for Anchorage concerts. After months of speculation about whether his
show would be worth the top ticket prices of $126.50, Neil Diamond
delivered a boffo concert at the Sullican Arena.
Before anybody came on stage (20 minutes late) it was obvious this show
was going to be different. Baseball caps and body glitter were in scant
supply, a lack filled by an odd surfeit of sequins.
Right about where the mosh pit usually writhes sat a giant round
rotating stage bathed in multi-colored spotlights. "It's like he's God,"
one observer noted reverently.
In the audience, 50-year-old Bobbi West awaited her seventh Diamond
concert. She considers the singer a philosopher and credits him with
getting her through some hard times in 1966.
"It's the very essence of his being that has pulled me out of many
situations," she said. "He sings from the heart, unconditionally. The
very essence of his being has touched my soul."
Her husband didn't wax quite as lyrical. "I like him, too. But I get
sick of hearing his music around the house."
Finally, amid a way cool light show, the man himself appeared-- clad in
a sparkly shirt, black pants and looking much younger than he should.
Singing one eerily familiar song after another, Diamond worked the crowd
like a conductor. He raised his hands, the mezzanine shreiked. A turn to
those seated on the floor, they erupted in a frenzy. A glance to the
balcony brought stomping feet.
"This is the first time we've ever played here," he told the crowd. "So
we want to make it special for you guys."
What made it special for anyone who's ever attended a Sullivan concert
was the excellent sound. Early on it was difficult distinguishing
Diamond's words over his band, but after about 10 minutes that glitch
Showing himself to be still light on his feet after all these years,
Diamond danced through dozens of his hits, including "Cherry Cherry,"
"Forever in Blue Jeans," "Solitary Man" and the one made famous by the
Monkees, "I'm a Believer."
Charmingly, despite decades of fame, the singer seemed genuinely moved
at the audience's display of affection, bowing humbly in response.
In the end, Diamond may have delivered a solidly entertaining show, but
local promotoers should have gotten another message: This shows it can
be done. Top acts can play in the Sullivan Arena accompanied by
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