On Tuesday, Oct. 9, songwriting legends Elvis Costello and Bob Dylan captivated the audience of the RIT Gordon Field House, bringing them back in time with the music of the '60s and '70s.
Costello represents the English new wave/punk style, but his unique poetic lyrics and voice made him stand out as an exceptional artist. Although there is no songwriter quite like the acclaimed Dylan, the icon of freedom and love during the counterculture revolution. Costello humbly walked onto stage raising his arm in acknowledgement of the audience, but stared directly at his guitars with only one thing on his mind: his music.
He immediately commanded the audience's attention with the intensity of his impassioned voice and a raw guitar style during "The Angel Wanna Wear My Red Shoes." It soon became apparent that Costello is not only a poet, but a storyteller. He entertained the audience with his anecdotes of his family's musical past.
Costello continued to maintain a casual, yet personal, connection with the crowd; he started playing the beginning chords of a song but then stopped in mid strum, commenting, "I like the way this sounds" before strumming the guitar a few more times and smiling. "This is the best sounding gymnasium I've ever been in," he then added.
The most moving aspect of a Costello show is his strident voice: One can hear the emotional stress on his voice when he sings, leaving no doubt that he is performing to his fullest ability. He even stepped back from the microphone in mid-song, but his voice was so powerful that it still sounded amplified.
Costello concluded his set with his anti-war anthems "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding" and "Scarlet Tide," the latter a tragic story of a war widow - perhaps to comment on the political status of today's society.
Dylan has been performing for over forty years and is still capturing audiences with his poetic songs. Dylan is often categorized as a folk musician, but he simply refers to himself as a "song and dance man." The crowd cheered and clapped as he came out with guitar in hand, wearing a characteristic Dylan hat. He then started by playing "Rainy Day Women #12 And 35" accompanied by his band.
Looking around at the crowd, it was evident that this was literally an all-ages show; it was a room full of nostalgia as well as youthful excitement. Dylan sang, even dancing a bit, as he mumbled through some of his classics like "Working Man Blues #2" and "Highway 61."
As the night wore on, he became more energetic and passionate, driving the audience to partake in more singing and dancing to combat with the stadium seating. He pulled out his harmonica for "Positively Fourth Street," and the audience was imbued with happiness on seeing this Bob Dylan relic.
At 66, Dylan is not the same as he was; his raspy voice and sometimes indiscernible lyrics no longer portray a sultry, mysterious poet, but that of a man who has smoked too many cigarettes in his day. He still performs wonderfully, however, and his unwavering soul still shows through in his music exactly as before. Dylan's shows, through his music, that his heart is definitely still burning and yearning.