Neil Diamond 2001-2002 Concert Reviews

Charleston, SC - March 9, 2002

CHARLESTON POST AND COURIER REVIEW

Neil Diamond brings patriotic theme to sold-out show

Sunday, March 10, 2002
BY EDWARD C. FENNELL
Of The Post and Courier Staff

REVIEW
The "Beautiful Noise" returned to North Charleston Coliseum on Saturday night.
Neil Diamond's third sold-out performance at the coliseum was a lot like his first two: chock full of foot-stomping, hand-clapping oldies from his impressive repertoire of hits and sprinkled with sentimental ballads - old and new.
This time, though, Diamond injected a patriotic theme into the show.
As a huge American flag vanished into the rafters, Diamond roused the more than 10,400 ticket holders with "They're Coming to America." In the past (he packed the coliseum in 1993 and 1998), that classic tune was simply a part of the show. But in the wake of Sept. 11, the New York-born, 61-year-old singer-songwriter used it to launch a patriotic rally.
"Stand up for America," he implored the very receptive audience. "If music truly has the power to heal," he declared, "then let the healing begin."
Later, Diamond dedicated music to the 9-11 heroes, specifically firefighters. Following the encore performances, he left the stage to the echoes of "Coming to America." He also sang a song for late band member Vince Charles.
Diamond sang some selections from his new album, "Three Chord Opera." But for most of the two-hour show, he treated the crowd to his wonderful repertoire of oldies that span the musical catalog from rock to blues to tender ballads to opera to gospel. He thanked Charleston for the receptions his show has received here and took the time to charm a local woman.
After speaking about his "sensitive male side," he sang the soft and seductive "Play Me," and motioned to a tall, blonde woman in the first row. Cheryl Whitfield of Charleston walked to the edge of the stage and Diamond held her hand and sang to her romantically.
Diamond lowered himself to the stage floor and on his side sang passionately, kissed Whitfield, faked a fainting and asked if anyone had a cigarette - all to the delight of Whitfield and the slightly shocked audience.
"I just couldn't believe it. He was really calling me," Whitfield said after the show. She said that after the kiss, she was "trying to get my lipstick off of him."
She went home with her husband, a good sport who said he didn't object to his wife's encounter with the singer, and a teddy bear from the band.
Diamond sang with band mate Linda Press what is perhaps the best-ever male-female duet: "You Don't Bring Me Flowers."
He alternately had the audience on its feet - singing with him, clapping and dancing. At other times, the audience sat reverently as he opened his lonely heart and troubled head.
With his 17-piece band behind him, truly "good times never seemed so good" as the audience sang along to the familiar tunes. But what is often overlooked is Diamond's ability to entertain, to keep 10,400 people silent in their seats while using only a guitar or piano - and that deep, resonate voice.

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