from his two excellent Rick Rubin produced albums of the ‘00s. (Being 71 with a 42-year-old bride might change one’s outlook on things.) Instead, this was pretty much a greatest hits show, which is what the 16,000 fans wanted.

The 14-member band sounded a bit muted Wednesday but then that probably enabled every concertgoer to hear Diamond’s baritone loud and clear, which is what they wanted. Once again, he neglected to introduce the band members by name, save for Linda Press, who did the “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” duet with him.

Diamond seemed a little less energetic than in previous concerts here but he shrewdly worked the entire room/stage so you didn't really notice. 

At the end of the night, Diamond said: “We hope to see you all again. Soon.” After a triumphant performance like that one, Diamond Heads hope it is indeed real soon.

Here is Wednesday’s set list:
Soolaimon/ Beautiful Noise/ Forever in Blue Jeans/ Hello Again/ Love on the Rocks/ Play Me/ Shilo/ Red Red Wine/ You Got To Me/ Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon/ Cherry Cherry/ Kentucky Woman/ Solitary Man/ Glory Road/ I’m a Believer (both a slow talk-sing version and then a rock version)/ You Don’t Bring Me Flowers/ Crunchy Granola Suite/ Holly Holy/ Sweet Caroline/ I Am…I Said ENCORE Cracklin Rosie/ America/ Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show/ I’ve Been This Way Before

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