San Jose, California - Compaq Center

Dec 09, 2001

Rate
Click to rate this post!
[Total: 0 Average: 0]

This article has 3 Comments

  1. OAKLAND TRIBUNE REVIEW OF SAN JOSE CONCERT
    Mon Dec 10 23:54:36 2001

    Though his voice is now ‘Cracklin, ‘ Neil Diamond is still ‘Cherry’

    By Jim Harrington

    STAFF WRITER

    Neil Diamond has still got it. That much was perfectly clear from the start of his packed show on Sunday night at the Compaq Center in San Jose.

    It’s just that “it” doesn’t happen to be his voice.

    The “Solitary Man” will turn 62 next year and his voice shows his age. He croaks these days as much as he croons.

    But that’s OK because we never followed Diamond for his crystal-clear vocals. It’s always been more about charisma, stage presence and the ability to work a crowd.

    In those arenas, he’s still the man.

    Diamond reminds me of a veteran athlete. He’s the basketball player that will call out his shot to his defender and then make it right over his opponent’s head. He’s the boxer that tells you that a left is coming and still connects anyway. He knows that sometimes telegraphing his next move, and then making good on his promise, can be even more powerful than surprising a crowd with the unexpected.

    Everybody who walked into this house of hockey immediately knew what Diamond was going to open with. Heck, they probably knew before walking in. But the big red, white and blue clue hanging from the front of the stage made it obvious. The American flag was huge, roughly the size of a basketball court. But, then, Diamond also knows that size really does matter.

    When Diamond finally appeared, his rabid crowd was ready to pledge their allegiance as the patriotic singer rumbled through his classic “America.” A small group of fans at the front of the stage brought out small flags to wave and, in case the point had yet to hammered home, three more flags unfurled from the top of the stage. It was a blatant attempt to tie into the emotions of Sept. 11, but it wasn’t exploitive, it was just the real Neil.

    “Uh-oh, I got a feeling that things might get out of control tonight,” Diamond said early on.

    But Diamond is a master of control and the evening went exactly as he wanted it. The adoring crowd rose and danced at the appropriate times, then sat and listened attentively when the material called for it. In return, this ultimate professional made the San Jose crowd feel special and different from the rest of the places Diamond plays. He made the people feel good to be from San Jose and that’s no easy task – just ask the Redevelopment Agency or the downtown association.

    “We are happy to be back in San Jose. It’s one of our favorite places in the whole world, especially now with all our country is going through,” he said. “But if it is true that music has the power to heal, then let the healing begin.”

    The healing was at its best with the fast songs, where the muscle of the 17-piece band could better hide Diamond’s voice. “Cherry, Cherry,” a top-10 hit in 1966, was a blast as Neil strummed the acoustic guitar and people danced and sang with the joy that only comes from hearing an old-time favorite song played live. “I’m a Believer,” a Diamond-penned track that the Monkees went to the top of the charts with, was also a groovy good time.

    Of course, Diamond has so much material to chose from that when the hits start coming, it turns into a regular musical avalanche. Toward the end of his 26-song main set, and before the encores began to rain down, the singer treated his loyal following to such big ones as “I Am . . . I Said,” “Forever in Blue Jeans” and “Sweet Caroline.”

    Unfortunately, we also got such painful tunes as “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers.”

    By the time he got to playing the songs that one would expect would be encores, like the fantastic “Cracklin’ Rose,” no one in the building could doubt that Diamond still has it.

    You can reach Jim Harrington at jharrington@angnewspapers.com.

    0

    0
  2. CONTRA COSTA TIMES REVIEW
    Tue Dec 11 00:08:52 2001

    Flawless, flashy Diamond still making them swoon
    TONY HICKS: MUSIC CRITIC

    Still as smooth as ever, singer sticks mainly to old favorites and throws in some new songs

    By Tony Hicks
    CONTRA COSTA TIMES

    THE MAN in the black leather jacket was in his 20s, next to his equally young female companion, standing in front of their seats at the sold-out Neil Diamond show at Compaq Arena at San Jose on Sunday night. Screaming all night, surrounded by grandmothers, he simply couldn’t help himself any longer.

    “Neeeeilllll, Neeeeilll, you (blankety) rock, you (blankety blank)!”

    He let loose his expletive-filled mantra again, drawing stares from three or four of the grandmothers. Recovering from hearing so many blankety-blanks in a public place, a couple of them giggled, knowing where he was coming from.

    Neil Diamond can do that to a grandma … or even a guy in his 20s. Diamond was everything he was supposed to be Sunday — clad in a glittery purple shirt tucked into black polyester pants and delivering his classics as well as cuts from “Three Chord Opera,” said to be his first album of all-new material in more than 25 years, as dramatically as possible.

    The crowd variation could have been the subject of a graduate thesis. College kids screaming as loud as the longtime fans — some in wheelchairs, some needing sign language interpreters in a special section near the floor. Apparently you didn’t even need to hear all the words to soak up the spectacle.

    As for the rest of us — what the heck, you just have to let it go sometimes. Despite the Las Vegas-like pomp that has inspired more than a few jokes about Diamond the past decade (or two), there’s no denying that the 60-year-old connects with his fans, and that he’s written more than a couple of truckloads of great songs. After all, he released his first greatest hits album in 1968 — only a couple of years after his recording career started.

    Diamond predictably began his two-hour spectacular by dropping an airplane hangar-sized American flag covering the stage, opening with “America.” He brought along a 17-member backing band, over whom more flags unfurled at song’s end when Diamond struck that pointing-toward-the-heavens move that ended his remake of “The Jazz Singer” two decades ago (he’d match the pose on at least another half dozen songs throughout the night — he really had no choice, did he?).

    What followed was a cavalcade of greatest hits and a few from his new record, which stood up pretty well. Diamond had his permanent sway on all night — when he wasn’t strolling the stage edge, soaking up the adulation of all the women.

    Yes, Diamond still gets the chicks. After plowing through “Solitary Man,” “Cherry, Cherry” (which was when the guy in the leather jacket finally snapped and started his gleeful cursing), “Red Red Wine” and “I’m a Believer,” Diamond started in with the women up front.

    While introducing “Play Me,” Diamond mentioned he sometimes gets weepy on stage. Just then, some woman rushed the stage and offered him something with which to dry his eyes. After a theatrical toweling off, Diamond lent her the microphone, into which she asked if he wanted her phone number. A similar scene played out later, at the end of “Girl … You’ll Be a Woman Soon,” during which he leaned down and let a woman pet his face for about a minute, then finished her off with a big lip-lock. “My goodness, I think she’s ready,” he said.

    The strong baritone throat was in fine working order all night — the guy hasn’t lost anything but some hair over the years. He played new songs “You’re the Best Part of Me,” “I Believe in Happy Endings,” and “I Haven’t Played This Song in Years,” featuring a female string quartet emerging from under the stage. The only song that didn’t really work was another new one, “At the Movies,” which sounded like a cheap commercial. It became a great opportunity for a lot of people to hit the restrooms.

    When they got back, Diamond was back hammering at the old catalog — “Forever in Blue Jeans,” “Captain Sunshine,” and a drawn-out “Sweet Caroline,” during which he ended the song twice, only to start it again because, as he told the screaming crowd arena, he didn’t have to be at work the next morning. He did a theatrical “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers,” with backup singer Linda Press, “Shilo,” “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother,” (prompting some crowd flag-waving when he dedicated it to policemen, firemen, and soldiers), and a very serious “I Am … I Said.”

    Just when he was in danger of getting a bit heavy himself, he ended the show with “Cracklin’ Rosie” and a gospel-charged “Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show” before the American flag dropped again.

    Having so many ballads at times stalled the show, but it’s what he does. It’s pointless to watch Diamond and worry about trends and how he fits into the modern music world. He’s become a music world onto himself, and it would be disappointing if he wasn’t wearing the sparkling shirt, gesturing to the crowd, and making the women (and well-groomed guys in leather jackets) swoon.

    0

    0
  3. SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS REVIEW
    Tue Dec 11 08:30:13 2001

    Published Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2001, in the San Jose Mercury News

    With ageless appeal, star shines like — well, like Neil Diamond
    BY TONY HICKS
    Contra Costa Times

    The man in a black leather jacket simply couldn’t help himself any longer.

    “Neeilllll,” he screamed, letting loose an expletive-filled torrent describing Neil Diamond’s ability to rock. He drew stares from three older women standing next to him at the sold-out Compaq Center at San Jose on Sunday night. After they recovered, they giggled in agreement.

    Diamond can do that to a grandma and to a guy in his 20s. Diamond was everything he was supposed to be Sunday — clad in a glittery purple shirt and delivering his classics as dramatically as possible.

    Despite the Vegaslike pomp that has inspired jokes about Diamond the past decade (or two), there’s no denying that the 60-year-old connects with his fans or that he’s written truckloads of great songs.

    Perhaps predictably, Diamond opened his two-hour spectacular by dropping an airplane hangar-sized U.S. flag covering the stage, opening with “America.” He brought along a 17-member band, over whom more flags unfurled at song’s end. That’s when Diamond struck the first of several pointing-toward-the-heavens moves that ended his remake of “The Jazz Singer” two decades ago.

    What followed was a cavalcade of greatest hits plus a few songs from “Three Chord Opera,” his first album of all-new material in more than 25 years. Diamond had a permanent sway on all night — when he wasn’t strolling the stage edge, soaking up the adulation of all the women.

    Yes, Diamond still gets the chicks. After plowing through “Solitary Man,” “Cherry, Cherry” (which was when the guy in the leather jacket finally snapped and started his gleeful cursing), “Red Red Wine,” and “I’m a Believer,” Diamond started in with the women up front.

    While introducing “Play Me,” Diamond mentioned he sometimes gets weepy on stage. One woman rushed the stage and offered him something to dry his eyes. After a theatrical toweling off, Diamond lent her the microphone, and she asked if he wanted her phone number. A similar scene played out at the end of “Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon.” Diamond leaned down and let a woman pet his face, then finished her off with a lip-lock. “My goodness, I think she’s ready,” he said.

    His strong baritone was in fine working order all night — all he’s lost over the years is some hair. Most of his new songs — “You’re the Best Part of Me,” “I Believe in Happy Endings” and “I Haven’t Played This Song in Years” — worked. The only clunker all night was another new one, “At the Movies,” which sounded like a cheap commercial.

    But Diamond responded by hammering at the old catalog — “Forever in Blue Jeans,” “Captain Sunshine” and a drawn-out “Sweet Caroline.” He did a theatrical “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers,” “Shilo,” “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” and a very serious “I Am — I Said.” Just when he was in danger of getting a bit heavy himself, he ended the show with “Cracklin’ Rosie” and a gospel-charged “Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show,” before the American flag dropped again.

    It’s pointless to watch Diamond and worry about trends and how he fits into the modern music world. He’s become a music world unto himself, and it would be disappointing if he weren’t wearing the sparkling shirt, gesturing to the crowd and making the women (and well-groomed guys in leather jackets) swoon.

    0

    0

Leave a Reply