"Piano Man" Billy Joel takes over Carrier Dome for seventh time

Billy Joel performed many of his hits at Syracuse University in front of several generations of concertgoers.

Attendees were in a "New York State of Mind" Friday night at Billy Joel’s seventh concert at SU's Carrier Dome.

"New York State of Mind" was just one of the many hits that he played in his set, which was more than two hours long. Joel opened with "A Matter of Trust" and "Pressure" and closed with an encore set that included "It's Still Rock and Roll to Me," "Big Shot," "You May Be Right" and "Only the Good Die Young." Joel also played many of his other classics, such as "Piano Man," "Uptown Girl" and "The Entertainer."

The crowd was a mixed one with Joel fans of all ages and from all over. Sophia Bowen, from Ontario, Canada, came with her parents as a 13th birthday present. Bowen's parents originally told her that they were not able to get tickets, but then surprised her when they were on vacation.

“We’re big fans, but she’s a bigger one,” Laura Bowen, Sophia’s mom, said.

David O’Toole, a 1991 SU education alum from Syracuse, said he’s been to four of Joel’s other shows at the Dome. This time, however, he brought his wife for her first time.

“It's different every time because Billy Joel is a transitionalist," O'Toole said. "He deals with the times. He deals with real life. He’ll update it to today. He’ll bring the present while respecting the past."

No matter where they came from, most of the attendees were happy with the performance, including Jeff Climey from Toronto who attended the concert with his girlfriend.

“[The show] beyond filled our expectations," Climey said. "It was the first time we’ve seen Billy Joel and it won’t be the last."

The concert was very crowd-oriented. Dancing audience members were often featured on the big screen, and Joel even gave fans a chance to pick certain set numbers. Twice, he gave the audience a choice between two songs, and asked them to cheer for the one they wanted to hear. He played the song that got the loudest response. The contest between "The Ballad of Billy the Kid" and "Vienna" was so close that he had to ask the audience to cheer twice. "Vienna" ended up winning.

Gavin DeGraw opened the show for Joel, playing a half-hour set. His closing song, "Not Over You," was the crowd favorite. He told that audience that he had seen Joel play when he was 15, and that he was honored to perform in the show.

The show also featured a guest performance from one of Joel’s road crew, called Chainsaw. Together, they performed AC/DC’s "Highway to Hell".

Gomez Adams is a DJ for TK99, Syracuse’s classic rock station. At the start of the show, he unveiled the banner that commemorated Joel’s record-breaking seven performances at the Dome. He told the crowd that he, like DeGraw, was honored to be on the stage with Joel. In fact, after Joel introduced him, he said that it was “the coolest thing that ever happened to me.” Joel responded with “You’ve got to get out more.”

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