Neil Diamond 2001-2002 Concert Reviews

State College, PA - February 26, 2002

Sold-out crowd wowed by the legend

022602.jpg (18204 bytes)By Caralyn Green
and Andria Jones
Collegian Staff Writers

Sequins, stars and stripes lit up The Bryce Jordan Center last night when Neil Diamond took to the stage.

Decked out in a sparkling purple blouse and shiny black slacks, Diamond set out to entertain a sold-out crowd of 11,000.

Diamond's overarching theme of the night began with his opening number, the aptly-titled "America." The audience showed their ability to follow directions when the lyrics demanded them to "stand up for America." They flourished flags, clapped their hands and sung along while three massive American flags descended to the stage.

Among those enthusiastic fans were Marianne and Stanley Kakareka. An older couple from Elmhurst, Pa, the Kakarekas were there celebrating Marianne's birthday.

Kakareka, whose favorite Diamond song is "America," said she loves his music because "it's uplifting, it's got rhythm to it."

After Diamond finished his crowd-pleasing opener with outstretched hands, he continued with the bluesy "Mission of Love."

There on their own "mission of love" were Jim Hayes (junior-marketing) and his girlfriend, who bought Hayes the Diamond tickets as a Christmas present.

Hayes said that he has always liked Neil, and explained why there were so few students in attendance. He said, "A lot of younger people don't listen to this music or care to. He's been around for so long."

Before singing "Solitary Man" Diamond declared, "Our country is going through a difficult time. They say music has the power to heal. Let the healing begin."

One concert-goer who believes in Diamond's inspirational message is George Neil, who drove in from Cleveland, Ohio to see the show.

Neil said, "He's phenomenal. He touches people in ways that are unfathomable. I feel this inspiration inside me."

Moving from emotional depth to enthusiastic entertainment, Diamond performed "Red, Red Wine" and "I'm a Believer." Since Diamond's initial release of these songs, other artists have hit the pop charts with covers.

The lights dimmed and the spotlight focused on Diamond as he seductively crooned "Girl You'll be a Woman Soon" to a front-row fan club. As the song progressed, Diamond focused his attention on one lucky "girl," who ended up receiving a smooch she may never forget, even as she becomes a "woman."

The audience went wild for the classic drink-along song "Sweet Caroline."

Pete Shaffalo, a Pittsburgher attending his second Diamond concert in two days, especially enjoyed hearing "Sweet Caroline" live. It reminded him of his wedding reception at which his friends raised him onto their shoulders and he belted out the song.

Diamond's energy kept up throughout the intermission-free show that was full of patriotism, past hits and of course, the sequins.

PHOTO: Alice Oglethorpe
Neil Diamond opens his show with "Coming To America" Tuesday night at the Bryce Jordan Center.

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