No dilution for the pure power. The legendary performance is brought back from the four-decade distance in all its blaze and glory.
On August 24th, 1972 Neil Diamond took to the stage of LA's "Greek Theater" to prove that, faithful to his surname, he was brilliant and sharp. More so, the artist wanted to prove he hadn't mellowed as his latest records - including the most recent, "Moods", of which he chose to perform more than a half - suggested. Not a spent force at all, after his '60s successes, the wildness of those ten sold-out shows in the City of Angels, was reflected in cover image of "Hot August Night", a document of the first one. A lavish proposition in its 2LP form, the album appeared to be a severely truncated recording which is restored now to its full proportions, and is a killer.
High on Neil's denial of "Done Too Soon", this time the concert really comes alive, what with the artist's humorous addresses to the public including his 7-minute introduction of the band who, with Richard Bennett on guitar, rock the acoustically lined "Crunchy Granola Suite" right from the off. A starkly elegant comeback of "Modern Day Version Of Love" is as unexpected as the delivery of freshly cooked, bare-bone "Gitchy Goomy" but, in remastered form, there's an extra kick to the master's old hits such as "Cracklin' Rosie" and "Solitary Man". The latter, in its transparent drama, links classic Diamond to his latter-day Rick Rubin productions and, along with "Girl, You'll Be a Woman Soon", nicely contrasts the orchestra-swept "Sweet Caroline" as well as sparse, solemn, soaring reading of Randy Newman's "I Think Itís Going To Rain Today" - a respectful nod from one great singer-songwriter to the other. Another rediscovery, "Walk On Water", adds a booming jive to the flow, as does slightly banal, if short, "Kentucky Woman".
Diamond's vocals, gritty on the likes of "Holly Holy", border on operatic and vaudevillian in, respectively, "Canta Libre" and his latest playful chart-topper "Song Sung Blue". And there's a good of theatricality throughout - for all the intimacy of the material - that's needed to engage a large audience. So the pairing of "Soolaimon" with "Brother Loveís Travelling Salvation Show" holds a logical grand finale, now, after this expansion of "Hot August Night", even more impressive than ever, and not because of its massive "hallelujah". A milestone.