Denver, Colorado - Pepsi Center

Dec 31, 1999

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  1. Diamond leaves fans ‘song sung’ satisfied

    January 2, 2000

    By Mark Brown
    Denver Rocky Mountain News Critic

    Yes, it may have cost up to $1,000 a ticket, but all 15,842 people in the Pepsi Center on New Year’s Eve will remember exactly where they were and what they were doing when the calendar turned over to 2000.

    Alternating between intimate moments alone with his audience, and broadcasting live to the world, Neil Diamond wove his way through 35 years of his history and ended up singing Coming to America to the world as the clock struck 12.

    Even non-fans would have gotten a chill from the moment — and believe me, there weren’t any non-fans in the house.
    Odd, isn’t it, that Diamond’s blend of songcraft, showmanship and emotion could attract fans of everyone from Robbie Robertson to Urge Overkill, and still fill arenas after three decades?

    Opening with Beautiful Noise from the Robertson-produced album of the same name, Diamond deftly walked through his 35-year history, going heavy on the hits but also paying tribute to the key points in his career, from his early songs to breakthrough projects like Jonathan Livingston Seagull.

    It’s hard to tell what his fans like better. The entire Pepsi Center was on its feet for barn burners like Cracklin’ Rosie and Forever in Blue Jeans, yet was also spellbound, silent and rapt for more emotional numbers — Love on the Rocks and Play Me.

    Diamond loves to be onstage and his enthusiasm spreads; he reprised Cracklin’ Rosie twice after ending the song, to the crowd’s ever-increasing delight.

    With nine musicians onstage backing Diamond you’d think the temptation to swaddle his voice in lush arrangements would be irresistible. Yet Diamond’s voice is the allure of any song he sings, and he’s wise enough to not let anyone cover it up. Strong and sure, his rich singing was front and center with nowhere to hide, especially powerful in If You Know What I Mean, You Don’t Bring Me Flowers and a deliciously percussion-heavy Cherry Cherry.

    Diamond has tinkered with some of his arrangements, particularly a slowed, deliberate Solitary Man. Yet he’s clearly not tired of the big hits that got him such a devoted following, delivering note-perfect renditions of Song Sung Blue and a delicate, intricate I Am … I Said.

    If other places had Y2K problems, they weren’t showing up here. The only drawbacks were production-related. Early on, the mix tended to bury Diamond’s vocals, a glitch that was soon fixed. Diamond’s revolving stage made for a more intimate in-the-round concert experience, even from the rafters. But the setup left little room for him to stretch; you could sense a restlessness that could have been explosive if the man had just had a little more room to move.

    No matter. He left the crowd delirious with Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show and a spontaneous sing-along in Auld Lang Syne. If nothing else, he ensured that the arenas will be full again next time he comes around.
    Contact Mark Brown at (303) 892-2674 or at

    January 2, 2000


  2. The Daily Camera (Boulder)

    15,000 fans spent New Year’s Eve with Neil Diamond

    January 2, 2000

    By Jay Dedrick
    Camera Entertainment Editor

    DENVER — “We all know the song.”
    Neil Diamond sang those words from “Love on the Rocks,” and that one line summed up much of the appeal of his New Year’s Eve concert at the Pepsi Center, where he and 15,842 admirers rang in the new millennium. They all knew the songs, and took comfort in the familiar music.
    Diamond’s two-hour, 10-minute show was basically the same one he has taken on the road for most of the ’90s, including his most recent stop in Denver, at McNichols Arena three years ago. He barely mentioned the holiday on everyone’s mind early in the show, which conveyed a feeling of business as usual.
    That all changed as midnight neared, and Diamond drew the biggest cheer of the night when he announced that ABC-TV had begun telecasting the concert to the rest of the nation. After leading a sing-along through one of his most infectious hits, “Sweet Caroline,” he went into the odds-on-favorite to be played as the clock struck 12: “America.”
    The 1980 anthem, written to honor his grandparents and millions of immigrants like them, is one of the most patriotic hits of the rock era; as U.S. flags unfurled from the rafters, it felt as much like Independence Day as New Year’s Eve.
    In a glittery, silver-gray shirt and black slacks, Diamond reveled at the center of his revolving stage in the round, leading the crowd in the 10-second countdown that ended with fireworks blasting inside the arena, streamers streaking and confetti falling on the crowd for several minutes. He followed one of his biggest hits with one of his smallest, the little-known but appropriate “Headed for the Future.”
    For most of the night, though, Diamond and his adoring fans — who shrugged off the pricey tickets by nearly selling out the arena — headed for the past. Diamond went as far back as the ’40s for “As Time Goes By,” one of the chestnuts from his recent album of standards from the movies.
    Otherwise, the singer-songwriter relied mostly on his own material. Mid-’60s nuggets such as “Cherry Cherry” and “I’m a Believer” (a hit for the Monkees) made for high-energy, clap-along moments, while later ballads (“Hello Again,” “Play Me,” “I Am … I Said”) tugged at heartstrings. Alas, Barbra Streisand hosted her own millennium gig in Las Vegas, so Diamond dueted on “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” with his regular touring singer, Linda Press.
    Diamond isn’t an entertainer without flaws. His half-spoken delivery of lines grows old, especially when he veers from the melody as much as he did Friday night. And his incessant kisses blown to the audience suggest an insincere lounge singer of the worst kind. His commitment to the songs is solid, though, and his willingness to play practically all the hits shows respect for the audience. He was at his best when he relaxed and didn’t over-emote: A set of “Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon,” “Solitary Man” and “Shilo” made for mid-tempo magic.
    The concert’s most satisfying moments didn’t necessarily go hand-in-hand with the best-known songs. “Beautiful Noise” and “If You Know What I Mean” were poignant and dramatic, while Diamond injected some metallic flash into “Thank the Lord for the Night Time” by encouraging a duel between his two guitarists. The oddball pick of the night was 1971’s “Crunchy Granola Suite,” a call for health consciousness that found Diamond singing “drop your shrink, stop your drinking.” With the Pepsi Center charging $6 for a plastic flute of champagne, the drinkers in the crowd were inclined to heed the advice.
    The audience certainly enjoyed itself throughout the night, but was better behaved than most you’d find at a typical rock show. The $1,000 tickets, which included dinner and a party, obviously went to the well-to-do, who wore tuxedoes and evening dresses. They strolled the concourses side-by-side with folks in sweatshirts and jeans, who seemed to enjoy the show just as much from the $65 seats.
    Diamond played Denver’s old arena, McNichols, 14 times from the ’70s to the ’90s, more than any other musical act. At 58, he’s not likely to match that mark at the Pepsi Center. But like the charismatic preacher of “Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show,” he’s not about to give up his mission of musical healing yet.
    Diamond made his exit after singing “Auld Lang Syne,” presumably to head back to his cabin near Aspen. The audience lingered to watch hundreds of white balloons fall from the ceiling. The lights were on as the crowd tooted horns and laughed — beautiful noise.
    January 2, 2000





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