Neil Diamond 2001-2002 Concert Reviews

New York, NY October 11-12, 2001
Photos (except NY Post Photo) by Stephanie Jason

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DIAMOND STANDS UP
FOR AMERICA

From the New York Post - Please visit their website!
By DAN AQUILANTE

ny101101post.jpg (12146 bytes)October 13, 2001 -- CALL him a Diamond in the fluff.At Madison Square Garden Thursday, Neil Diamond ran the gamut from sappy to snappy during his extremely generous three-hour, no-break, showman's showman concert.

With no concern for those who say he's the king of schmaltz, Diamond played the first of his two sold-out shows at the arena for fans only, and the crowd loved him for it.

For the devoted, Brooklyn's favorite son could do no wrong, but even those who were less than enthusiastic about the 60-year-old singer had to give him kudos.

If you were willing to wade through the slow stuff (and there was plenty of it), there were a few outstanding moments.

Diamond is nobody's fool. When one of your most popular songs is the musical civics lesson called "America" and you're playing New York, you open with it. Diamond did.

A giant American flag was suspended behind the singer as hand-held Old Glories sprouted about the arena like wildflowers. When Diamond sang the lyric "stand up for America," everybody followed orders.

Later in the concert - when Diamond dedicated his "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother" to New Yorkers and "all of America's heroes" - he ditched the bombast and made the ode to brotherly love poignant.

Both those tunes were notable, but Diamond was at his best when he did snappy pop like "Cracklin' Rosie," "Cherry, Cherry" and "I'm a Believer."

On these tunes, he sprinted about - working the open set as if he were playing the Garden in-the-round.

While you might expect his biggest hit, "Sweet Caroline," to be the night's show stopper, it was shockingly schlocky. Everyone was on their feet singing along and clapping out time with Diamond cheerleading.

It had that feel-good feel - the first time through - but "Caroline" wasn't so sweet the third time Neil worked her over. Good song, but no song is that good.

The center of the concert was also slow and ballad heavy, but even when the sap was running the slowest, Diamond was able to hold your attention with a stage presence that was pure bluster.

 


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American Icon
Neil Diamond shows his colors
at Garden concert

From the New York Daily News - Please visit their website!

By ISAAC GUZMAN
Daily News Feature Writer

If nostalgia has the power to heal, Neil Diamond's Thursday-night concert at Madison Square Garden filled the prescription for many a fan.

A sold-out crowd reveled in Diamond's well-stocked repertoire of hits, most of them dating back 20 years or more to the singer's heyday. But while classics such as "Cherry, Cherry," "Red Red Wine" and "Shilo" were frequently rousing, Diamond's love of bombastic flourishes and cliched ballads occasionally sapped the show's strength.

Dressed in a rhinestone-studded white shirt and black slacks, Diamond first appeared from behind a massive American flag that shrouded the stage. Still fit and vigorous at 60, he struck fist-pumping poses as if he were a glittering action figure.

"If music does indeed have the power to heal, then let the healing begin," Diamond said before performing "Solitary Man."

Backed by a 17-piece band, Diamond updated many of his songs with R&B flourishes and a small string ensemble. While the band generally captured the anthemic quality of Diamond's songs, occasionally the sprawling arrangements made tunes such as "Beautiful Noise" and "Soolaimon" sound overblown and soggy.

The most turgid moments came with Diamond's recent work, featured on his latest album, "Three Chord Opera." Overwrought and frequently cliched, "At the Movies" and "I Believe in Happy Endings" were signs of Diamond's ongoing creative slump. Even the best of the new work, "I Haven't Played This Song in Years," was a faint echo of "Hello Again." Unabashedly sentimental, Diamond walked a thin line between maudlin and magnificent. With "Sweet Caroline," he inspired a roaring sing-along that lasted through two reprises. But his dedication of "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother" to "America's heroes" failed to capture the spirit of the nation's troubles.

Ultimately, Diamond did forge a spirit of rejuvenation in the audience. The boy from Brooklyn had returned to sing for his hometown and his exhortation that they "stand up for America, today" seemed to be just the cheer they had hoped for.

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