Thursday, February 26, 2009

The great Mr. Cohen

Last week I got tickets to see the Ladies' Man in concert. Out of the blue, Ian and Chris from the Festival Network called me up. They told me they had tickets to a special one-off Leonard Cohen show at the newly refurbished Beacon Theatre in New York. It's a magical place and the concert was primarily for press and music insiders. So much for dinner plans that night. We rushed up to P.J. Clarke’s, had a quick seafood platter and a couple of beers and then off to the Beacon.

The hall was packed with Leonard’s long-time followers, and they loved him. Their excitement and anticipation was overwhelming and they couldn’t resist giving him standing ovations before, during, or after most songs. The band of 5 musicians and 3 female vocalists was terrific. 74 year old Leonard looked very cool in a black trilby, black suit, and gray shirt and was as magnetic and charismatic as ever. When he said this was his first concert in 15 years in New York City, he stopped the show. The last time he was here he was as a young stripling of 59. What a terrific attitude.

For me the power of Cohen's lyrics and the passionate perfection of the orchestra, the incredible harmonies and the lived in voice combined to make it the best night of 2009 so far. He sang all the old stuff including "Hallelujah", "Bird on the Wire", "Suzanne", "Chelsea Hotel", and a lot of his more recent stuff too. "I’m Your Man" was sung with great humor and brought the house down. The show started at 8:00pm and he was still going strong at 11:15pm – with the crowd wanting more. I’ve seen Leonard in concert in the 70’s, 80’s, early 90’s, and now the 00’s. He remains a captivating performer.

He’s touring now because having spent a decade in a Buddhist monastery in California, he returned down from the mount to find his manager had pretty much taken all his money and left him with nothing. He was persuaded to go on tour again and obviously loves it.

Next day I went out and bought a trilby from Ben Sherman.

I’m also listening to some great new music. Andrew Bird and his new album Noble Beast, M. Ward's Hold Time, J. Tillman's Vacilando Territory Blues, and Animal Collective’s Merriweather Post Pavilion are helping me stay mellow in these tough times. But nothing compares to the great Mr. Cohen.


Anonymous said...

My parish Priest first introduced me to Mr Cohen, funny that, he being a Roman Catholic and Cohen being Jewish.

The track was the haunting Susanne; will we ever know who Suzanne was...Jesus’ lover?

dR mIKE said...

leonard Cohen is coming to Ottawa. many years ago a friend was "babysitting" for some peoepl whow ere holding a party in Dorval Quebec ( Montreal suburb) . We were about 14 or os ( Boys babysat in thsoe days) He told me about a friend of the people who hosted the party, a "new" singer named Leonard Cohen. he was taken and i have been since I first heard him not much later...Thanks for a nice sotry is funw hen you enjoy it :)


Tina Harris-Pampouneau said...

oh, i have to comment on this one! my husband bought tickets to see LC in paris, and they were so expensive, i was furious!!! until of course the night of the concert. what magic. what great fun. and what extraordinary lyrics. i had tears running down my face for half the show, from the man's voice, his words, his grace, and how this man took what he thought to be an awful situation - having nothing left for your retirement when you're already in it! - found a solution, got on with it, and then obviously found, to his great surprise, that he was having a ball. and that the love he was receiving from people all over the world could power a large country, let alone warm a heart completely.
as someone quoted me once when i was despairing of my ability to raise our 3 y.o. well (after tantrum number i'd lot count):

"Forget your perfect offering,
There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in" - L Cohen

beautiful night, which was in october for us, so thanks for reminding me.

lulu said...

Saw him for the first time here in LA last week, been in love with his hauntingly beautiful lyrics, smoky voice and devastatingly soul-touching magnetisme since i was a fourteen-old in paris...and to see him now in my thirties was simply magical...I have been blessed all over less than a week my two favorite living poets--guessed right, Bruce is the other one--INSPIRED me...
PS. but no trilby hat for me :)