Neil Diamond 2001-2002 Concert Reviews

Omaha, NE November 9, 2001

From the Omaha World-Herald, Please visit their website!

As the slow drone of a string orchestra began to swell, a huge flag hanging above the three-tiered stage at Omaha's Civic Auditorium Arena lifted, the lights dimmed and the crowd stood.

In darkness, the familiar bass line began. The crowd cheered.

Then, in a bursting spotlight, he appeared.

"Far. We've been traveling far!"

With "America," pop icon Neil Diamond launched into more than two hours of his Top 40 hits and songs off his newest CD, "Three Chord Opera," to a sold-out crowd of more than 9,500 people Friday. He is scheduled to perform another sold-out show tonight at the arena.

Any song Diamond could have picked would have drawn fans to their feet, but his choice of "America" was particularly moving in light of the terrorist attacks, bringing tears to some audience members' eyes. Near the song's end, he substituted the chorus - "They're coming to America" - with "stand up for America." Those who had sat back down jumped to their feet.

With the final notes, his head dropped. Body lunged. Arms swept up, then out. Without a doubt, it was Diamond in all his sparkling glory.

"As they say, music has the power to heal," he said after the second song. "Well, let the healing begin."

With a dose of "Red, Red Wine," some "Cherry, Cherry" and 26 other songs, Dr. Diamond made the rounds, working the front and back of the stage.

During "Girl, You'll Be a Woman Soon," he slowly dropped to his knees, singing the lyrics "please, come take my hand" to a woman in the front row. As they held hands, he caressed her face, creeping farther to the floor until he was lying down, kissing her gently for several seconds at the song's finale.

"He still has it," said Rita Clifton, 52, who traveled far - 150 miles from Orchard, Neb. - to see Diamond for the third time. Clifton said after the show that he didn't do quite as many of the rowdy songs he has before.

Could it be because he turned 60 in January?

"Maybe he's taking it easy on us - we're getting old, too," she said with a laugh.

But this was not a blue-haired crowd by any means. A man holding a 2-year-old girl twirled in a floor aisle, and two twentysomethings said they had several friends who were jealous because they couldn't attend.

Some parents brought their kids. Dave and Marcene Dickes of Sioux Falls, S.D., attended with their sons, Pat, 21, a University of South Dakota junior, and Chris, 24, a Creighton University dental student, who illustrated the generational span by reminiscing about the family's video collection.

He remembers when the family bought "The Jazz Singer" movie - on Beta.

"We've always listened to Neil Diamond on family vacations, on road trips," Chris said.

Diamond, sweat beads glistening like the sparkles in his black shirt, ended the show with "Brother Love's Traveling Salvation Show," with his trademark lunge-bows as the band broke into "America," again.

"Thank you, Omaha!" he yelled. "God bless America!"

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