Old songs and new, Diamond glitters once again at arena

Posted on Thu, Dec. 08, 2005

Old songs and new, Diamond glitters

once again at arena Review

Music legend returns to the facility he opened in 1999 and serenades appreciative crowd.

By ALAN K. STOUT astout@leader.net

WILKES-BARRE TWP. – Pop icon Neil Diamond returned to the Wachovia Arena on Wednesday, six years – almost to the day – that he christened the venue with its first concert.

Wednesday, like Dec. 13, 1999, was another good night of music, and provided the near-capacity crowd of 7,800 with another strong performance from Diamond.

The singer, who acknowledged his history with the region and thanked the crowd for its long-time support, spiced the first portion of the show with numbers such as “Desiree,” “Beautiful Noise” and the soulful “You Got To Me.”

Diamond, 64, still put some groove into the catchy “Cherry, Cherry,” still put a perfect sentimental touch to softer numbers such as “Play Me,” and still had his fans standing and clapping along to inspiration songs like “America.”

Diamond’s big band featured a horn section, a percussionist and three female backing singers, who brought a touch of soul to several numbers.

Throughout the show, Diamond and company jazzed up fun pop songs such as “Forever in Blue Jeans” and brought lush instrumentation to numbers like “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers.” Other numbers that had the crowd singing along included “Sweet Caroline,” “I’m a Believer” and “Red, Red Wine.”

Selections from Diamond’s latest CD, the critically acclaimed “12 Songs” were also well-received.

Though Wednesday’s show – which ran well over two hours – didn’t come with the same pomp as his gala grand opening of the venue on 12/13/99, some things remain the same: big crowd, lots of big hits and a sparkling concert from Diamond.

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