The Scotsman (Wednesday 24th February 1999)
By Fiona Shepherd
A GARGANTUAN lighting rig looms over the circular stage like the space ship in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Although what lies ahead in the next two hours is not exactly alien visitation, it's safe to say few of the capacity audience will have seen anything like Neil Diamond in the round before, not unless they make regular trips to Las Vegas.
Diamond bounds on stage in one of Alexis Colby's brilliant white shoulder-padded shirts and suddenly the colossal light show makes perfect sense - such a shirt needs a squadron of spotlights glancing off its spangly trim to show it off to its full advantage. However, eye-popping attire aside, it is Mr Neil Diamond who is the super trouper tonight.
The multifarious band members take their places round the edge of the platform and revolve slowly like the choice in a gourmet buffet while Diamond circulates like a gracious host giving each section of the auditorium his favour. To begin with, his voice is the same sonorous tool of old, giving Girl you'll Be A Woman Soon and edgy glamour. By the end of the concert, however, he's become less ambitious about belting out the ballads and He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother is practically a spoken-word rendition.
Sadly it is Diamond's "new" material which lets the side down. The blatant plug for his current Movie Album provides the show's nadir as he attempts sanitised renditions of classics such as Can't Help Falling In Love and I've Got You Under My Skin which are light years from definitive. However, a closing run of simple singalongs such as Song Sung Blue and Sweet Caroline restores faith in the Diamond lustre. He could still vanquish
All-round Diamond GeezerScottish Daily Record, Friday, February 26, 1999 by John Dingwall
Neil Diamond, SECC, Glasgow
Neil diamonds first-ever Scottish shows attracted three sell out crowds last weekend, but the 58 year old singer seemed to have come full circle.
Diamond performed "in the round", with a circular revolving stage at the centre of the arena.
The considerate chap had insisted on the costly stage set-up to help him give his mainly middle-aged fans a better view.
They had waited 30 years to see their idol and, as he opened with Beautiful noise, it was obvious the crowd intended to make themselves heard.
And Diamond seemed genuinely delighted when the audience gave him thunderous applause for songs such as Song Sung Blue, Solitary Man, Brooklyn Roads and Girl Youll Be A Woman Soon.
As he sang the song America, Saltires and star-spangled banners dropped from the lighting rig, bringing a cheer.
But the highlight of the set was the tragic Love On The Rocks.
Neil explained his delay in getting to Scotland.
He told the audience "I met a woman after on of my concerts in England a while back and she asked me, "When are you going to play in Scotland?"
"I thought, thats a good question. Looking at all of you tonight, I dont know why it has taken so long. Im glad I did."
Backed by a nine-piece band, he also showcased songs from The Movie Album (his 44th), including Elviss Cant Help Falling In Love With You as well as As Time Goes By and Ive Got You Under My Skin.
Admittedly, the sight of him in a black-sequined shirt and slacks, while singing Forever In Blue Jean, had a surreal quality to it.
But for those die-hards old enough to remember onyx ashtrays and music centres, Neils two hour set turned back the clock to his, and their, heyday.
But it was still a bit of a "cabaret" and you couldnt help thinking you were watching an older generation Barry Manilow.
The veteran heros performance, though thoroughly professional, looked as though it would be more fitting in a Las Vegas casino than the SECC.
Friday 19th February, 1999:
Scottish Exhibition & Conference Centre, Glasgow, SCOTLAND. (God's Country!!)
On Stage: 8.21pm. Off Stage: 10.23pm. Concert time 2 hours 2 minutes.
Neil wore. Black shirt, with blue sparkles (could be navy, difficult to see
from the first row!)
Beautiful Noise/Crunchy Granola Suite/Hello Again/If You Know What I
Mean/Thank The Lord For The Nighttime/Cherry Cherry/Girl You'll Be A WomanSoon/Solitary Man/Shilo/Play Me/Brooklyn Roads/Forever In Blue Jeans/JonathanSeagull/America(With SCOTTISH FLAGS, NOT ENGLISH!!!!!!)/Love On The Rocks/Band Intro-Sabre Dance/As Time Goes By/Unchained Melody/Sinatra Medley/Can't Help Falling In Love/Song Sung Blue/Cracklin' Rosie/Sweet Caroline (repeated withSo Good......etc.)/You Don't Bring Me Flowers/I Am..I Said../HollyHoly/Brother Love (Shouted, the best!)
Neil's debut in Scotland was a carnival affair with the fans on their feet
clapping and shouting even before Neil and the band hit the stage, I think he
was pleasantly overwhelmed by his reception, but then Scotland has waited 30
years for Neil. And this is the extra show, tonight and Monday were the
originals so should be even better, if that is possible.
The weather may be snow and sleet here but the atmosphere last night was
electric. Neil missed out "Can Anybody Hear Me" but replaced it with "Brooklyn Roads", but he also missed out "I Got The Feelin'" and "Amazed & Confused" too. He changed the playlist around by bringing "Crunchy Granola Suite forwardto the opening section. He totally blew "Beautiful Noise" but there was suchpandemonium when he arrived on stage that no one except the entire10,000crowd noticed!
Saturday 20th February, 1999:
On Stage:8.16pm. Off Stage: 10.26pm. Concert Time 2hrs 10mnts. (Longest of
tour so far!)
Neil wore: Silver & Black glitter shirt, real bright!
Hello Again All!
The incomparable Neil Diamond gave his best show of the UK/Ireland tour so far when we had the experience of a lifetime at the second of his Glasgow shows.
From way before Neil took the stage the crowd was up stomping and clapping,
and creating an electric atmosphere. This clearly had an emotional affect on
Neil as we got a stranger than usual confused but fun version of "Beautiful
Noise" to begin the show. Neil was really pumped up, he talked a lot more,
commented on Scotland's constant rain, talked about his new "Neil Diamond
Guitar" which was being produced, and he really bantered a lot. He came over
to our section for lengthy spells and sang about a third of "Play Me" to us
after we made enough noise to attract his attention! And what a treat at the
end of the show!! He SHOUTED a great Brother Love, then at the end of the song stopped and there was no playout from the band, Hadley strapped on anotherguitar and Neil finished the show with "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother". He got some of the words wrong, nothing unusual in that, but sang the full song as best his memory would allow, then did his thank you routine and sang a few more lines to finish with. The show was the longest of the 8 shows I have seen so far in Ireland & Scotland, with 2hrs 10mnts.
Beautiful Noise/Crunchy Granola Suite/Hello Again/If You Know What I
Mean/Thank The Lord For The Nighttime/Cherry Cherry/Girl, You'll Be A Woman Soon/Solitary Man/Shilo/Play Me/Brooklyn Roads(GREAT JOB!)/Forever In Blue Jeans/Jonathan Seagull/America (Scottish flags, the audience went nuts!!)/Love On The Rocks/Band Intro-Sabre Dance/As Time Goes By/Unchained Melody/Sinatra Medley/Can't Help Falling In Love/Song Sung Blue/Cracklin' Rosie (I swear eventhe wheelchair folks were standing up for this one!)/Sweet Caroline (repeated,So Good ......etc.)/You Don't Bring Me Flowers/I Am..I Said../Holy Holly/Brother Love(shouted, GREAT!)/HE AIN'T HEAVY, HE'S MY BROTHER!!
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