Neil Diamond 2001-2002 Concert Reviews

Dayton, OH November 17, 2001
Photos by Shelley Beckwith

nd1.jpg (8637 bytes)DAYTON DAILY NEWS REVIEW

Sparkling Diamond uplifting
By Dale Huffman
e-mail address:
Dayton Daily News

With everything we all have been forced to deal with since Sept. 11, a good number of Miami Valley folks were made to feel better Saturday night with more than two hours of a soothing, spiritual and healing diversion.

Neil Diamond delivered the goods.

"I hear that music has the power to heal," he told the cheering crowd at the E.J. Nutter Center. "If that’s so, let the healing begin."

With a killer schedule and so many obligations, I simply don’t have the luxury of getting out to concerts very often.

piano2.jpg (12968 bytes)I almost turned him down when my friend Bob Phillips, chief photographer for Channel 2 News, called a few weeks ago and invited me to attend the Diamond concert with him, his wife, Carol, and their daughter, Sharon.

Bob had a serious scare in the past year and fought his way back after an aneurysm put him in the hospital.

"With all the things happening in our lives, it”s important to live for each moment," he said. "None of us have been to a concert in years. Let’s live. Let’s do it. Let’s just go."

So I accepted. There were the usual traffic jams at Nutter and the lines were long, but it was one of the neatest gifts I have been blessed to receive in a long, long time.

It was a soaring, free-spirited experience that took off the minute the swell of the horns and strings in the orchestra signaled the start of America. As Diamond’s silhouette appeared and he raised his voice in song, it brought the audience to shouts and to its feet.

In fact, it was a night of standing ovations and singing along.

Wearing black slacks and his trademark glass-beaded, billowing white shirt, Diamond worked the crowd, with his arms, his voice and his melodies. At age 60, he made it clear he still loves what he does and he still has power, depth, tone and pitch to do the job well.

"I love you, Dayton," he called out. "All 11,462 of us celebrate together. Thanks for being here. We are all survivors."

It was a solo show, with no intermission, lots of light effects but few theatrics. It was simplicity, with Diamond mixing in the favorites his fans came to hear along with a few additions from his newest album, Three Chord Opera.

When he introduced the song I Believe in Happy Endings, I looked around and the women near me were wiping tears from their eyes.

But soon the show took on the air of a revival again with the energy and warmth overflowing as concertgoers jumped to their feet to dance and sing along to Cracklin Rose, Holy Holy and then Sweet Caroline, with the haunting words, "good times never seemed so good."

nd2.jpg (7774 bytes)He spoke of the heroes in New York, the uncertain times we face and the need to go on. And he dedicated He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother to firefighters and police officers.

After the encores, as we got ready to leave, I got some instant reviews from those seated near us.

One word reactions from three friends who sat behind us. "Awesome," said Wanda Whitley. Jeannie Weidlich of Centerville called the concert "super," and Lynn Gilbert of Beavercreek said it was "spiritual."

And next to me were Judy and Ron Kress of Centerville, who have been married 44 years. Their seats cost $70 each and they bought the tickets as a Christmas gift to each other.

It was the first concert they have attended together.

Her eyes sparkling, her face aglow with a smile, Judy said, "What a night. It just makes you feel so good."

It certainly did that.

Thanks, Bob and Carol, for dragging these weary bones out of the house. Music still heals and touches the soul and the experience felt just right at this particular moment.

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Diamond fans, too, engaging

By Dale Huffman
e-mail address:
Dayton Daily News

Dear Neil Diamond fans,

piano1.jpg (8334 bytes)I have one thing to say to you. You guys are awesome and have lured me right into a real Neil deal.

As I write these words Dayton Daily News in Dayton, Ohio, I am now savvy enough to know that this column will be spread out and shared by Neil Diamond fans on a number of Internet sites around the world.

After Neil brought down the house at the E. J. Nutter Center last week, I wrote about how my friends dragged me to the concert, but how much I enjoyed the experience.

Considering all the things going on in the nation, in the world, it was nice to be uplifted by over two hours of entertainment by a man who has this gift of grabbing an audience and mesmerizing it.

The column got grabbed up by you guys, was sent out and shared on the Internet sites where you greet each other every day.

It has been neat hearing from so many of you.

"Your column was a link on the Neil Diamond Web site," wrote Pat Steiner of Cincinnati. "It was great that you liked Neil. My daughter and I attended the concert. We had row 7 seats. We both truly enjoyed ourselves. It was a very uplifting evening. He really plays to the audience."

From Sarasota, Fla., where he now lives, Steve Tatone, a former Daytonian who is a Neil Diamond fan was in touch. Tatone had incorporated some of Diamond's music into his local automobile dealership commercials years ago. He spotted the column on the Internet.

"Sounds like you had a great time," he wrote. "Linda (his wife) and I are looking forward to Neil's Florida shows in February."

Karein Thieme is German, and a big Diamond fan, and sends a response from Germany. "I had my first Neil Diamond encounter back in 1971 when I Am-I Said was released. I am a diehard Diamondhead," she wrote. "Your review was super. Neil is not just a wonderful singer, songwriter and performer, but a wonderful human being, too. Neilove from Karin."

Debbie Everly shared the fact that she was at the Nutter concert and has been to six Diamond concerts this year. "The man just performs with every emotion full throttle and connects so well to us, his audience," she wrote. "He doesn't always get the respect he deserves in the press."

By the way, how nice is this? She invited me to attend the Dec. 31 Diamond concert at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas with her party. I appreciate the gesture so much but I just can't get away.

Linda Holloway of Englewood said she loved the concert. "I was there with my daughter who has been with me at every Neil Diamond concert since she was 8 years old," Holloway wrote. "She is now 28. She adores him as much as I do."

Holloway added, "Neil is one of the finest entertainers of our generation. I just wish I had been the gal who was serenaded by Neil."

By the way, who was that woman? Neil laid down on the stage during the local concert, leaned over, singing to the woman, and at the end of the love song planted a long firm kiss.

Finally, Leigh Schweickart, a kindergarten teacher in Trotwood was in touch. "I am 27 and I loved the concert," she said. "At kindergarten last week during rest time I played some of Neil's greatest hits. The little children loved the music and one child told me he liked Neil because his voice was so moving. Never in my wildest dreams would I think the kids in my class would become addicted to Neil Diamond. I wish Neil knew that he has some new very young fans."

Yeah. It would be neat if the Big Star himself would get a chance to read about this thing we have going and could respond in some way.

In the meantime my thanks to you N.D. fans for being so responsive and so kind. This is fun.


Dale Huffman

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