Syracuse, New York

Oncenter Complex
War Memorial Arena

October 8, 2008

[Dan Horning], [David N. DeVries], [Dan Murray], [Ralf], [Garry Pappin], [Stu Gilmour]

Review by Dan Horning

The Oncenter in Syracuse is really the same old Syracuse War Memorial  now
named after a bank. Modern times indeed. I got there late and missed all
but Elvis's last song before I reached my 2nd row seat. I passed George
outside on the sidewalk getting off a bus and told him as I passed "love
your drumming," as I tend to be a fast talkin  mumbler, he said "what?"
and I said it again, and he gave me a smile neither of us breaking stride.
 guess that made up for missing Amos and Elvis. The Show was a great one &
the crowd was with them all the way, They delivered the goods all night
long, It was one of those nights where the whole show was so good its hard
to pick a  song  or 2 as "highlights"  Leopard Skin pillbox hat" started
off strong,It aint me babe, reminded me how special Bob really is, and how
 being a Bobcat is  kind of a weird obsession,( but a good one) Next up
was "I'll be your baby 2night," I really enjoy this song, and it was good
to hear  in that sequence after being told "it aint me babe." I can always
relate to "Positively.4th St."  which sounded great with the new to my
ears arrangement . The phrasing, rhythm and unique Blues jamming on
"Levees Gonna Break" got everybody bopping. Bob does such funky key's it
just kills me.The show kept movin with  Bob singing a little bit of
these"Working Man Blues #2" ifor us in that old war memorial. It sounded
great Bob's voice was so clear and  the words seemed as relevant as
anything is these days. "Stuck inside of Mobile with the Memphis
Blues.".....again was played/sung great by all involved..and the...yes it
was "Visions of Johanna" I would have been satisfied if the show ended
there! (not happy) Definately one of my personal favorites!A real sweet
version of this rare gem. WE got rocked out with Honest with Me, I always
liked this song even when it was played every night for years. Those well
rehearsed musical breaks in there now are so cool!! Mellowed out  with
"Spirit on the Water" I especially like the line about high on the hill
you can carrying all my thoughts with you.I like high places, and Bob was
bring me to many of them on this night. WE rocked some more goin down
Highway 61 as only Bob can drive it! Next thing I knew the world  had
turned to Black before my eyes! What can i say....Help? WE rocked some
more for Summer Days, and I was so happy to  rock even more for the
"Ballad of a Thin Man" Something was happening in Syracuse,and Bob was
what it is, no doubt Mr. Jones. Like all good things, there ended the main
set. There were some people in the front row who kept getting up and
leaving,several times throughout the show. For the encores they were gone,
and I copped front row for the last 2 numbers which only capped off
perfectly an already increadible night. I had gone to Albany on Sat, and
on the day off stopped into Herkimer NY  on the way to Syracuse to dig the
famous and powerful Herkimer "diamond" crystals. I had a nice one in my
hand as I leaned on the rail for the encores, and was holding the crystal
in my fingers, I caught a glimpse of Dylans main bodyguard, I think they
call him Barron behind Stu's area. I was trying to send out love vibes to
everyone, and really digging being there when suddenly Barron, shined a
flashlight on me, It hink he must have seen the crystal and wanted to know
what was it was. I held it up a little, and he turned off his
flashlight.Tony saw and we had a little kinda laugh it seemed like to me
anyways. I felt truly blessed to be there , oh yeah Thunder rocked too,
and finally how does it feel?? Fuckin Great tonight!!!! 

Peace to all from
Schenectady Dan


Review by David N. DeVries

Amos Lee was really good--tight band, great voice, engaging songs.

Elvis Costello was on fire.  I suspect that much of his patter is now
canned, but it is politically astute (the patter, that is) and his singing
and playing were like few performances I've seen.  Just a guy with an
acoustic guitar (amped, to be sure, to deafening levels) and he had us on
our feet throughout his nearly one hour set--canny sampling in the midst
of his own songs from John Lennon, Dylan himself, the Who and Van
Morrison.  Really spectacular.  And I have to believe that the power of
Elvis punched Dylan up a notch.

Dylan.  He sang Visions of Johanna, a song I haven't heard in concert
often, and he sang it in a new arrangement, but the words were there,
sparkling and clear.  All through his set he sang with passion, as much
passion as his torn voice can muster.  He is rewriting songs,
again--Workingman's Blues has at least one new verse, and he has
rearranged the chorus in a really compelling way.  He even tacked on new
bits to Ballad of a Thin Man.  I gather from the reviews here that he
isn't 'on' every night of this tour, though in most of the reports even
those shows where he starts slow, build.  But he came out last night, like
Elvis, on fire.  And his band matched him.  I know many here have lamented
the changing guitarists over the last few years.  But last night's
ensemble playing was stunning.  Denny Freeman didn't solo in the style of
other lead guitarists--not white-hot playing mowing down everything in its
way.  Instead he wove beautifully melodic lines against and within the
chord structures in ways that made many of the songs shimmer.  It was a
wonder to behold.

David N. DeVries


Review by Dan Murray

Dylan and his Cowboy Band delivered a beautifully paced set in Syracuse.
Old songs and new blended into a seamless, timeless reinvention of melody
and memory and emotion. The band rocked, swung, floated, and filled in the
songs with many instrumental colors. Visions of Johanna was the
centerpiece of a spirited night, Bob playing a lot of sweet, emotive
harmonica on this masterpiece and throughout the gig. Positively 4th
Street was gentle in its brutal instruction. Workingman's Blues was
gorgeous. Highway 61 put the hammer down. Spirit on the Water waltzed with
the audience. Nettie Moore was like a prayer. Like A Rolling Stone burst
open in brilliant, liberating chords. The show had a deep, heartfelt
lyricism. And the opening acts, Amos Lee and Elvis Costello, were equally


Comments by Ralf

As if intensely concentrating, serenading a newly found love even, Bob
Dylan's concert from 10/08 in Syracuse, N.Y.  developed from a mellow,
relaxed set to faster and generally rockier numbers, however delivered
with the same clarity.

Some shows are about distortion and juxtaposition.  Some are seemingly
about Stu's staccato rhythm, some are about other musical details.  And,
after all, it's also work, a job, and therefore not always equally fun. 
At least from my perspective, though, last night was about the voice as
instrument, pure and largely unaltered, and I went home elated for it, as
it couldn't have suited my mood any better.



Review by Garry Pappin

Amos Lee provided an entertaining opening act, and like other reviewers
have noted, there are similarities with Dave Matthews (to some not
necessarily a good thing).  The Syracuse crowd provided enthusiastic
feedback and encouragement that genuinely seemed appreciated by the band.

Elvis Costello was amazing - commanding the stage with his presence, and
attacking guitar and vocals with equal parts intensity, or sensitivity
when needed.  Besides the much loved older songs that he played, Wake Me
Up was outstanding and especially the call and answer chorus, which
included a borrowed line from John Lennon, "Well, I don't wanna be a
soldier mama, I don't wanna die".  Many subtle and not so subtle political
references throughout - the protest song lives on.

This Bob Dylan concert seemed to take a while to get going as the first
few songs were very laid back, but picked up with The Levee's Gonna Break,
again with Visions of Johanna, and finally peaking with magical moments
during Ballad of a Thin Man (especially the long harmonica finale). 
Acoustics in the old War Memorial Arena were very good, and the fans were
very into it - long, loud sustained applause after all songs.  A nice
relaxed venue, with beer and coolers readily available in the arena
hallways.  The encore included the now standard Thunder on the Mountain,
and to everyone's satisfaction, an energetic and powerfully delivered Like
a Rolling Stone.


Review by Stu Gilmour

Made the journey down from Canada one more time. A little Ben
Harper and we arrived safe  and sound in Orange country. The War 
Memorial is a typical American League hockey rink so as good canucks 
we were right at home. The beer and souvenier stands were in full 
swing upon arrival with a palpable pregame buzz from the very mixed 
age crowd. Not sure how but we managed second row dead nuts
center seats for this one. Amos Lee opened and I must say he and his
current band have made a great leap since we last we saw him in Buffalo a
couple of years ago. They moved quickly through their alloted time and
left to rousing applause. A short break brought most of the crowd to their
seats including our row mates to our left who were very involved with the
Yankees and Indians playoff game via their cell phone. Our mates to the
right from Colorado were catching their second Dylan show after initiation
earlier in Colorado this year. With no fanfare Elvis strode to center
stage. Big Gibson, microphone and easel only. We last came upon this
fellow live in the '80's during his infamous thirty minute set tour which
ended I believe in Australia with a trashing of his bands equipment and a
narrow escape stage left. I will admit the thirty minutes we did get to
experience were sublime. Anyhoo, Elvis ran through a tremendous set
spanning some of his best work. He was humorous, political at times and
very much a family man as he announced his twin boys had reached the age
of ten months that week. He also mentioned his wife is piano player. My
fave tune was a beauty version of Veronica. The boy has great pipes proven
when he stepped from the microphone and let his vocals rip. Most of the
set was accompanied on a big Gibson tuned to match the vocals. Several
standing ovations and the set was done. Side note...I read this morning
Elvis has been invited to perform at Hillary's sixtieth birthday bash.
Only in America.  At some point during the first break our Yankee friends
managed to drop the cell phone and only recover one battery. A massive
search did not turn up the other. I did a quick run while the stage was
being set for Mr. Dylan and upon return to the seat was informed the
missing battery had been found in my beer. As a good Canadian I did not
let this deter my enjoyment of what beer was left. It seemed appropriate
to mention I got a good buzz from the low end battery. Lights down and the
band made their way onstage with Mr. Dylan center stage, guitar strapped
on. Pillbox hat got things rollin' and we were on our feet rocking with a
most apprciative crowd. Mr. Dylan was draped in his blacks with gold neck
scarf, pink guitar strap and his new hat. The boys were dressed also in
blacks. Lookin' good, sounding better. Three tunes on guitar then over to
the keys.  A nice mix of old and Modern Times tunes were the order of the
night. Real treat included the smashing version of Visions of Johanna, a
lovely Nettie Moore and a rockin' Hwy 61. Mr. Dylan was very involved this
evening diving into his keys with verve and enthusiasm and at one point
clearly laughed as he went for a vocal out of range. Several extended harp
sessions only added to the mix. Tony and George were magnificent as usual
and the view from the second row allowed us to follow their facial and
body language up close. Denny and Donny are fine contributors as it seems
Mr. Dylan allows a little more freedom each time we have caught this
current line-up. I know Stu takes a bit of a shit-kickin' but I really did
enjoy his work especially when he was pluckin' the big acoustic Gibson
which seemed to have been brought up in the mix. The set ended amazingly
quickly but it did give us a chance to sit and catch our breath before the
encore. By the way, no hassle from security as we were allowed to dance
freely throughout. Thunder on the Mountain and Rolling Stone. My, My. What
a finish to an absolute perfect evening of skilled performance by all the
acts. Thanx to the fine folks at the arena for their kind courtesy. A big
thanx to the "Wildman" who cabbed us back to the hotel. Thanx always Bill
for this fine site.

Stu Gilmour
Hamilton, Canada   


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