Noise there was, and plenty of it. Diamond has been on the road so long, visiting Philadelphia since "19-oh-forget-it," that working the crowd is second nature. And the crowd was ready to be worked, rising to their feet at his command and busting out the call-and-response refrain to "Sweet Caroline" as if they'd done so hundreds of times before — which, of course, they had. Although Diamond dove into a lengthy reminiscence about spending his first big royalty check on a warm coat — a story told on countless occasions — his greatest-hits tour wasn't overly concerned with nostalgia. The audience provided that, deriving as much from their own re-creation of past joys as from the live performance in front of them. (It's no wonder Diamond is a karaoke-bar favorite.)
The arrangements of Diamond's songs have expanded over the years, often becoming sprawling and unwieldy; the trouble with touring in front of a 14-piece band is that he evidently feels the compunction to use it on every song. The impassioned "Shiloh" benefited from the quasi-orchestral swell, but "I Am … I Said" was buried in bombast. Diamond's voice has hardened with age, and he often gave in to the temptation to over-sing, as if trying to reach the top tier without the aid of a microphone. No wonder he was sweating.