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Summerfest Daily Highlights: Sunday, July 8

Neil Diamond, The B-52s and Squeeze

Jun. 20, 2012
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Neil Diamond
Marcus Amphitheater, 7:30 p.m.

Brooklyn-born Neil Diamond may have launched his career some 50 years ago, but he's fully embracing the present moment. He tours, records, tweets and has inspired a handful of pretty remarkable tribute acts. But accept no substitute when the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member performs at Summerfest. The man in black and sequins has written a slew of much-loved songs in a variety of genres that have stood the test of time and influenced subsequent songwriters. And no one works a crowd like Neil Diamond, whether he's rocking out to “Cherry, Cherry,” making the ladies swoon with “Play Me,” leading a sing-along to “Sweet Caroline” or plumbing the maudlin depths of “I Am…I Said” and “You Don't Bring Me Flowers.” His charisma—and a healthy dose of schmaltz—will win you over. Expect a multi-generation crowd and lots of adoration. —Lisa Kaiser

The B-52s

BMO Harris Pavilion with Miller Lite, 9:45 p.m.

This Athens, Ga.-based party-rock group may be among the least likely of bands to be embraced by the masses, but The B-52s have decades of radio hits and chart-toppers to their credit. They gained quick cult success in the late 1970s for songs that didn't sound like anything else on the radio—or anything else on this planet. “Rock Lobster,” released in 1978, must have blown the minds of music lovers who were suffering through the Saturday Night Fever and Grease era. But time was on The B-52s' side. Their more conventional singles, like “Love Shack,” “Roam” and “Deadbeat Club,” were mainstream hits in the 1980s, although The B-52s stayed true to themselves. Kate Pierson, Fred Schneider, Keith Strickland and Cindy Wilson are celebrating their 35th anniversary as a group and they still sound as fresh—and delightfully wacky—as ever. —Lisa Kaiser

Briggs & Stratton Big Backyard with Coors Light and Tap Milwaukee, 9:30 p.m.

In 1975, when Glenn Tilbrook and Chris Difford formed the band that became Squeeze, “new wave” referred to French films from the '50s and '60s. And yet, within a few short years, Squeeze became one of the ultimate new wave groups, defined by smart lyrics wedded to memorable melodies and a sound distilled from '60s pop and rock.

Shifting membership and numerous breakups and reunions have left the Squeeze chronicle in a hopeless tangle. The names to remember are Tilbrook and Difford, whose albums under their own names tend to be remembered as Squeeze records. Although more popular in their U.K. homeland than in the United States, Squeeze scored a trio of hits with “Tempted,” “Hourglass” and “853-5937,” and at least one album stands as a pop classic—the Elvis Costello-produced East Side Story.

Tilbrook and Difford promise a disc of new tunes for 2013. Meanwhile, fans must content themselves with the cheekily-titled Live at the Fillmore (only on iTunes and limited-edition vinyl) and the rather goofy Spot the Difference, a re-recording of old songs that invites listeners to, yes, spot the difference between them and the originals. —David Luhrssen


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