Neil Diamond

Concert Reviews - Anchorage, Alaska August 13, 1999

The Anchorage Daily News

Saturday, August 14:

"Diamond delivers as Sullivan swoons in sequined reverence"

By Susan Morgan

That clang on Friday night was the sound of the bar being forever raised

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

excellent sound.

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