Neil Diamond himself occupies a cultural space not far from Tom Jones: older folks love him genuinely, and the younger set do so too, only with a little tongue-in-cheek. Super Diamond, the San Francisco sextet who’ve spent 13 years on the Diamond beat, have capitalized on the latter. They’ve packed the Paradise Rock Club 10 times since 2001. Last Thursday, college final exams kept the crowd down to around 350.
Only two Super Diamonds — singer Surreal Neil (né Randy Cordero) and bassist Mark Tidmarsh — have been at it from the get-go. Others joined along the way as the tribute band became a lucrative business. But as Cordero has always pointed out, Super Diamond don’t just ape their idol, they interpret his songs through the lens of late-’70s hard rock and early-’80s new wave. It’s not laden with irony, just louder and harder than contemporary Neil, who still sells out the big arenas. Indeed, Neil Diamond has joined Super Diamond twice, the first time slinking on stage in a trenchcoat and baseball cap to sing “I Am . . . I Said,” the second time to sing a couple of tunes during a Saving Silverman cast party.
This time at the Paradise, Super Diamond weren’t super, just sufficient. They ripped through the set, with one song bleeding into the next for nearly two hours of Neil nuggets — “Cracklin’ Rosie,” “Sweet Caroline,” and a closing assemblage of “Solaimon,” “Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show,” “I Am . . . I Said,” and “America.” Cordero, who wore a black sequined shirt and black flared slacks, looked the most like Diamond. But the bassist and guitarist flanking him sported mega-sideburns, and two electric keyboardists supplied layers of cushiony support. Cordero’s vocal timbre is dead-on Diamond, but his voice was swallowed up too much during the show, which wandered from Diamond’s repertoire to have a little fun with the Cars’ “Just What I Needed” and Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way.” It was like high-grade zirconia — fun and funny, but with a sense of ersatz. Not quite cheap, but a guilty pleasure all the same.
: Live Reviews
, Aerosmith, Neil Diamond, Tom Jones, More