The New Zealand Press - June 14, 1999
Neil Diamond at the WestpacTrust Centre. Saturday, June 12.
Reviewed by Keith Nunes.
Rapturous applause ushered Neil Diamond to the WestpacTrust Centre stage on Saturday night for the first of his four sell-out concerts in Christchurch.
The enthusiasm from the wildly supportive crowd never faltered through the nearly 2½-hour concert and seemed to lift the legendary singer-songwriter.
Without opening acts or an interval Diamond, 58, paced himself superbly, sprinkling gentle love songs in between uptempo rockers.
Wearing his trademark sparkly shirt atop black trousers, Diamond nimbly wandered around the revolving stage all evening, talking to the crowd, personalising his songs, and injecting humour into the show.
The lighting was entertaining in its own right; Diamond's band of 23 years was spirited and precise; and the crowd, which ranged in age from twenties to seventies, were attentive and frenzied when the moment suited.
He sang many of his hits, drawing people to their feet regularly with Shilo, I'm a Believer, Forever in Blue Jeans, Song Sung Blue, and the opening track, Beautiful Noise. He orchestrated the crowd's role during a rousing rendition of Sweet Caroline and had them off their seats again for the gospel-like Brother Love's Travelling Salvation Show.
Diamond and the crowd seemed moved with his working of Play Me and his duet with support singer Linda Press on You Don't Bring Me Flowers, which ended with an artful kiss.
The only questionable move he made was the 15 minutes spent on movie song tributes (from his latest album). Several of his own hits would have been preferable. But that was a minor quibble.
The consummate performer then swung back into his own songs and the crowd was back in synch, singing the words, clapping, and stamping their feet.
A great show Mr Diamond!
New Zealand Fan Review by Paul Mainwaring
Neil Diamond Concerts June 12th and 13th
After booking concerts tickets many months ago the weekend finally arrived where I was to once again see Neil Diamond in concert. I wasnt disappointed, a perfect venue, the concerts were sensational , his voice as good as ever and the participation of the capacity crowd absolutely fantastic. New Zealand crowds are not always spontaneous but they sure were for Neil; he had them under his spell from the very start.
On both nights he hit the stage at around 8.10pm and left about 10.30pm.
Id followed the progress of Neils shows throughout Australia via the "I Am I Said" board so had a pretty good idea what to expect of the playlist. The set list was much the same as the rest of the world tour. It was the same as Melbourne in that he included Crunchy Granola Suite as his third song after Can Anybody Hear Me on both nights. He played his regular encore and after Brother Love he did Heartlight at the Saturday night show. On Sunday evening he omitted Heartlight and ended with Brother Love.
As with the other shows he did the duelling electric guitars thing with Doug and Hadley and the kissing the person on your right routine.
Sweet Caroline with the crowd singing the "woe, woe woe" and the "so good, so good, so good" bits after some tuition from Neil was great fun. I really dont think Ive see a NZ crowd quite so animated before as in that number
Neil talked at length to the audience. Far more than Ive heard him before which was great because it gave more insight into the personality of the man.
Linda Press was exquisite as usual and Vince Charles and King Errison seemed to have boundless energy. The band really got into the spirit of the occasion. Neil introduced them individually during Dance of the Sabres.
For those interested in Neils dress, on Saturday night he wore black pants with dark blue stripey shirt with the usual blue sparkly bits. On Sunday night he dressed entirely in black with blue sparkles on the shirt.
I wouldnt have swapped this experience for anything. It was simply stunning and whats more the newspaper reviewer seems to agree with me.
I hope we have the opportunity to see this wonderful phenomenon of an entertainer in this part of the world again in the not too distant future.
hot autumn-nightEVER wondered if diamonds really were forever? Well, there was a shining example glittering before us, larger and brighter than life itself.
Nonetheless it was a tight call whether to wince or whistle when Neil Diamond, youthful at 58, cantered through the crowd and bounded up the stairs on to the circular stage.
Initial misgivings were dispelled when he stood on the stage in that stellar setting, in that splendiferous shirt. They may have been rhinestones but the Diamond beneath that black silk was the genuine article.
Then came that Beautiful Noise, and with every song that followed, the years just seemed to peel away. Grown women swooned, grannies boogied beside youngsters, guys high-fived, and a lot of people danced as if they just didn't care, as Diamond urged us to clap and stomp along to a seemingly endless procession of hits. There is little need to list them all, everybody knows one.
Ask anyone who watched their mum cut the living-room rug to Sweet Caroline, sang Song Sung Blue in school, sat obediently through The Jazz Singer or made goo-goo eyes at Uma Thurman as she gyrated to Girl, You'll Be a Woman Soon in Pulp Fiction.
The hits were interspersed with ballads. some banter and a little soft-sell for his latest release, The Movie Album, from which he played a bracket of four famous film themes.
When Diamond beamed boyishly between songs, his genuine humility, heartfelt appreciation and pure joy shone as brightly as those outrageous rhinestones. Even someone with more contemporary tastes couldnt help but be moved by Diamonds music.
The crowning moment of this hot autumn night was the touchingYou Don't Bring Me Flowers duet with Linda Press. When he took her in his arms and kissed her tenderly on the lips as the lights went down, you could almost hear the envious gasps of a few thousand women.
After more than two hours and an almost evangelical ending, featuring a reprise of Sweet Caroline with crowd accompaniment and the gospel finale of Brother Love, he was gone. There was no encore. After some 30 songs, there was no need.Sooner or later we will all have to confront the Neil within us and perhaps find that Diamonds can be a bIoke's best friend, too.
NEIL DIAMOND IN CONCERT AT THE BURSWOOD DOME PERTH 28.5.99
" RED GREEN AND GOLD TO WELCOME YOU"
The Burswood is a huge leisure complex situated just south of Perth city
Other than the 23,000 capacity Dome, the complex consists of a Casino,
Theatre, Golf Course and a huge Hotel and on the Friday of the show the site was
heaving with thousands of people,the majority of which were heading for the Dome.
There was a distinct "Diamond Feel"about the night with even the Hotel
selling cocktails aptly named "Song Sung Blue","Hanky Panky","Mr
Bojangles","Sweet Caroline" and "Hot August Night". The
Dome itself is possibly the largest indoor
venue Neil will play on this tour,it has an enormous white parachute shaped roof and a massive
expanse across the floor.
However it is not blessed with the best acoustics with the sound also
suffering from a distinct echo.
Neil though is blessed with the habit of rising above such minor
intrusions, and was clearly in the mood to do so when he entered the
arena to the now familiar "Beautiful Noise".
With the audience clearly on his side Neil kept the momentum going with "Can Anybody Hear Me".
Slowing things down,in his pre amble to "Hello Again",Neil likened Perth
to a "rainbow city",referring to the number of rainbows that had punctuated
a day of heavy showers and bright sunshine.Neil though almost outshone the
heavenly light show with a new multicoloured shirt that shimmered to
From hereonin the show followed it's usual path.
The Bang classics were all well recieved and still you have to marvel at
the way songs such as "Shilo" and Solitairy Man"have stood the test of
time,whilst Neil continues to belt out "Cherry Cherry"with as much
enthusiasm as he did in '66.
Onnce again Neil introduced the song with references to his new
Gibson guitar and then launched into a riff that has become one of his
However it was "Forever in Blue Jeans"that got the audience out of their
seats and although "I'm A Believer followed", unlike the last time I saw
Neil (Wembley),there was a distinct pause between the songs which allowed
the audience just enough time to sit down again.
"Seagull" was beautifully presented,in fact throughout the performance
Neils voice was in excellent shape and when we got to the "Movie Album"
segment,I thought that Neils vocal interpretation of these songs were as
strong as any I have seen on the tour so far.
Although these renditions continue to get mixed reviews,the selection was
well recieved, particuarly the delightful "Unchained Melody".
The home run held no surprises,except for a sound blip that silenced
Linda(Press) during "You Don't Bring Me Flowers",despite this she gamely carried
on,earning a warm ovation when the sound was restored.
Sadly no "He Ain't Heavy or " I've Been This Way Before",but "Holly
Holly" and "Brother Love" brought the show to a resounding end.And as Neil and
his incredible shirt disappeared from view,you wondered whether Perth would
see him again.....Although in the City of Rainbows there will always be
plenty of reasons to remember him.
by Richard Anson.
A girl's and boy's best friend
NEIL DIAMOND, Entertainment Centre, May 18
Reviewed by JON CASIMIR
First things first. With the upwards inflection of his bushy eyebrows, his
rounded nose and a pronounced squint that no doubt comes courtesy of all
those spotlights, Neil Diamond looks disconcertingly like Mr Magoo at
To put a nicer spin on that, there's an easygoing ordinariness about this
musical legend. He doesn't look like a star. If it weren't for the spangly
black shirt and the surrounding entourage of earpieced,
security goons, he could have been mistaken for any other punter entering
Diamond's stage presence, then, is mostly a product of hard work. He keeps
moving, sells hismaterial hard, and constantly gees up the crowd and the
nine-piece band. As the musician's platform, the inner ring of the
in-the-round stage, rotates at slightly above restaurant speed, Diamond
paces the perimeter, urging everyone on and up.
He looks ecstatic when a song comes off. He pulls tai chi poses on the big
finishing notes. He chats with the audience in a way that seems equal
parts rehearsed and spontaneous. He seems like a helluva nice guy. Which he
probably is - no-one keeps the same band for 20 years without having
something going for him.
Diamond is a legend (Gibson has just named a guitar after him, which he
happily strummed in Cherry Cherry) for the right reasons. His songs. And
to hear them brought together is to realise that, although he may have been
unfashionable for most of his career, there is an undeniable brilliance to
much of his canon.
Anyone who can afford to run through tracks like Girl, You'll Be A Woman
Soon, Solitary Man and Shilo in the middle of the set, instead of saving
them for the climax, has an obvious surfeit of choice.
If Diamond creates a problem for the historians of hip, it's that his
Brill Building background nurtured a versatility which has seen him genre-hop
throughout his career. For every nugget of perfect pop like I'm A
for every impassioned rocker like Cracklin' Rosie or Sweet Caroline, there
is a jinglesque Song Sung Blue, an overstretched You Don't Bring Me
Flowers or a simply pretentious Jonathan Livingstone Seagull.
Diamond's inability to stand still is not, of course, a problem for his
adoring audience, who can't stay still either, bopping up and down in
their seats for the two-hour show. The predominantly 35-to-55 boomer crowd
claps, cheers, dances and offers massed backing vocals long before Diamond
actually asks for them.
And when he brackets four songs from his recent collection of movie tunes
(As Time Goes By, Unchained Melody, I've Got You Under My Skin and Can't
Help Falling In Love With You), they go right along with him on the tangent.
If these versions are pleasant but largely unrewarding, a guy singing some
of his favourite songs instead of a hungry artist looking for a new take
on classics, does it really matter?
What does Neil Diamond have to prove?
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