Neil Diamond 2001-2003 Concert Reviews / Photos

Ottawa, ONT - September 25,  2002

Crowd digs Diamond

Rock icon wows appreciative Corel Centre audience

From the Ottawa Sun

A DIAMOND may be a girl's best friend, but this Diamond's got the rest of us.

Or at least the 13,000 fans who made the trip to the Corel Centre for Neil Diamond's two-hour plus concert last night.

Despite penning some of the most syrupy and lyrically boggling songs in the history of pop, there's still no one who writes a bigger, more radio friendly ballad in the business.

Diamond's longevity and mass appeal were evident as far away as the 417 and Bayshore as one of the largest concert crowds I've seen at the Corel Centre, spanning three and four generations of fans, testified to his universal charisma.

Backed by a 17-member entourage including string quartet, a brass section, a mini-choir of gospel singers, a pair of keyboards and house band, Diamond, dressed in ruby red sequined jersey and black slacks,(whatever happened to Forever in Blue Jeans, Neil?) worked his magic.


After 35 years in the business, the fact that Diamond's still a polished and in-control performer came as no surprise. What was pleasantly surprising was that, at 62, he was in such prime form.

"You are the squeaking door and I am the lubrication. You make the noise and that's where I go," Diamond teased, causing a couple of thousand females to shriek "I'm the loudest, Neil."

From the get-go, the fans were on their feet, clapping, cheering and deliriously eating the whole schtick up. Diamond had a lot more where that came from.

Not just jokes and easy manners and charm but an alarming number of hits from which to choose.

From his early mid-1960s hits Solitary Man, Cherry Cherry, and Red Red Wine to the '70s Play Me, Shilo, Love on the Rocks and Forever in Blues Jeans, he then delivered a goose-pimpling gospel version of Holly Holy, a take of Sweet Caroline that had everyone happily singing along and a version of You Don't Bring Me Flowers worthy of Barbra Streisand.

Of course, Diamond's a master of building the emotional crescendo. "I think it's important that we do a song for our real heroes, the police, the firemen and the men and women in the military," Diamond said to introduce He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother.

Still, the fans couldn't get enough, calling him out for an encore of Cracklin' Rosie, with someone resembling Sun scribe and big Diamond fan Earl McRae leading the chorus of "we got all night!" and a rousing send-off with Brother Love's Traveling Salvation Show worthy of a Baptist preacher.

Maybe it is true what they say, that a Diamond is forever.


Corel Centre


Sun Rating: 5 out of 5


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