Neil Diamond 2001-2002 Concert Reviews

Miami, FL - February 21, 2002


Miami Herald Review

POP MUSIC
Diamond shines, and crowd of all ages delights in glitter
BY HOWARD COHEN
hcohen@herald.com

Somewhere along the way Neil Diamond got hip again. Yes. Neil Diamond. Sixty-one-year-old Neil Diamond. The pop singer-songwriter's last Top 40 single was I'm Alive in 1983 but it proved aptly named. Diamond drew a sell-out crowd of 14,512 to AmericanAirlines Arena in downtown Miami Thursday night.

REVIEW

It's not difficult to understand his appeal. The man is a consummate performer. His songs are catchy and enduring. Diamond's fans are of all ages these days and he moves all of them. Thursday, his supporters in the house included his mother Rose (''The most influential person here; she picked out the color shirt I'm wearing tonight'') and his uncle Jule.

Seems everyone loved Neil, save a 2-year-old girl in the front row who clung tightly to her father when Diamond sang, perhaps prematurely, Girl, You'll Be a Woman Soon, directly to her from the lip of the stage. ''You're right, darling,'' Diamond said, waving to the nervous child afterward, ``don't fall for the first guy that comes knocking at your door.''

She'll come around. They all do. With the soul of an old-time preacher man and several pseudo-gospel songs in his arsenal like Holly Holy and Brother Love's Traveling Salvation Show, the genial Diamond elevated his fans out of their seats often. His opening America fed right into the flag-waving mood sweeping the country since Sept. 11. During the song's ''My country tis of thee'' portion, three flags draped the stage and earned a rapturous reception. A little over two hours later Diamond concluded with the rousing Brother Love's Traveling Salvation Show, complete with a house of worship-style testimonial conducted from a raised platform.

Part of Diamond's endurance is that pop culture keeps reviving him. Most recently when last summer's smash comedy Shrek prominently featured his '60s tune, I'm a Believer.

Diamond's current tour, supporting his Three Chord Opera CD, featured a newly added string and horn section and the horns, in particular, helped freshen '60s classics like the moody Solitary Man and punchy I'm a Believer. Diamond's rough voice struggled early in the show on ballads like Play Me but grew smoother and warmer by the concert's midpoint when he performed his dramatic new ballad, I Haven't Played This Song in Years, arguably his finest composition in two decades. The show's only flaw was drummer Ron Tutt, a veteran of Elvis Presley's band, whose overly mannered pulse robbed percussive songs like Soolaimon and Shilo of power.

Otherwise, with his oft-parodied grand hand gestures and a hint of Vegas permeating the night, it was simply classic Diamond and that act has served him well for nearly 40 years.

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