Stand-up Kiel crowd can't get enough of Neil Diamond

The St Louis Post-Dispatch

By Brad L. Graham

Neil Diamond's show Friday night at the Kiel Center was sold out but there was hardly a soul in the arena's seats. The cheering, clapping crowd spent most of its time on its feet, swaying and singing along with the enduring pop superstar. If the audience's energy was high, though, Diamond seemed inexhaustible. Accompanied by his nine-piece band, the singer plowed through almost three decades of hits in a nonstop show. Although he released a new double-album filled with songs from the movies just a few months ago, Diamond concentrated on the music his fans know best and was rewarded for it with sustained cheering. From "Hello, Again" to "Sweet Caroline," he delighted the crowd with his signature stylings, ambling easily around the 360-degree stage in the center of Kiel. The mammoth, rotating stage set and extravagant light show were a good match for Diamond's occasionally overwrought performance style, but he would have fared just as well with the fans with only a milk crate and a flashlight.

They were there to hear the classic songs, and Diamond didn't disappoint. Neither did he divorce himself from interacting with the crowd. Although there was rarely a pause between numbers, Diamond often took the opportunity to approach the stage apron and hold hands with a female fan, crooning only to her and then sealing the encounter with a kiss.

Diamond also led gleeful sing-alongs of "Song Sung Blue" and "Sweet Caroline." Far from hiding the talented musicians who accompanied him, Diamond positioned them at the outer ring of the stage and they too interacted playfully with the crowd. The band even had an opportunity to shine on its own, as Diamond took a break while members performed his instrumental "Sabre Dance."

There was a sampling of songs from "The Movie Album," including "Unchained Melody" and "Can't Help Falling in Love." Diamond's recitation of film songs fares considerably better in live performance than on the album itself. His doubling of two classic Sinatra songs, "I've Got You Under My Skin" and "One for My Baby" was a tender treat.

But the biggest cheers and the most exuberance by the singer himself were reserved for audience favorites. "Forever in Blue Jeans" found the crowd dancing in the aisles, and selections from "Jonathan Livingston Seagull" and "The Jazz Singer" (including the obligatory unfurling of flags when Diamond hoarsely cried "America") were favorites.

Copyright (c) 1998 St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Fan Reviews

Success has not made Neil Diamond a lazy performer on the stage. Friday nights' show at The Kiel Center in St. Louis was no exception. This was the fifth time I had seen Neil, first in 1987. The usual spectacular laser light show which always got the crowd pumped up at the beginning was noticably absent from last nights' concert. Neil was relying totally on the music, so it was like drinking a great tasting cup of coffee for the first time without the cream. The Movie Album material (recently released) was done in Neils' own unique style and better than what I had expected. Except for the first song or so, I felt Neils' voice sounded better this time around than any time I had seen him previous. He hit a high note a couple times which I did not think his vocal range would allow. The instrumental number (also written by Neil) to showcase the talents of the band was outstanding. From where we were sitting, front row Mezzanine Level, on one side close to the stage, the volume level could have easily been cranked up a notch or two higher without any discomfort to the concertgoers. During the show Neil respectfully and modestly paid tribute to those who came before him, Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley. As great as both former entertainers were, with the exception of motion pictures, neither had the consistancy and worldwide crowd drawing power of Neil Diamond and neither Frank nor Elvis were songwriters. Warren C.

I was fortunate enough to attend the concert in St Louis Friday December 4th. As usuall, Neil was excellent. And strangely enough from years past, the St Louis crowd was much more responsive! A packed arena and Neil had the place rocking. Im not sure if Neil has been doing this at his other shows, but at the end of Sweet Caroline, Neil did one encore of the song, then after that, stopped the band after they had started the next song to teach the audience how to sing along better, you know the bum bum bums! It was hilarious. And two lucky lady's got to approach Neil on stage and get kisses for the road! Neil included a couple songs that were welcome additions to the usual fare. My only disappointment is that he has stopped using the lasers this show. But other than that fantastic

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