The Columbus Dispatch

by Curtis Schieber

Neil Diamond's concert stage occupied the Schottenstein Center last night looking like the craft in Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

The singer's two-hour-plus set took place on a gigantic carousel with a rotating stage, with several recessed pits for the nine-piece band. A huge rack of dazzling lights made it look as if it might take off.

From the first note of Beautiful Noise, Diamond charmed the audience of approximately 17,500 fans. The make-up of the audience reflected his more than 30-year career, during which he has dabbled in 1960s rock, show music, country stylings, radio pop, and even dance music. Most in attendance also seemed curious about the new arena, which was hosting its first musical event.

"I've played a few of these," Diamond said. "This one will be around for a while." His praise was confirmed by the audience reaction and the sound, which was distinct and full-bodied, clearly audible and never overbearing.

But Diamond's performance, which reflected his decades of performing, won the audience. He was garrulous and attentive; his broad gestures spoke to the upper decks as well as to the squealing female fans at his feet.

In black slacks and a glittery, blousy red shirt, he delivered a handful of tunes from his new movie-themed double album as well as a slew of oldies.

Old friends such as Solitary Man, Cherry, Cherry and Song Sung Blue reminded of the 1960s Diamond with verve, while selections from the film The Jazz Singer brought back the mushy enterprises of the late-1970s and 1980s.

Still, the crowd responded to the bombastic patriotism of a selection from The Jazz Singer as though they were at a revival, or a Garth Brooks concert.

The classic You Don't Bring Me Flowers, which scored major success as a duet with Barbra Streisand, elicited an equally passionate but more reserved reaction. It identified yet another of the singer's styles, which he recreated well.

Not so, for tunes from Diamond's newest disc, though, especially the ill-advised cover of Cole Porter's I've Got You Under My Skin interspersed with One For My Baby.

Though a few songs from the album are saved by interesting string arrangements, in concert the singer's lack of nuance sunk songs such as the Porter tune and As Time Goes By.

It mattered little, though. Diamond and his Vegas-styled show scored all night.

His version of Sweet Caroline brought down the house.

After baiting the audience--unnecessarily--to make him do it again, he obliged to deafening applause. The arena seemed happy to house the pandemonium, promising many more such lively events.

Copyright 1998 The Columbus Dispatch

Fan Review

by Teresa Noell

...Now the important stuff---Solitary Man AND Shilo were performed (Quite Well!) and the encore included Brother Love, Holly Holy, and I've Been This Way Before, which closed the show.....

My own personal opinion: Neil sounds better now than he has since at least 1986, (Ohio concerts, anyway) and can still MOVE with the best of 'em. He and Linda blended very well this time, and I LOVED the inclusion of Sabre Dance as an instrumental piece (it is a personal favorite). The tour book is terrific!

I was with three generations of Neil fans---my mom, me , and my 4-year-old neice---- and we all had a great time. We don't care WHAT the reviewers might say, Neil sings the Movie Songs better than Sinatra OR Presley. Of course, more NEIL songs are ALWAYS welcome....

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