Cincinnati, Ohio - Firstar Arena

Dec 07, 1999

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  1. Cincinnati Enquirer

    Diamond rolls through career of gems
    December 9, 1999


    Enquirer contributor

    Thirty songs. Thirty immediately recognizable, timeless pop classics delivered with style. Thousands of longtime Neil Diamond fans received the full supply of hits Tuesday night at Firstar Center, showing why, even two decades removed from the pop charts, Neil Diamond remains a huge concert draw.

    Performing “in the round” on a rotating stage, the famous singer/songwriter took the stage in black pants and a black sequined shirt — “Forever in Blue Jeans” is only a metaphor — and performed with an energy that belied his 58 years.

    Though opening the evening with, among others, the up-tempo “Beautiful Noise” and “Crunchy Granola,” the show was slow to get rolling. The momentum was soon discovered, though, in the name of the beautiful “Shilo” and “Play Me,” followed closely by the crowd rousing “Blue Jeans” and “I’m a Believer,” the Monkees’ hit written by Mr. Diamond.

    The evening focused almost entirely on Mr. Diamond’s prolific decades of songwriting, with only minimal chatter between the star and the audience. In one notable exception, Mr. Diamond paused to praise mu sic’s power and its ability to bring people of different worlds together. He urged his audience to “break down the walls,” and suggested his fans turn and give the person seated next to him or her a kiss.

    Never before has having an aisle seat next to an empty seat seemed more fortuitous.

    On the heels of the flag-waving “America,” came a hit-and-miss sampling of selections from Mr. Diamond’s latest CD, The Movie Album. While “As Time Goes By” and “Can’t Help Falling in Love” were fine matches for Mr. Diamond’s skills, the Righteous Brothers’ incomparable “Unchained Melody” is best left in the hands of Bobby Hatfield.

    Before too many became comfortable in their seats and with the 130 minute show winding down, Mr. Diamond launched his second winning streak of the night with “Cracklin’ Rosie,” an extended, audience participation version of “Sweet Caroline” and “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers.”

    “Flowers” featured the talents of vocalist Linda Press, one of Mr. Diamond’s nine backing musicians. At its conclusion, Mr. Diamond and Ms. Press embraced in a loving kiss. Interestingly, Ms. Press’ husband happens to be Mr. Diamond’s bass player. Ah, show business!



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