Phew, that’s Christmas all done and dusted for another year. Hope everyone had a fun day doing whatever it is you like to do to mark the festive season 2013.
Posts about me, my family and friends (yes I have some), Seymour the Wonder Cat and his not-so-trusty sidekick Norman the Newbie Cat and life in general, both online and offline
Three years ago, I was lucky enough to see Leonard Cohen live in concert in Christchurch so when I bought tickets for this bonus return visit, I was expecting it to be something of a carbon copy of that concert. And I was OK with that: the 2010 show was amazing and an experience I was more than ready to repeat.
However, the biggest bonus about last night’s show was that while it was every bit as brilliant as the earlier concert, it also had a few little extra treats.
As expected, the great man himself was every bit as energetic as in 2010, skipping on stage and dropping to his knees as he opened the show. And that opening itself was something of a surprise: no support act, no mucking around, just Leonard Cohen and his incredible band suddenly appearing on stage and getting straight into it. And as with 2010′s concert, he was on his knees singing, and back up with one fluid motion time and time again and seemed to have boundless energy. I suspect no one’s told him he’s 79 years old.
The show started a few minutes after 8pm and — with just a short 10-minute or so break in the middle — finished around 11.30pm: certainly good bang for your buck for the fans.
The first half finished up with my favourite Cohen song, Anthem. I suppose it’s safe to say that what makes the man such a great songwriter is that his words carry so much meaning.
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in …
Let’s compare that, shall we, to the efforts of another Canadian “singer-songwriter”, one Justin Bieber: Baby, baby, baby oooh; Like baby, baby, baby nooo; Like baby, baby, baby oooh; I thought you’d always be mine (mine).
But I digress, back to the greatness.
The “little extra treats” I referred to above included adding a violinist to his already spectacular band, reminding us that he’s a pretty decent guitarist himself, having the Webb sisters take the spotlight for a solo,and the inclusion of a few songs from his last album and the odd one or two we didn’t get at the last concert. However, many of the classics still made an appearance: Bird on a Wire, Hallelujah, Tower of Song, Chelsea Hotel #2 and a rendition of A Thousand Kisses Deep that sent shivers up my spine. You could have heard a pin drop as every one of us seated in that arena was transfixed by his recitation.
The audience was spellbound by every song, fully engrossed in the words the master was sharing with us. And as with all great poetry — because that’s what his songs really are — I’m sure each and every one of us found our own message in the words, taking on board meanings that tied in to what is happening in our own lives at this very moment. A quite serious medical diagnosis last year highlighted my own mortality but also, in turn, prompted me to make positive change. One again it’s Anthem, reminding me that our flaws and frailities are there for a reason, that takes centre stage for me.
Did I hear every one of the Cohen songs I wanted to hear? Probably not, but for that to happen the concert would have lasted at least another 10 hours at least.
However, what we did hear was a perfect mix of old and newer songs, performed by a singer who simply continues to improve as the years go by: his voice seems to have become even deeper, if that’s possible, and the gravelly, aged tone that very occasionally broke through gave his words even more emotion.
The humility of the man is astounding: he received a standing ovation as he came on stage, and another three at the end of the show that prompted encores, but still he thanked the audience for coming out, for sticking around for the second half of the show and for just being fans.
And there was another one of those aforementioned little extra treat for fans during that final encore: we all thought, as he launched into Closing Time, that we were hearing the final song of the show. However, he snuck in one last number that kept everyone on their feet and surprised us all: Save the Last Dance for Me.
It was interesting that an old colleague (old as in a colleague from a few years ago, not as in someone particularly old) commented on Facebook as she awaited the start of the concert that the arena was rapidly filling up with aging hipsters and their adult offspring. While I’ll lay claim to the aging part of the equation, I’m not now nor have I ever been a hipster. Truth be told, I’m probably far from Leonard Cohen’s target audience: my “wild youth” was during the early to mid-1980s, when I was rocking my pink spiked hair, black lipstick and assorted chains while listening to the Clash and the Dead Kennedys. However, as I flew home today and sat on the plane with my iPod on shuffle, I figured I’m probably not the target audience for the likes of Tupac, Justin Timberlake or Babyshambles, either. And as that thought crossed my mind, my iPod shuffled on to Mozart’s Violin Concerto No 3, and it occurred to me that perhaps target audiences don’t really matter.
I wonder how many people back in the day realised that the spikey haired chick in the black lipstick was just as likely to be listening to Verdi’s Requiem as the Public Image on her Walkman.
I’m looking great, apparently. No, really: everyone keeps telling me how good I look at the moment.
It’s lovely to hear it, and I suppose I probably do look a tad healthier than I did a year ago. And even better, I’ve managed to control my normally inbuilt sarcasm and have refrained from responding to the compliments with “so I look great now? As opposed to normally looking like shit?”
Although, that’s probably because a year ago I did look like shit. I certainly felt like it!
The “you look great” comment is generally always followed by “how did you do it?” I think everyone expects some sort of earth-shattering answer along the lines of me discovering some until-now-unheard-of herb or magic potion, so they always look a bit shocked when I offer up the whole “heart failure” response.
Anyway, it is lovely to be complimented but also a wee bit embarrassing. And I think the next time someone says I look great and asks how I did it, I’ll tell them I’ve started the new alcohol diet: it’s fuckin’ great … I’ve lost 3 days in the first week!
It’s been an interesting old time, with my dodgy heart actually behaving like a not-so-dodgy heart and now it’s looking more likely that I won’t need the heart surgery that had been hanging over my head since last month. I had another ECG and ultrasound done last weekend and the technician said everything looked pretty good so it will be interesting to see what my cardiologist has to say at my next appointment.
Strangely, now that I’m not working stupidly long hours I seem to constantly run out of time to blog, or do much writing in general. I’ve been hit by a bout of spring cleaning fever and have been clearing out wardrobes and cupboards, re-organising shelves, defrosting freezers and generally being a domestic goddess. Without the nice pinny or good manners. Hmm, more of a domestic biarch I guess.
Any-hoo, I reckon once I’m finished with all the spring cleaning madness I might just get a little more organised on the writing side of things.
Stay tuned, I might be back to torment you soon.
There’s one side effect of having a dicky ticker I didn’t anticipate: time.
You see, I used to work too many hours but when I got the diagnosis, I decided that I needed to take back control and stop working 60 or more hours a week. Now, I work a respectable 40 hours. Sometimes up to 45, but no more than that.
And because of that, I actually have time on my hands: I have time to sit down a watch some telly in the evenings, to go for walks, to read more and generally relax. And that whole relaxing thing is hard work! I’m not so good at just sitting and watching a movie, so this has been the perfect time to take up knitting again.
How’s that for living life on the edge?
Any-hoo, the photo above is of my latest project, a winter wrap. It’s getting a bit on the hard to handle side now because it’s so long but I should have it finished soon and in the meantime, Seymour the Wonder Cat has taken a liking to trying to hide under it while I knit. Which makes Norman the Other Cat a bit nervous, since she tends to sleep beside me when I’m knitting.
I was packing up our Christmas tree decorations a few weeks ago when Norman the cat discovered the Louis Vuitton box I was planning to use for the tinselly bits and bobs. She just couldn’t help herself and ended up sleeping in there for most of the night. Excuse the blurry second photo, the box was moving!
Perhaps there’s a market for Louis Vuitton: designer pet beds?
Oh, and what would Gareth Morgan make of all this?
The latest update on my dicky ticker.
Had a shockingly good result yesterday … my cardiologist is very happy with my progress. So happy, in fact, she wants to hold off for six months, do another ECG and then decide on the hardware because I might not need it.
OK, so my heart is still damaged, I still have cardiomyopathy and will be on these drugs for the rest of my life. But I might not need surgery because the bundle branch blockage has improved and my heart has reduced in size (from 5.7 inches across to 4.9, she tells me).
This was very much unexpected: the hope was that I would stabilise so I could have the surgery, but there was no suggestion that things would improve like this, so all-in-all we’re pretty bloody happy with the results.
It’s always good to learn something on a Monday, so if you’ve ever wondered about the inner workings of your locks … here’s the answer.
I’m perpetually perplexed by the fact that our front door has two locks and I have two corresponding keys on my keyring but while they both fit into the bottom lock, only one turns it. What is so strange about this is that the on the other two sets of keys for the house, the keys for the lock at the top of the door don’t fit the bottom lock.
Ah, the mysteries of Mondays.
Why? Well, we were at Farmers on the Saturday before Christmas and it was chaos. We were leaving the car park and expecting it to take forever because of the volume of traffic from Farmers, the Warehouse across the road and the lights and crossing between the two (when we arrived traffic was backed up for as far as the eye could see because the lights weren’t green long enough each time to clear the backlog of cars get across the crossing, so the cars trying the leave the two car parks on opposite sides of the road were also backed up. Oh joy!)
Anyway, we were leaving the car park with the expectation that we’d be waiting for a while, when a lovely driver in an Invercargill Taxis car stopped to let us out. So thank you cab 202, I hope you had a splendiferous Christmas.