Updated: Just magic

November 4, 2010
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I’d have posted this sooner but we didn’t get back to the hotel until late … and we’re no spring chickens now, are we?

Anyway, Leonard Cohen. What can I say except brilliant.

The concert was amazing, his voice, his band, his words and his pure  joy at doing what he does so well made it an event to remember.

Even a little microphone malfunction during Everybody Knows didn’t cause  any real dramas … the  band kept playing, the backing singers kept singing the chorus  and young Mr Cohen simply wandered towards another microphone to use around the same time as one of his crew ran across the front of the stage to fix his ailing mic. And that crew member received a well-deserved round of applause for his efforts.

I’d type more but am using an internet kiosk at the airport and the space bar isn’t working properly. Even worse, half the screen’s cut off so I’m not sure if what I’m typing is even readable!

And now that I’m back at home and not using an awful airport internet kiosk (and have fixed the various typos), let’s continue  …

There were some lovely touches during the concert. We all knew we’d cheer when he got to the “I was born with the gift of a golden voice” line in Tower of Song but there were also some unexpected little treats that made everyone smile, including the synchronised cartwheels of the Webb sisters during The Future and the great man himself thanking the crowd for staying when he returned to the stage for the second half.

All the expected songs were there — Hallelujah, Tower of Song, Suzanne, Bird on a Wire, The Anthem (probably my favourite Cohen song)  — along with some of the oldies that I wasn’t sure we’d hear, such as Sisters of Mercy and Chelsea Hotel #2, and quite appropriately, he ended the whole evening with Closing Time.

Then there was A Thousand Kisses Deep, recited as it was written, as a poem. There was complete silence as everyone was simply mesmerised by the words.

The other wee surprise was the energy level: he skipped on stage, skipped off again, was on his knees singing then back on his feet in one fluid movement time and time again and skipped back on to the stage with as much energy as a teenager for his two encores, which took in five songs.

In all, we got more than three hours of live Leonard Cohen during the the two parts of the main act. A big ask for many performers, not just a septuagenarian.

And let’s face it, there are few out there who could hold an audience spellbound for all that time without the gimmicks of pyrotechnics, a dance routine or some other bit of fluffy tat. Cohen and his incredibly talented band and backing singers had us all engrossed for the entire time, which flew by so fast I kept forgetting just how uncomfortable the seats were.

At around $200 a ticket it wasn’t a cheap night, especially when you add in airfares and accommodation. However, it was worth every cent.

I spent a good part of the flight home today “relistening” to some of the many Cohen tracks I have on my iPod and have to say that his voice has got even better with age. And that while I thought the Live in London CD and DVD (yes, I bought both)  from his last tour were as good as it could possibly get, I now know that isn’t the case: hearing him live was unbeatable.

Bic Runga was the opening act and provided just shy of half an hour of music, mixing some of her well-known tracks with songs from her not-yet-released album.

I haven’t got anything negative to say about the concert itself but do have a couple of gripes about some aspects of the venue and the ticketing. However, I’ve moved those to a separate post so they don’t detract from what was an amazing concert.

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