seamless. sublime. sexy. everything you’d expect from a leonard cohen concert. (everything i expected, anyway.)
heard the master at auckland’s vector arena last night and was, well, blown away. i’ll try not to gush on here too much, but it’s not often poets-cum-songwriters fill arenas and get standing ovations just for stepping onto the stage … and then get called back for seven encore numbers. sounding at times like tom waits, the gravel-voiced canadian icon treated the adoring new zealand crowd to an embrace of “greatest hits” proportion. dressed to kill in a dapper black suit and fedora, he delivered many of his offerings from a crouch position, almost as if kneeling in prayer, and cradled the microphone in both hands like it was a baby chick or a fragile shell.
there doesn’t seem to be anything fragile about this still rakish-looking wordsmith, however — despite having worn his heart on his sleeve for five decades. the 75-year-old who still oozes sex appeal — damn! — was on the stage for almost three full hours, breaking for just one 20-minute intermission after the first hour and then bounding back for almost two straight hours of classic cohen, songs that celebrate the light and the dark of the world and of the human condition, the human heart; our brokenness, our longing for love.
a man of few words between songs, he drew a huge, knowing laugh when he said “i studied the religions, the philosphies … but cheerfulness kept breaking through.”
cohen’s angelic background vocalists, sharon robinson (longtime collaborator on many of his songs) and the webb sisters, hattie and charlie, take his arrangements to a whole nuther stratosphere. and his amazing band is tighter than tight. the whole package was powerful. spiritual. breathtaking. goosebump-inducing.
here is the song list from an unforgettable evening:
dance me to the end of love
ain’t no cure for love
bird on a wire
in my secret life
who by fire
chelsea hotel #2
hey, that’s no way to say goodbye
anthem (ring the bells)
tower of song
the gypsy wife
i’m your man
thousand kisses deep
take this waltz
so long mariane
first we take manhattan
famous blue raincoat
if it be your will
democracy is coming (to the USA)
i tried to leave you
wither thou goest
I’m very, very jealous.
i’m incredibly envious. nice work. =)
Damn, that sounds like heaven!!!!
What a set list!!!
seething with envy…..
with apologies to the edmonton poetry festival … if you have a chance to see him in concert in edmonton on april 25 … go!