Neil Diamond 2001-2002 Concert Reviews

Seattle, WA December 5-6, 2001

From The SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER, Please visit thier website!

Old pro Diamond is smooth and polished
Friday, December 7, 2001

By GENE STOUT
SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER POP MUSIC CRITIC

Neil Diamond is one of the hottest arena-level acts on the road this fall -- for several reasons.


MUSIC review
NEIL DIAMOND

WHEN: Wednesday night

WHERE: KeyArena


The first is obvious: He's Neil Diamond, a four-star entertainer with decades of experience and dozens of hit songs.

The other reasons may not be so obvious.

Diamond, who has survived so many music trends, is now part of one -- pop nostalgia among the young. The 60-year-old singer has inspired dozens of tribute bands, notably the cover group Super Diamond, and attracted a legion of new fans under 30.

And in a post-Sept. 11 America, Diamond's show is unabashedly patriotic without being crass.

With Old Glory hanging above the stage, Diamond opened Wednesday night's show at KeyArena with a rousing version of "America" from his 1981 remake of "The Jazz Singer." When he sang the line, "Stand up for America," the entire crowd rose to its feet and cheered.

The trim-looking star, dressed in black slacks, shoes and sequined shirt, was backed by a 17-piece orchestra that featured four horn players, four string players and two background vocalists.

Instead of performing "in the round," as he often did in the '90s, Diamond sang from a wide stage situated at one end of KeyArena. The stage was equipped with steps leading down to small platforms, allowing interaction with concertgoers in the front.

The spontaneous clapping that is part of every Diamond show erupted during "A Mission of Love," one of the best songs from his new album, "Three Chord Opera." It's his first collection of new, original songs in many years.

Diamond paused to talk about "what the country's been going through" and told the cheering crowd, "They say music has the power to heal. If that's so, let the healing begin!"

The show was nicely paced, with set-the-world-on-fire rockers evenly balanced with romantic tunes and melancholy ballads. The reflective "Solitary Man" preceded "Cherry, Cherry," "Red, Red Wine" and a boisterous "I'm a Believer," a hit for the Monkees in 1966.

A season showman, Diamond often teased fans. Before singing "Play Me," he warned the audience that the song made him so emotional he might need a "hanky." When several women rushed to the stage with handkerchiefs, Diamond dutifully mopped his forehead with each and returned it to its owner. But a fourth woman produced a bra, bringing howls of laughter.

During "Girl, You'll Be a Woman Soon," two young women in T-shirts approached the stage and began hyperventilating when Diamond sang to them while lying on his side. At the end of the song, he tenderly kissed them, and then pretended to pass out. "Does anybody have a cigarette?" he asked after getting up. "I didn't know the girls were that hot."

Diamond followed with several songs from his new album. Three violinists and a cellist accompanied him at the front of the stage. None of the songs, however, created the excitement generated by his older songs. Some of the best audience participation came during "Sweet Caroline," which Diamond turned into a sing-along.

Diamond concluded his show with an explosive version of "Brother Love's Traveling Salvation Show" and a reprise of "America."



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