Neil Diamond to play Ipswich

CELIA WIGG Ipswich Town today announced its latest coup with legendary crooner Neil Diamond booked to perform at the Portman Road football ground on May 26, 2005.


They may be in a different league to Norwich City, but the Canaries' traditional rivals down the A12 have got no match when it comes to putting on big gigs.

Ipswich Town today announced its latest coup with legendary crooner Neil Diamond booked to perform at the Portman Road football ground on May 26, 2005.

The top earning solo artist of the 1990s, he shot to fame with such classics as Sweet Caroline and Song Sung Blue. Last month two arena dates in Melbourne, Australia sold out within 20 minutes, and a third had to be scheduled.

His Ipswich appearance is one of only four UK shows he is due to play next spring.

It was only two weeks ago that the club revealed it had scored another megga hit by booking international supergroup REM for a gig there on July 8 next year.

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And its growing reputation as one the region's leading music venues has been underlined with appearances by other top class performers including Tina Turner and Sir Elton John, who wowed more than 23,000 screaming fans at a concert in June.

By contrast, the Canaries' stadium at Carrow Road has yet to take off as a viable music venue for promoters.

In 1997 a Status Quo concert attracted 12,500 people after being dogged with problems, including the illness of Quo's Rick Parfitt who needed a quadruple heart bypass. There were 18,000 tickets on offer.

A follow-up music festival featuring Paul Young and Katrina and the Waves failed to draw the crowds, and a concert by the Royal Philhamonic Orchestra was abandoned because of poor ticket sales.

The only regular large scale event at the ground, other than live matches, is the Jehovah's Witnesses annual conference.

However, Norwich City's chief executive, Neil Doncaster, tonight stressed they had excellent facilities and would like to see the Norwich stadium rival Ipswich in the music stakes.

He said: “We would very much like to be a venue for high profile public concerts. We have a tremendous stadium, it is a fantastic venue for promoters to use if they wish, but we are not in the business of promoting concerts ourselves.”

Ipswich FC spokesman, Terry Baxter, said they were very encouraged by ticket sales for the Neil Diamond and REM gigs.

“Ipswich is ideally situated for this kind of event because it's got good infrastructure in terms of road and rail links. You can get to the stadium from the Midlands and there are good connections for anyone in the south east.

“It is great for the region to attract top international music acts and for Portman Road, and we are delighted to do that. It's really all about attracting important revenue into the club.”

t Tickets went on sale at 9am today, priced from £35 (plus booking fee), available by telephone on 0870 405 0447 or 0870 145 1114 or online via or

t The club has provided a standalone line for customers with special needs on 01473 400555. Corporate and individual hospitality packages may be booked directly through the Club on 01473 400864, 400052 and 400594.