Neil Diamond 2001-2002 Concert Reviews

Dublin, Ireland July 5-6, 2002

From The Irish Times

With a career that stretches across four decades, it's not really surprising that peppered across Neil Diamond's weekend concerts at Lansdowne Road - where he played to an estimated 65,000 over two nights - were some genuinely good pop songs. No one can get away with it for that long without pulling some plums out of the basket, and with an unadorned stage production, a 16-piece ensemble band, a sparkly shirt and a largely "Best Of"set, the 61-year-old hitmaker certainly kept the crowd on their feet and on his side.

It's a pity, then, that the very good material (including I Am I Said, Play Me, September Morn, Shilo, Soolaimon, Yes I Will and several more) was outweighed by the more obvious choices, the songs that for some - and through no fault of his own, it would seem - undermine his status as one of the Top 20 most successful popular artists in the USA.

The wedding band and karaoke favourites kept on coming: Sweet Caroline, Forever In Blue Jeans, Song Sung Blue, You Don't Bring Me Flowers, songs where clammy hands were touching hands, reaching out, touching me, touching you. Songs that, needless to say, were by far the most well received. As if to drive the point home, and to rankle those of a sensitive nature (not many, I'll warrant), Diamond let rip on Sweet Caroline three times, making Lansdowne, for 10 minutes or so, the biggest cabaret/karaoke bar in Ireland.

Diamond himself comes across as a sincere, honest type, amiably humorous, blending show stopping mulch with heartfelt, reflective, inherently melodic material, in the way that only a songwriter of his age and era can.

Quality control is subjective, and selfless performances are the name of the game, yet there were times when you wished he would cut out the dross in the name of mass entertainment. He's a Brooklyn boy, after all - wouldn't it be a good idea if he started playing the clubs again?

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