Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - First Union Center

Oct 17, 2001

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  1. Regina Litman
    Philadelphia 10/17/2001 Set List
    Thu Oct 18 11:58:22 2001

    America
    Mission Of Love (slow part at end left off)
    Solitary Man (picked up guitar)
    Cherry Cherry (still with guitar)
    Red Red Wine (started out slow, then went to reggae, last song with guitar)
    I’m A Believer
    Soolaimon
    If You Know What I Mean
    Beautiful Noise
    Girl, You’ll Be A Woman Soon
    I Haven’t Played This Song In Years
    You Are The Best Part Of Me
    At The Movies
    I Believe In Happy Endings
    Forever In Blue Jeans
    Star Flight (with band highlights)
    Captain Sunshine
    Holly Holy
    Sweet Caroline (one full rendition followed by 2 more partials)
    You Don’t Bring Me Flowers (started out solo, then brought in Linda Press for duet)
    Yes I Will (at piano)
    Lady Magdelene (at piano, with reprise of Yes I Will at end)
    Shilo (“counting the years” version; I had always felt that he preferred the “young girl with fire” version, but in recent years, he’s been doing this one, which was the hit record version)
    He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother
    I Am…I Said (left stage afterwards, then returned for final numbers)
    Cracklin’ Rosie
    Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show
    brief reprise of “America”

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  2. kbp
    Wednesday Night Concert
    Thu Oct 18 05:14:31 2001

    origianlly posted on Thu Oct 18 01:29:03 2001

    Just got in from the concert. Another great show. Neil was at his finest wearing a bluish-gray sparkily shirt. The lucky girl tonight was a blond with long curly hair about 25-30 years old. She seemed to be quite surprised that she was chosen. She was shy but got into “the kiss.” She stroked his face and held his hand for most of the song. He stroked her face as well. He gave her another kiss at the end of the song. The audience howled throughout the song and did not expect Neil’s playful behavior. At the end of the song, he kicked his legs in the air while laying on his back asking for a cigarette. Everyone yelled and cheered.

    I was able to meet, for the first time, several people from the IAIS board. We all got together after the show at Neil’s hotel. Only got to see King Erricson, who was in the lounge socializing with some fans.

    Neil has a lot of fans in their 20’s who were tailgating (partying) in the parking lot. We and about 20 others joined in after the show for about an hour playing Neil’s Greatest Hits on the car stereo while waiting for the parking lot to clear. Had a lot of fun explaining to many people about the IAIS board. Most people only knew of Neil’s webpage. We may be getting alot more people on board. It’s getting late and I’m very tired. I’m going to tomorrow’s concert and will fill you in on that later.

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  3. Regina Litman
    Show Report – 10/17/2001
    Thu Oct 18 08:44:11 2001

    This was such a magical show with so many surprises! Because I had been reading so many reports that were posted here, I knew to expect them, but there were surprises within the surprises. And the other people around me who didn’t know what was going to happen this time around were truly surprised.

    It must have really been special to have been at the first show in Columbus, where most of the changes were first unveiled.

    The first thing I want to say is that I think the end stage worked very well for Neil. There are three round areas at the front of the stage – left, right, and center. I sat at the side but near the front, closest to the left side (left from the audience’s perspective). I know that a lot of people sat at the top and in the back and paid top dollar even to do that, and the feelings of these people regarding the end stage may differ from mine. He used these round areas to bring himself out a little closer and to spotlight a song in one area while a different area was being set up for something else.

    For instance, he began to sing “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” in the center area. The right area (furthest from me) was still darkened, but I could see Linda Press moving over there to get ready to join in with him. Gradually, he moved over to his left and our right to join her there as it was lit and she began to sing. The center area was then darkened. They ended their song, and Neil made his way to center stage, although not to the circular front center part. As the center became lighted, the audience could see that a piano had been moved there. And I knew that it was time for “Yes I Will” and “Lady Magdelene” – that he had not dropped these!

    While I knew what songs to expect, from the reports that were posted here, I had intentionally not memorized the order of the set list, so that I would not be totally anticipating everything.

    “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” has never been a favorite of mine, but I had never heard him do it in concert before, so I looked forward to hearing it last night, and I was not disappointed in his performance of this song.

    The trivia question is, what other song has he been doing at these concerts, besides “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother”, is one that he neither wrote nor co-wrote? The answer is “Star Flight”, the one he uses to highlight the band. It was written by band members Alan Lindgren and Tom Hensley. From the reports I had been reading here, I thought the band would be doing just an instrumental version and that Neil would introduce each member by name. But while he told Ron Tutt to start things off (requesting “Ronnie” to start things), he didn’t mention their names during this sequence. Various instrumental sections had their turns, and eventually the two female singers, Linda Press and Julia Waters, began to sing. Finally, Neil sang along, too.

    The “Captain Sunshine” tribute to Vince was great, too. “Moods” was a huge-selling album almost 30 years ago, and I’ll bet a lot of people in the audience have an old vinyl copy put away somewhere that they hadn’t played in years, and this was probably the first time they had heard it in a long. They more likely expected to hear “Song Sung Blue” and “Play Me”, two hits from that album that were staples in his concerts since the 1970s but weren’t part of last night’s show.

    Ditto for “Serenade”, a slightly “newer” album (1974 as opposed to 1972). People would have thought they’d be more likely to have heard the hit song “Longfellow Serenade” or the concert staple “I’ve Been This Way Before”, not “Yes I Will” and “Lady Magdelene”! Neil’s piano segment was magnificent! He began with a story about how he associated piano ownership with the upper class of society, how he worked as a pharmacy delivery boy when he was 10 years old and would go to homes on the “other side of the trolley tracks” and see pianos there. And then he sat down and played! I had seen accounts of Neil using pianos to write songs since the 1960s, but before this tour, I had never known him to have played a piano as part of his live show.

    It’s almost too bad that I knew what he was going to play because it was just so wonderful hearing him play these songs. And at the end of “Yes I Will”, he began singing in a different tone of voice, perhaps one that could be described as harmony, and it was just magnificent! This was definitely a highlight of the show.

    I’ll also comment a bit on the “Girl, You’ll Be A Woman Soon” segment. He came to the left side front circular area to begin the song. Since this was the side that was closest to me, I got a pretty good view of it. He began the song without anyone coming up from the audience, and I figured we were back to the pattern in which he just did it the second night in a city, if at all. But then after about the first verse, a tall woman with long blonde hair approached the stage. I couldn’t quite tell what her cue was, but she seemed to know to go, even though she seemed reluctant and not aware of what was going to happen. Someone else posted that she looked about 25-30, but I thought she may have even been closer to 40. After a short time, she tried to pull away, because I think she was embarrassed by what was happening, but right in the middle of his singing, he told her, “Not yet.” It got picked up by the microphone and went at least as far as where I was sitting.

    But she got into the spirit and touched his face first, and then he touched hers. Eventually, they kissed, and at the end of the song, he made a show of collapsing on stage and not getting up right away.

    One of the libraries near me has “Pulp Fiction”, and I’m going to take it out the next time I see it – I don’t want to pay to rent it because I didn’t like it enough to watch the whole thing again – and then fast forward to the scene in which this song is used and try to figure out if it could have inspired him in this act.

    When he got back up, he suggested that they do some songs from the new album, and he did the three slow ones he’s been doing plus “At The Movies”. I noticed during one of the slow numbers that the four women in the string section had been transported to front stage center from their usual position in the back. I have a feeling that he did not expect the audience to be “up” for this segment, either based on the previous shows on this tour or on the reactions to new album songs segments on previous tours. So, when these four songs were done, he said they were going to do more familiar stuff now. And soon I noticed that the four women were back in the back.

    Eventually, Neil sang “I Am…I Said” and then left the stage. Of course, everyone expected him back, but it took what seemed like a long time. I had a theory of why it took so long – he drank a lot of water during the show, and he could wait until the end to go to the bathroom! Unlike us, though, he no doubt didn’t have to wait in line.

    And then he was back for “Cracklin’ Rosie”, “Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show”, and a brief “America” encore.

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  4. drew
    mini review
    Fri Oct 19 00:39:27 2001

    I’m in my 25th year of “shows”.
    It was refreshing to have an “end stage” show again; more power, more straightforward, more “in concert” than “in the round”….better interplay between musicians.
    Neil was more playful and relaxed.
    Audience was very apprieciative and responsive ( thankfully not like that Cleveland show….)
    Felt only slightly cheated that the set list has shrunk a couple of songs since just the beginning of this tour; the days of the 3 hour shows are long gone…things are much more structured now…you get your 2 hrs. worth, that’s it.
    like amost everyone else, i never would have thought i’d see the day he’d do Yes I Will, Lady M, and Captin Sunshine;
    truely the highlight for longstanding fans ( as well as He ain’t heavy…). ( and at the piano no less…i remember when he used to just stand on the piano, singing Sept Morn, and, i remember him playing the steel drums w/ Vince…)
    He was a trooper…not in the best voice Wed, but, like w/ a veteran pitcher who has to win w/out his “best stuff”, Neil ran through the set w/out backing off anything in deference to his obviously strained voice.
    The addition of the horns and string section added power and depth to the presentation; only wish he’d adapt the arrangements to better showcase these additions…most of the arrangements are the standard fare we’ve seen now for the past 10-15 years, with only slight variations such as in the tempo change on Red Red Wine.
    Was impressed that the grandma’s brought more grandaughters this time around…there was a good mix Wed night.
    Left not feeling as “old” as I have on some previous tours; Neil seemed to inject more vitality into this show, maybe even a bit more honesty…and that touched me more than in the shows of the recent past.
    He’s not the 35 yr old man I saw in ’76, but…not 1/2 bad @ 60 this time out.
    I was pleasantly, thankfully suprised.
    enjoy.

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  5. PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER REVIEW
    Fri Oct 19 10:10:34 2001

    Neil Diamond: Schmaltz and melancholy

    By A.D. Amorosi
    FOR THE INQUIRER

    There’s a fine line between tribute and parody, and Neil Diamond has seen both. To Saturday Night Live’s Will Ferrell – who sings “Forever in Blue Jeans” in Gap commercials with frightening accuracy where Neil’s hammy, gruff voice and shellacked comb-over are concerned – he’s a caricature.

    But the more than 17,000 fans at Diamond’s sold-out First Union Center show Wednesday night know different.

    Subtlety isn’t Diamond’s bag, not that a soul expects it from him. He’s the anti-Leonard Cohen, a master of boldfaced – not bleak or wry – emotion. At the First Union, the sentimental poetry, energetic earnestness, grandiose string-laden arrangements, and kitsch theatricality of his mournful gospel “Holly Holy,” ebullient “Sweet Caroline,” and startlingly Yma Sumac-ian “Soolaimon” put Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound to shame.

    Like Spector, Diamond made his bones at pop’s Brill Building, where Broadway schmaltz met rock-and-roll bluntness. It’s that street-opera romanticism he brought to his softest songs (ominous Latino shuffles “Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon” and “Shilo”); overblown anthems (“America,” whose tis-of-thee lyrics opened the show); hits “Solitary Man,” with its chiming guitars and AM-radio brass blasts, and “Cherry Cherry,” with its classic “Cool Jerk” piano fill; and the new, churchy “A Mission of Love” and Disneyesque “I Believe in Happy Endings.”

    Yet for all the schmaltz (the duet “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers,” which was too lurid for its own good, and an absurd “Blue Jeans”), there emerged a ragged melancholy that, come to think of it, did put Diamond in league with the aforementioned Cohen.

    When performing one of his new songs, a reflection on romance gone awry, he addressed his audience with a weary sadness (“Baby, you’re the reason I haven’t played this song in years”), his deep-voiced pain every bit a match for Cohen’s death-rattle ardor. With that one line done that one way, Diamond revealed an elegant, delicate decadence his bigger songs merely hinted at.

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  6. KBP
    Another Great Show
    Fri Oct 19 00:20:23 2001

    What can I say. Neil gets better with each concert. Section 3 which was on the front left side of Neil and the lower level seats next to it was the place to be tonight. They screamed and song more than any other section. I wanted to move down there and get away from my section who thought they were at an opera instead of a ND concert. That’s where the lucky girl who Neil sang to was seated. This will definately be a night to remember for her. I was so happy for her. She was a larger size lady who was thrilled to be picked. It was so tender. She was stroking Neil’s hair ever so gently and he never missed a beat. Then he gave her a big passionate kiss at the end. I’ll bet she won’t sleep tonight.

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  7. princess val
    ….unforgettable kiss (Rated R)
    Fri Oct 19 13:48:54 2001

    Dear KBP, thank you for the kind words.
    Neil’s songs have been the beat of my life since Cherry, Cherry and Solitary Man first crackled out of my little AM transistor radio.

    Dear Everyone on this board, especially you who were there last night, I love you all, this place is like coming home to me. I hope it showed last night that I was trying to share the moment with all of you.

    Indeed, I was not a plant! I don’t know him except from making eye contact in DC, and at the beginning of “America” last night, I saw him greeting other familiar faces. Then he strode stage left, greeted the other IAISers next to me, then gave me a very clear signal. It happened enough other times in the first couple songs that it was clear I wan’t imagining it.

    Then, “Girl.” When Neil truly makes eye contact, you know it really is with YOU. He so clearly came over right to me, no cruising the front row like there was at The Garden…..that’s when I held my hand to my heart and said ME?? and he reached down.

    And it happened.

    It was passionate, tender and poignant all at the same time. I was able to tell him some private things (if you saw him nodding his head). He looked deep into my eyes for much of the song, but for the kisses at the end….he kept his eyes closed. I find that so very romantic….
    He also held on tightly,like, Don’t go anywhere! when I thought I was supposed to break away.

    I feel deeply privileged. Anyone who wants to private me, it’s fine.

    Except…this was the only time I heard him make the remark about Hold on while I get my clothes back on….I’m gonna keep the details of that private.

    Rachel has done wonders for this talented man, and I thank her for sharing. And remember…Impossible things are happening ev’ry day.

    Love to you all,

    Val from DC

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  8. Regina Litman
    Show Report, 10/18/2001
    Fri Oct 19 10:39:39 2001

    Last night, I was closer to the stage and had a great view of Neil. Ironically, the first night, when I was near the front but up on the side, I had a pretty good view of the whole stage. This time, being on the floor, near the front, I could see a lot of Neil but not as much of what was going on behind him.

    The first thing I want to say is that the crowd was much more into the show Thursday than it was on Wednesday. Maybe I felt this because I was closer to a lot of the action, but I turned around a few times and looked high above me, and even the people at the top were standing and singing, and I didn’t see this as much on Wednesday.

    The other big thing is that he needed that singing last night because his own voice was almost gone, especially near the end. On Wednesday, there was only one song, “If You Know What I Mean”, which is in the middle of the concert, on which he was having problems. Last night, he had problems throughout the show, especially as the night wore on. I feel that his voice problems were the reason that he only did one encore of “Sweet Caroline”, even though the crowd was at least as much into it as it was the first night. He also had problems with his voice when he spoke to us. This was especially apparent in his two main monologues – the one about making movies before singing “At The Movies” and the one about the piano before “Yes I Will” and “Lady Magdelene”.

    Speaking of the piano segment, his voice did hold up well for these two songs, even though it had already shown signs of fading, and the harmony part near the end of “Yes I Will” still held the same magic it did for me on Wednesday. One thing that marred this performance, which is one of the quiestest moments of his concert, was a voice from the audience calling out a request for “Cracklin’ Rosie”.

    It occurred to me that people who are not familiar with his album catalog may think that “Yes I Will”, “Lady Magdelene”, “Starflight”, and “Captain Sunshine” are on “Three Chord Opera”, along with the four songs he did highlight from it in the new album segment. “Mission Of Love” is another song that is no doubt unfamiliar to them that he sings outside the new album segment, but this one is at least on the new album. “Three Chord Opera” was being sold at the concession stands for the rather high price of $20, but a free poster was included with it. I wonder if any of these four old songs helped sell copies of it!

    Somebody already mentioned the woman who was part of the “Girl, You’ll Be A Woman Soon” segment. I’ll mention a few more details. Wednesday night, he chose someone who was seated at the far end that was on his right and our left. Thursday, he went to the opposite end – our right and his left. Before the show, I had seen a short dark-haired woman walking the row between the front row seats and the stage – or rather, the front row seats and the guards. She was dressed in a costume – tights and a tutu like a ballet dancer and a jacket in the red, white, and blue colors once popularized by Philadelphia fashion designer Betsy Ross that are back in style this season. Eventually, this woman settled into a seat on near the end of the first row – our right and his left. And this was the woman he brought up from the audience. I would not have figured she’d be the one because she didn’t fit the profile of the description of the earlier ones. For one thing, she’s dark-haired. But unlike the woman on Wednesday who seemed to be a reluctant participant, at least at first, she wanted to be there and enjoyed every moment of it.

    Neil wore a black shirt with spangles. The four women in the string section wore dresses that I thought were a lovely shade of yellow. (I have to confess that I didn’t notice what they were wearing on Wednesday.) Tom Hensley had on a loud suit with what looked like animal images on a white background. The two background singers, Julia Waters and Linda Press (who, of course, comes out of the background to do “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers”), had on colorful outfits. Julia Waters does a great backup part near the end of “Soolaimon” that I noticed on Wednesday but forgot to note in my posting about that night’s show. She did it again last night, so I told myself to be sure to mention it in my message about last night’s show. I think that on Wednesday, Neil acknowledged her by name somewhere along the line, maybe at that point in the show, but he didn’t do it last night. He did not introduce all of the band members individually at either show, but saxophonist Larry Klimas was acknowledged after one of the songs (I think it was “If You Know What I Mean”) both nights. The first night, I could have sworn that Neil called him a “sexophonist”, but last night it sounded more like “saxophonist”.

    There were three logistical things I wanted to keep an eye on last night – things that suddenly appeared on stage – how did they get there? As it turned out, I got one thing figured out, was too engrossed in the show to watch a second thing unfold outside the spotlight, and the third thing did not occur as it had the previous night. The thing that didn’t occur was the appearance of flowers at front stage center near the end of the show. Someone managed to get them up there on Wednesday, but nobody did this on Thursday. The thing I missed was the sudden appearance of the piano in the front center area while Neil was off to his left and our right doing “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” with Linda. I just got so much into their performance that I never thought to look anywhere else.

    The other thing was the sudden appearance of the string quartet from the back corner of the stage to a place right behind him near the front. It happens during the “Girl, You’ll Be A Woman Soon” segment. They get up from the chairs with their instruments and get into chairs on a movable stage segment that’s also in the back. They rode this under the stage and then appeared up front to play right behind him on “I Haven’t Played This Song In Years” and “You Are The Best Part Of Me”. During “At The Movies”, they do this in reverse.

    Before the show, I saw eight women from Delaware dressed in T-shirts that spelled out the letters IAMISAID. I asked them if they were from this message board, but only one of them had heard of it. I gave them the http://www.iamisaid.com link, so I hope they show up. I also took a picture of them in the lobby, but I didn’t get a name or other contact information for any of them, in case it comes out, so I can send it to them. They ended up sitting not too far from me, and they really had a ball getting up during their namesake song and showing themselves off.

    If I think of anything else, I’ll post it later.

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  9. Regina Litman
    Corrections and Additions
    Fri Oct 19 14:20:55 2001

    I typed the link to this message board incorrectly in my message, but I did give the women iaisnd.com, not what I ended up typing.

    And Val, thanks for posting about your experience. I didn’t know that the woman was one of us, so I’m glad that he picked someone from our community again (as he did the first night in Cleveland). I probably got some of your outfit mixed up with someone else’s (someone a few rows behind me had a USA jacket on), plus I first noticed you walking in front of Neil’s flag curtain, and maybe it blended in a bit.

    During the “Sweet Caroline” performances, Neil plugs in a number that’s supposed to approximate an attendance figure in the line “We fill it up with only two” – the number replaces “two”. On Wednesday, he used a number in the 17 thousands (I wanted him to use 18,009, which is 9 times 2001), but on Thursday, he brought it down to a number in the 15 thousands. I don’t know if anyone briefs him on the possible figure, but if anything, there seemed to be more people there on Thursday than on Wednesday.

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  10. Rachel
    Wow Regina….
    Fri Oct 19 14:16:23 2001

    Your post made me relive that entire night. You were fortunate enough to see both nights. Neil was great. The songs were great. The band was great. The crowd was great. I was sitting in the middle section on the first level, on your right, Neil’s left. My seats turned out better than I thought they were. Like I said lastnight, I’m kicking myself for not bringing a camera.
    I too thought that the requests yelled out for Cracklin Rosie during Yes I Will were somewhat rude. This part of the concert was beautiful and brought tears to my eyes. The yells kind of took away from the peacefulness and beauty of Neil’s piano playing.
    I also saw the women with the black Tshirts with gold letters, but my mother and I couldn’t figure out what the shirts had spelled. Those ladies looked like they were having the time of their lives.
    Val from DC, if you read this, I just want to tell you that you were such a lucky girl!!! Neil looked at you so tenderly and lovingly. I’ll tell you I was definitely jealous!! Being 18, I looked at my mom and said, “Mom, why didn’t he pick me? I’ll be a woman soon!” I got a laugh from her, as well as from the group of ladies sitting in the row in front of us.
    I also really enjoyed the band introductions. Starflight has always been one of my favorite Neil songs and to hear it with a more modern sound in concert was very exciting.
    I know I probably sound stupid, but the intro to the concert was excellent. All the lights were off and the large American flag was down. I could see the band members coming out and taking their places onstage. The flag started to rise, and when that lone spotlight shone in the middle of the stage and Neil appeared there, I started to cry. LOL I swear, waiting for years to see him again, him being somewhat close (Well closer than I was to him when I saw him in New York in July for Good Morning America), it was so emotional for me.
    Neil, thank you so much for such an excellent experience. I hope that you continue touring because you have brought so much happiness into my life. Please, always continue your Beautiful Noise.

    ~Rachel from Trenton, New Jersey. (Currently housing at TCNJ in Ewing.)

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