Denver, Colorado - Pepsi Center

Nov 04, 2001

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  1. Smoky Lady
    Denver review
    Mon Nov 5 15:53:34 2001

    posted originally on Mon Nov 5 10:52:50 2001

    Denver was a wonderful show. We had great seats to the right of the stage and did lots of yelling. He seemed to be looking at us. The crowd was kind of stuffy but our section to the right front of the stage stood up quite a bit. My 10 year old daughter enjoyed it too and was dancing and clapping with me. I just don’t like getting in and out of the Pepsi Center. Too big of a crowd going in and out for me at those front lower doors.
    They briefly eyeballed the top of my purse. I could have had a camera or tape recorder in there. In fact, I had forgot to take out some old mace I had in there for protection and they didn’t even catch it. That’s kind of scary.
    They were really quiet after Yes I Will/Lady Magdalene, so I yelled real loud. I think Neil appreciated it. He looked right at us. It’s always great when he seems to respond to something you do, as long as it’s not at an inappropriate time in the show.

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  2. DAILY CAMERA (BOULDER) REVIEW
    Mon Nov 5 08:23:01 2001

    All-American Diamond shines with songs to heal a nation

    By Greg Glasgow
    Camera Popular Music Writer

    DENVER — “If it is true that music has the power to heal,” Neil Diamond told a crowd of more than 16,000 Sunday night at the Pepsi Center, “well, let the healing begin.” And that after he’d already brought the house down by appearing in the wake of a giant red, white and blue flag to open the show with his ultra-patriotic hit, “America.”

    Though the two hours that followed weren’t filled with, in the strictest sense, “healing” music, they provided the perfect sea of songs on which to sail away the cares and worries of an anxious nation. Most were simply fun clap-alongs about boys meeting girls or girls leaving boys: Infectious, melodic classics like “Cherry Cherry,” “Sweet Caroline” and “I’m a Believer” (currently riding the charts again thanks to a hit version by Smash Mouth) had the crowd up and dancing the night away.

    Teenagers, senior citizens and everyone in between were caught up in the magic of the singer-songwriter’s legendary live show. And while he’s no longer the wild-haired young man clad in leather, the 60-year-old Diamond (clad in a sequin-studded shirt and sensible slacks) can still command a stage, whether strapping on an acoustic guitar to bang out “Red Red Wine” or fully reclining near the front of the stage to croon “Girl, You’ll Be A Woman Soon” to two female fans.

    The tour is Diamond’s first in three years (his last stint in Denver was ringing in the new millennium at the Can), and while it’s a departure in terms of production — his longtime “in the round” stage has given way to a more traditional setup, and the banks of synthesizers have been replaced by a 17-piece band with real strings and horns — in terms of material, it’s more or less the same greatest-hits show Diamond has been doing for years.

    Save for a quartet of tunes from his recent Three Chord Opera album, nearly every song was from his hit-heavy past. Diamond ventured into some of his schmaltzier ’70s work (“Love on the Rocks,” “Forever in Blue Jeans,” “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers”), but the best moments of the night were from Diamond’s golden late-’60s/early-’70s period: “Shilo,” “Cracklin’ Rosie,” “I Am … I Said,” “Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show,” etc.

    Sure, it was essentially the same set he’s played at every stop on the tour thus far, but that gravelly voice is still capable of packing an impressive amount of emotion into songs it’s sung a million times. When that voice implores you to “Stand up for America!,” you do, and you cheer and you smile at the strangers standing next to you, and you go home with a dozen classic melodies rolling around your head, and for a few days at least, you’re a little bit happier, and a little bit less worried about the state of the world.

    Thanks, Neil.

    November 5, 2001

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  3. ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS REVIEW
    Mon Nov 5 08:25:18 2001

    Diamond drives music in his old, familiar style

    By Steve Knopper, Special to the News

    Hidden somewhere inside the schmaltzy Neil Diamond — the man who sings America beneath five giant flags, wears a sparkly blue open-collar shirt and lies on his side to seduce two women in the audience — is a rock ‘n’ roll songwriter.
    This behind-the-scenes professional, who gave I’m a Believer to the Monkees, Solitary Man to Chris Isaak, Red, Red Wine to UB40 and Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon to Urge Overkill, is subtle and economical, and he still makes brief appearances at Diamond’s Vegas-style revues.

    This rocking Neil Diamond reminded us Sunday night, during a rockabilly-and-R&B version of the staccato Cherry Cherry, that John Cougar Mellencamp didn’t create his hit R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A. out of nowhere. This Diamond, strumming an acoustic guitar, drew out all the dark corners of Solitary Man, a brilliant loner’s ballad, which under other circumstances could have been a devastating country-western hit.

    But this Diamond was not who the Pepsi Center crowd came to see. Diamond, of course, built his star power in the ’70s as a glittery showman who drenched his anthems with melodrama.

    Backed by a 17-piece orchestra Sunday night, Diamond took each of these one-time radio smashes — the opening America; Sweet Caroline; Forever in Blue Jeans; Captain Sunshine; He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother (dedicated to New York City firefighters) — completely over the top.

    “Symphonic” was an understatement. Rather than relying on his deep and supersmooth but ultimately one-dimensional voice, Diamond slipped inside of his veteran band’s oom-pah-pah (Beautiful Noise), jump blues (I’m a Believer) and corny lounge music (You Are the Best Part of Me).

    Toward the end of Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon, the 60-year-old singer-songwriter caressed two women beneath the stage. Then he rolled onto his back and sighed: “Where am I? Wow. Has anybody got a cigarette?”

    Diamond, who began his music career in the mid-’60s as a songwriter-for-hire, quickly turned himself into the quintessential middle-of-the-road singer. He sang duets with Barbra Streisand and, despite his distinct lack of Christianity, managed two Christmas albums.

    Although he releases new material infrequently these days, his latest album, this year’s Three Chord Opera, is filled with Diamond classics — simple, emotional turns of phrase (like I Haven’t Played This Song in Years) set to pop tunes that seem familiar the first time you hear them.

    The downside is, like all Diamond songs, they become so familiar they drive you crazy. And to do that, you need real talent.

    November 5, 2001

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  4. DENVER POST REVIEW
    Mon Nov 5 21:36:51 2001

    Diamond glitters at Pepsi Center

    By Eric L. Reiner
    Special to The Denver Post

    Tuesday, November 06, 2001 – “If it is true that music has the power to heal, well then let the healing begin,” Neil Diamond said a few songs into his concert Sunday at the Pepsi Center.

    In truth, the healing was underway from the get-go. Diamond had opened with the rousing “America” (from the 1980 film “The Jazz Singer”), and improvised lyrics like “stand up for America” – which everyone enthusiastically did – set the tone for a show that was part patriotic pep rally, part come-on, part tent revival, and long on late-20th-century popular music.

    Diamond’s current tour is his first since performing at The Can on Millennium Eve, when top tickets went for a thousand clams. Diamond is plowing that big payday back into his show: On this tour he’s traveling with 17 musicians – half again as many as backed him at the New Year’s Eve 1999 gala – who played everything from trippy percussion (on the African-flavored “Soolaimon”) to 12-string guitar. The ensemble included a string quartet and four-piece horn section that combined to hammer home a powerful rendition of “Holly Holy.”

    Not that every musician played on every song, mind you. “Cherry, Cherry” featured acoustic guitars, drums, percussion and little else, which yielded a delightfully sparse rendition reminiscent of the original.

    Other highlights of Sunday’s concert were the classic hits “Sweet Caroline” (the horn section did the original version proud) and “I Am . . . I Said,” the new “I Believe in Happy Endings” (sweeping strings plus an impressive horn solo), and Diamond’s strong vocal on “If You Know What I Mean.” Everyone stood and clapped to the bounce of 1978’s “Forever in Blue Jeans.”

    The 60-year-old entertainment icon – graying temples have replaced the long sideburns of his youth – wore a sparkly shirt and didn’t talk between many of the songs. But when he did stop the hit parade momentarily to chat with the crowd, he offered a glimpse of the mind behind his music.

    When he looks at a piano, for example, the native New Yorker says he thinks about all the wonderful melodies that have yet to be composed on it. He also called songwriting “direct”; you pour your heart out, he said, and hope it connects with someone.

    The core of Diamond’s band – keyboardist Tom Hensley, flashy percussion player King Errisson (dressed in deep red and gold chains), bassist Reinie Press – has been with him for more than two decades, but steel-drum player Vince Charles has passed. In a touching moment, Diamond dedicated the obscure “Captain Sunshine” (from the 1972 LP “Moods”) to the memory of his fallen band member.

    The most moving performance of the evening was the No. 1 hit “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers,” rendered as a duet with vocalist Linda Press (another Diamond-band veteran). At the end of the love-is-gone song, the two singers tenderly embraced, then Diamond joked with the crowd: “I get to sing and kiss a beautiful girl. It’s rough up here.”

    “Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon” was Diamond’s vehicle for putting the moves on two lucky female fans in the front row. He began by singing straight at the ladies, then fell to his knees in front them, took their hands as he continued to croon, and at the end of the song kissed each on the smacker – not bad for 60, eh?

    The gospel-revival bit came in the encore, on “Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show.” Diamond, who has had a home in the Aspen area for years, updated the raucous number by including “gay and straight” in his list (“black and white, rich and poor, great and small”) of “God’s children all.”

    Although Diamond had begun the night on a patriotic note – and he ended it that way, too, shouting, “God bless America!” just before leaving the stage – Sunday’s show was, in the final analysis, a concert, not a flag-waving contest. While the performer acknowledged our country’s “difficult times, we need to retain a sense of optimism,” Diamond told the crowd.

    With feel-good classics like “Cracklin’ Rosie” and “Red Red Wine” (which UB40 covered and took to No. 1 in the 1980s), it’s safe to say that for two hours Sunday night, Diamond’s musical legacy helped folks do just that.

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