Neil Diamond 2001-2002 Concert Reviews / Photos


Lubbock, TX 12/3/02

Diamond's slick show keeps fans cheering
A-J Review

BY WILLIAM KERNS
A-J ENTERTAINMENT EDITOR

"Give her a teddy bear."

If Neil Diamond had not already won over the brunt of a near-sellout crowd Tuesday at the United Spirit Arena, he probably earned smiles when a woman carried her little girl to the lip of the stage while he was singing "You'll Be a Woman Soon."

He bussed the girls, both daughter and mother, then stood and soaked in the applause.

But then, Diamond has, over the years, become the live concert rendition of a chick flick. Yes, he works hard; one would be hard-pressed to cite many other 62-year-old musicians who can work a crowd so well.

Yes, the ticket price is visible up on stage, with a 17-person band: three violinists, one cellist, two keyboardists, one drummer, one percussionist, four brass players, two guitarists, one bassist and two backup singers.

Nevertheless, most not all, but certainly most of his Tuesday concert made me wish I had gone to see Diamond in concert many years ago, when my friends were touting him as the ultimate stage entertainer.

Too many songs were dressed up, rather than performed.

With a huge American flag blocking view of the stage, it did not take a stretch of the imagination to figure out that he would open with "Amer ica."

However, I kept looking for his band to precede him on stage. Instead, the flag was raised to high-volume recorded music as Diamond rose to stage level on a hydraulic lift.

It was fancy, but few artists open with recorded music.

With female fans cheering at the first lyric of a song, Diamond very often stopped long enough for fans to express their feelings.

But he also transformed many tunes into talked-songs, reciting lines rather than holding notes. His band of talented musicians was there to add the passion.

Thousands have their favorite Neil Diamond songs. The entertainer may have been at his best Tuesday when he brought his quartet of lovely string players to center stage and sang a pair of songs from "Three Chord Opera." Here, he was celebrating the present instead of the past.


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