Neil Diamond 2001-2002 Concert Reviews

Dallas, TX November 25, 2001

Review: Songs sung red, white, and blue
Neil Diamond wins with a landslide of familiar hits at AAC

11/26/2001

By MARIO TARRADELL / ]

From The Dallas Morning News - Please visit their website!

Neil Diamond poured on the patriotism during the opening of his nearly sold-out show Sunday night at American Airlines Center. Just before he took the stage, a large American flag draped most of the platform. Then, he launched into a rousing rendition of 1980's "America."

It was a sure-fire start. The crowd was up, clapping, singing. The 17-piece band was on the beat. Mr. Diamond was in strong voice. The spotlights swirled around the venue. It felt like a packed political rally with a singer instead of a speaker.

In many ways, Mr. Diamond is a politician in the best sense of the word. For the last 36 years he's been making music for the people. His songs are hearty, melodically and lyrically. With only one listen, they tend to fill you up, make you feel alive. And he delivers his material with plenty of old-school verve. When he's on that stage, he commands attention.

Today, with his hair a little thinner and his midsection a tad wider, Mr. Diamond still performs with the same enthusiasm he displayed decades ago. Simply put, he's a showman. But instead of resorting to cheesy gestures and melodramatic tactics, he just lets his music create the mood.

And man, what a repertoire. How can you argue with pop classics such as "If You Know What I Mean," "Forever in Blue Jeans," "I'm a Believer," "Sweet Caroline," "Solitary Man," and "Cherry, Cherry"? He sang them all. Mr. Diamond's voice may be a bit raspier these days – he has lost some of the smoothness to his baritone – but it's no less powerful.

During select cuts from his new album, Three Chord Opera, Mr. Diamond was quite affecting indeed. "I Haven't Played This Song in Years," which featured three violinists and a cellist playing center stage, was beautiful. The song has a quiet yet majestic mood that works well with the singer- songwriter's robust timbre.

Mr. Diamond recalled the events of Sept. 11 during his introduction for "I Believe in Happy Endings." "It's so important to maintain a sense of optimism," he said, then crooned the heavily orchestrated tune. The song was an enveloping experience, perhaps heavy-handed at times, but it came off genuine.

And yet, clearly the show- stoppers were the recognizable benchmarks of his career. "Forever in Blue Jeans" remained a feel-good anthem. "Sweet Caroline" still sports a killer sing-along chorus. In fact, Mr. Diamond plunged back into the song after he first finished it, egging the audience to sing with him the second time.

So cool. Yes, that word still fits this Brooklyn, New York, native. His songs have been covered by diverse artists such as a reggae group (UB40's version of "Red Red Wine"), an alt-pop band (Smash Mouth's take on "I'm a Believer"), and a moody rock ensemble (Urge Overkill's rendition of "Girl, You'll Be a Woman Soon"). He's left his mark on the grand pantheon of popular music.

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