The top stories of 2008: Concerts
Posted by Mark Bialczak December 29, 2008 7:57PM
Categories: Music, Top Entertainment
From huge shows at the steamy state fair grandstand and revved-up Event Center to intimate shows in cozy rooms like the Redhouse and Westcott Community Center, there was a wide swath of notable concerts throughout 2008.
To keep with a tradition that started in 1993, I whittled my list down to a top 10. Variety sure did make life spicy.
Here's my collection of goose-bump moments.
* 1. Mark Knopfler at Landmark Theatre, July 20: The guitarist extraordinaire filled the downtown Syracuse palace with his trademark sound, rich and golden.
Knopfler used six different guitars and a voice filled with just the right touch of been-down-the-road gravel to revisit the glory days of Dire Straits and chronicle the deep songbook the native of Scotland has built in his solo career.
* 2. Martina McBride at Onondaga County War Memorial, March 2: McBride let loose with her big and beautiful country music voice and practically raised the roof off the old hockey barn.
The crowd cheered her hit song "A Broken Wing" so long and so loudly that McBride wiped a tear from the corner of her eye.
* 3. West Coast/East Coast Dream Band at Syracuse Jazz Fest, June 27: The band of all-star jazz musicians directed by keyboardist David Garfield didn't play last on the first day of jazz fest, but it did play best.
Trumpeter Randy Brecker, saxophonist Bob Sheppard, guitarist Chuck Loeb and singer Alex Ligertwood brought funk to the forefront with Steely Dan's "Josie." It was a hot time on the grassy hills of Onondaga Community College.
* 4. Journey with Heart and Cheap Trick at state fair grandstand, Aug. 23: New singer Arnel Pinada breathed a whole new life into classic rock band Journey. His vocals were a dead ringer for the biggest-name lead singer, Steve Perry, and the sold-out crowd gobbled up every note of "Open Arms," "Don't Stop Believing" and more.
Heart, with the powerhouse vocals of Ann Wilson, turned in a headliner-worthy set as her covers of The Who's "Love Reign O'er Me" and Led Zeppelin's "Goin' to California" scintillated. The antics of Rick Nielsen and Robin Zander in opener Cheap Trick were fun, too.
* 5. Stevie Tombstone at Redhouse, March 29: Tombstone thrilled the 100 folks jammed into the Armory Square art house with his passionate alt-country style. The roots rock was thick from his guitar and his mind in the rough-and-tumble "Kevlar Heart." Guest guitarist Rick Richards (of Georgia Satellites), Tombstone's bass-playing wife, Melissa, and veteran Auburn drummer Ron Thompson helped make Tombstone's first show in his new hometown crackle like an open fire. Everybody cheered his move here from Texas, too.
* 6. Nancy Kelly and Ronnie Leigh at Jazz in the Square, July 24: The buckets of rain falling on Clinton Square scrapped the plan for these two seminal Syracuse jazz singers to play with the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra. But the opening night of Jazz in the Square went on when the weather broke, and Kelly and Leigh moved the diehard couple of hundred fans with their marvelous vocals, backed by the wondrous work of Rick Montalbano on piano, Joe Carello on sax, Jeff Stockham on trumpet, Ed Castilano on bass and Herb Flower on drums.
* 7. David Byrne at Landmark Theatre, Nov. 29: Singer-guitarist Byrne enlisted a trio of backup dancers to help nudge the night from mere concert to performance art. The Scottish-born Byrne won over the crowd with songs from his new CD, written with longtime pal Brian Eno, and gave them a rush with the surging songs from his eternally popular rock band Talking Heads.
* 8. Tony Trischka at Westcott Community Center, March 8: Syracuse native Trischka regaled the capacity crowd for his homecoming show with the vibrant banjo worked that earned him a Grammy nomination for the 2008 awards. Trischka came from New Jersey loaded with warm tales on this snowy night, too. New York City pal Michael Daves and Syracuse crony Tom Hosmer helped Trischka turn Bill Monroe's "Can't You Hear Me Calling" into a celebration.
* 9. Sugarland at Turning Stone Event Center, Oct. 16: Singer Jennifer Nettles and guitarist Kristian Bush trusted their country music fans enough to roll out over the crowd sealed in big, plastic spheres. Before that, they'd sealed the relationship with hot versions of "Baby Girl" and "Something More." Nettles showed the voice and charisma to put Sugarland into top echelon of country stars.
* 10. Jonas Brothers at state fair grandstand, Aug. 29: The brothers from New Jersey - Nick, Joe and Kevin - kept the kids screaming in the sold-out grandstand with energetic pop and spectacular effects. At one point, the three were lifted at least 50 feet, almost to the roof over the stage, on individual podiums. The reaction: "Squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeal!"
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