FEBUARY 11, 1999
by LINDA HIGGINS
Here's a little known fact : Irish fans of Neil Diamond invented the woo-woo-woo chant in Sweet Caroline.
According to the great man himself, it was Irish audiences who added those extra words to the world's most famous karoke song! Diamond seemed genuinely delighted to be back in Dublin last night. His inventive in-the-round stage was home to nine musicians.
The sequinned-shirted man with the silken voice made sure that the hits came fast. Hello Again, Girl You'll Be A Woman Soon, Play Me, Forever In Blue Jeans, America, Love On The Rocks .....it was a spine - tingling experience to listen to thousands of people singing along with these classics.
Diamond recently released his 44th album. It features classic movie tracks, and he sang a few , including As Time Goes By and I've Got You Under My Skin .The man more than a fist of singing Sinatra - and then belted out brilliant songs like Song Sung Blue , Cracklin' Rosie and Sweet Caroline all in a row.
The encore of a two hour entertainment packed and spirit-lifting show included You
Don't Bring Me Flowers and I Am I Said. It was the best singalong I've had since a 1983
school tour. I envy those with tickets for the next five shows.
(The is the text of a review that appeared in the Irish equivalent of
Rolling Stone magazine).......
by NICK KELLY
It's only on nights like these that you realize quite how popular Neil Diamond is. He may be middle aged and middle-of-the-road, but he is completely adored by the granny-next-door the silent majority who only come out once in an Everton home win. Tonight, though, they're far from silent as the object of their elation strikes up his Beautiful Noise.
What follows during the next two and a half hours is by turns brilliant, bland and bizarre - bizarre because Diamond spends the evening literally going round in circles , perched as he is at the apex of a rotating stage while under him is his 100 piece band (well you try counting them) do their AOR thing, making the whole contraption seem like a giant music box when viewed from the lofty heights of the balcony. Somewhere on this merry-go-round are two white-haired keyboard players facing each other, both wearing headphones and looking for all the world like one half of the Septaguenarian Kreftwerk.
The brilliant parts are of course when Diamond wraps his warm Brooklyn baritone around such classic songs as 'Girl You'll Be A Woman Soon', his faintly menacing rites-of-passage ballad which even Quentin Taratino digs. Then there's the triple whammy of 'Song Sung Blue' , 'Cracklin' Rosie' and 'Sweet Caroline' during which Diamond's back catalogue seems to be like a one man karaoke jukebox. But there's no denying his way with a chorus and when it comes to milking these populist anthems for all there worth, he knows his way round the udder.
But before the singalong there's the serenade with 'Unchained Melody', 'I've Got You Under My Skin' and 'Cant Help Falling In Love With You', all given the Nelson Riddle treatment by his band. Nice. But there's a lot of guff in here as well : the section of songs from the Jonathon Livingston Seagull soundtrack, for instance , are full of the kind of epic , elemental metaphors and sweeping idealism normally associated with an American presidents' State Of The Nation address. And 'You Don't Bring Me Flowers, a deliciously bitter post mortem on an atrophied relationship is ruined by Diamond's backing singer, who takes the Barbara Streisand's part and gives it the full Celine Dion shock therapy. Ouch! Cue the lighted joss-sticks - or if you were the woman in front of me, the flashing bicycle light(!), which did nothing to help Diamond in his quest to invest this oversized dockhands shed with a touch of old-school Vegas glitz.
But it has to be acknowledged: fleetingly during say, the impassioned verses of 'I Am I Said ' , as he stands there in his black sequin shirt, his arm held dramatically aloft in an unconscious mimic of the Statue Of Liberty, he pulls it off.
I have to say I was little apprehensive about Neils return to the concert
platform.No particular reason I geuss,I suppose it's just that as Neil grows a
older (don't we all),that somehow the magic would start to wane.
But I could not have been more wrong as Neil strode onto the stage of Dublins
Point Depot looking every inch as confident and assured as he ever has done
throughout 30 plus years of performing.His voice too was in pretty good shape
and indeed got increasingly vibrant as the performance went on.
The Point is an intriguing venue which began life as a railway depot and as
you enter its stone clad interior it is difficult not to imagine than on non
concert days it still doubles up as an engine shed.
But what it might lack in cosmetics it makes up for in the warmth provided by
the locals and an intimacy that only an 8000 seat venue can generate.
Indeed tickets were hard to come for Neils six night stand,with most scalpers
looking to buy rather than sell.
Neil opened the show as he has done throughout the tour so far,with Beautiful
Noise,quickly followed by Hello Again,which prior to Neil announced that
"Dublin represented the greatest of audiences".
Neil then launched into the ever excellent If You Know What I Mean, followed
by a batch of Bang classics which just seem to mature with time and the sheer
good time feel of Cherry Cherry and Thank The Lord For Nightime soon had the
audience in the palm of his hand,that's not to forget that Solitary Man and
Shilo possess a sensitivity and poignancy that I believe has become more
evident and appreciated as the years have gone on.Fact is that Neil has never
reduced these songs to mere medley fodder,rather that he has always allowed
them to breathe and establish their own identity.
The first real surprise of the evening came when Neil introduced and sung
Brooklyn Roads,I know Neil has sung this number in recent years but I have
never before seen him sing it live in Europe,in his introduction to the
song,Neil likened the streets of Dublin to those of Brooklyn.There is no doubt
that Neil holds a genuine affection for the city and its people.
From here on in we had classics such as Play Me and Forever in Blue Jeans,the
Jonathan Seagull segment as well his Jazz Singer classics America and Love on
the Rocks,plus a rare outing for Amazed and Confused.
After the well recieved band intro (Dance Of The Sabres),Neil sung four
selections from The Movie Album of which Unchained Melody and Can't Help
Falling In Love were undoubtadly the favourites with the audience.
A momentus Sweet Caroline was next up and Neil again praised the Dublin
crowd,crediting them for the birth of the audience participation that was
first exposed worldwide on Neils live recordings from Dublin included on the
'66-'92 Hits collection.
However Neil introduced a new edge to the song by cajoling the audience into
an additional "So Good,So Good, So Good " line......needless to say the
Dubliners responded admirably.
The home run included all of the classics including,'Flowers,Cracklin'
Rosie,Holly Holy a re instated Crunchy Granola suite and concluded with
As the crowd eased their way out of the venue with hundreds electing to walk
the 2 miles alongside the banks of the Liffey towards the warmth of the
city,you could sense a genuine happiness and warmth that the many hope will
convince Neil to return at some "point" in the future.
INTRO,BEAUTIFUL NOISE,HELLO AGAIN,IF YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN,I GOT THE FEELIN' (OH NO NO ),THANK THE LORD FOR THE NIGHTIME,CHERRY CHERRY,SHILO,SOLITAIRY MAN,BROOKLYN ROADS,PLAY ME,FOREVER IN BLUE JEANS, JLS SEGMENT (BE,LONELY LOOKING SKY,SANCTUS,SKYBIRD),
AMERICA,AMAZED AND CONFUSED,LOVE ON THE ROCKS,BAND INTRO.(DANCE OF THE SABRES),AS TIME GOES BY,UNCHAINED MELODY,I'VE GOT YOU UNDER MY SKIN/ONE FOR MY BABY,CAN'T HELP FALLING IN LOVE,SONG SUNG BLUE,SWEET CAROLINE,CRACKLIN'
ROSIE,YOU DON'T BRING ME FLOWERS,I AM...I SAID,CRUNCHY GRANOLA SUITE, BROTHER LOVES TRAVELLING SHOW.
by Richard Anson
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