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CONCERT REPORT: Montreux (July 8)

Posted: Thu Jul 10, 2008 2:19 pm
by abulafia
Hi!
Just coming back from the Montreux Jazz Festival. It was an incredible show, with uncountable standing ovations from the audience. I had a standing ticket and was early enough in the queue to stand directly behind the seats, having an excellent view on the stage.
One of the most magic moments of the concerts for me was "If it be your will", sung by the Webb sisters. During the song, on the screen (the video on the screens had a very good qualitiy, never have seen something like this before) one could see Leonard Cohen devotionally whispering the lyrics - I still get goose bumps when I think about it.
After "Closing Time" Leonard was jumping around on the stage like a little child, I think he still has a lot of energy...
I really loved the audience. Enthuastic and excited about the show, giving a lot of standing ovations, but quiet and respectfully listening during the songs - that's how I want to attend a Cohen concert.

What a night!

Leonard Cohen at Montreux this week - Dayan Jayatilleka

Posted: Thu Jul 10, 2008 8:53 pm
by ~greg
This was sent to my rarelive site,
from http://www.lankamission.org
or news@lankamission.org.
LEONARD COHEN: THE MAESTRO AT MONTREUX

- DAYAN JAYATILLEKA

The Master of the modern love song, whose intricate and intense musical cartography of the relationships between men and women provided the soundtrack of our private lives, has come down like Moses or Zarathustra from the mountain, gaunt, courtly, priestly, yet slightly noir-ish in broad-striped double breasted charcoal suit, tie-less, fedora perched rakishly on his silvering hair as if Bogart had somehow grown old gracefully.

Five encores I think there were, but it may have been one more, for this 74 year old, finishing the performance one hour later than planned, bowing to the audience, fedora doffed and held close to his heart, eyes softly shining.

The man is what he has always been, what he was from the beginning, before he sang. Leonard Cohen is a poet. He reminds us of this, reciting, not singing, one of his later songs in entirety - A Thousand Kisses Deep - which I remember from a movie scene with a weather-beaten Nick Nolte looking out of the hotel window at the casino he is about to rob, the cropped haired girl sleeping on the sofa curled up after her fix, lost.

Not so much poetry set to music as poetry set in music. In the beginning and the first decades his songs meditated on the metaphysics of man and woman in love and lust, the Woman as the Other (not “the other woman” as in callow country music), angst finely wrought into art, but never overwrought.

The angel of angst has aged. The voice remains smoky, deeper than before, but instantly recognizable like those of Dylan and Van Morrison. Cohen has done with his voice that which Clint Eastwood has with his face, transmuted aging into an instrument of art.

He has always had women collaborators, and one remembers Jennifer Warnes and Anjani (his “partner in life”), but no one has played as big a musical role as Sharon Robinson, who is on stage with him at Montreux, classically trained pianist and blues-tinged jazz singer who has scored many of his latest songs.

At Montreux, Leonard Cohen has modified the music of some of his songs, turning Bird on the Wire blue-tinged. Again a new, blues opening riff and next to me Sanja is already cheering, recognizing as I have not, the opening of “Hallelujah” which Cohen delivers in genuflection, eyes shut, then rising, upright, face upwards, eyes still unopened, giving voice to his Psalm.

Suzanne he sings straight, the old introductory chords from his guitar, eyes open, looking into the crowd, changing a line: “And you know that she will find you…” Each one of us remembers when we first heard of Suzanne, a different kind of girl.

It wasn’t the first time I had heard Leonard Cohen. That was at the Liberty cinema in Colombo, as Warren Beatty walked through the mist across a rickety foot bridge, reins in hand, his horse behind him, the camera catching the crystalline dew drops, in Robert Altman’s McCabe and Mrs. Miller, a completely distinct, unique voice coming over slow and deep with the opening bars of Stranger Song. I committed the credit to memory - Leonard Cohen – and went in search of his music. For not quite four decades he has inhabited my inner landscape and finally I have caught up with him. At Montreux he does not sing the signature Stranger Song (his 2003 volume of selected poems and songs is called Stranger Music) but does Sisters of Mercy. In the cinema of my mind I see the silhouette of women on burros against the hilly skyline at sunset in Altman’s movie as the song was sung the first time I heard it.

The soundtrack of the Altman film is from his debut album The Songs of Leonard Cohen and at Montreux he follows up Sisters of Mercy with So Long Marianne and Hey, That’s No Way to Say Goodbye, from it. The evening’s songs are selected from all the albums but most seem to be from the last three. First We Take Manhattan, Ain’t No Cure for Love, Everybody Knows, I’m your Man, Take This Waltz, Tower of Song ( all from I’m Your Man); The Future, Closing Time, Anthem, and Democracy (from The Future); In My Secret Life, A Thousand Kisses Deep and Boogie Street (from the latest: Ten New Songs).

Cohen’s homeland is the human heart and he lives in its labyrinth. Nietzsche’s master-slave syndrome, applied by Sartre to the foundational dialectic relationship, man/woman, is poeticized and set to elegiac music by him, studded and strewn with Biblical metaphor and allusion. But Leonard Cohen is not only the sketch artist of naked emotions and plumber of inner space. He occasionally walks into a different dimension, reflecting ironically on late modernity and post modernity, as in First We Take Manhattan, Democracy Is Coming to the USA and The Future.

This is his only concert in Switzerland. He tells us when he last played in this hall he was “sixty years old, just a kid with a crazy dream”. Now, fourteen years on, at the 42nd Montreux Jazz Festival, where is he at? On our way into the Stravinsky auditorium Sanja had shown me the verse from his Anthem on a T shirt:

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in



He has assembled a sensitive, gifted back up band, Javier Mas on Spanish guitar (with whom Cohen often communes on one knee), Dino Solo on the sax and wind instruments, Neil Larsen on keyboards, Rafael Gayol on percussion, Roscoe Beck on bass, Bob Metzger on guitar, and Cohen’s chorus of angels - Sharon Robinson, and The Webb Sisters. He indicates a time that he could not write, and sings the first verse of the prayer that he composed at and for those moments, If It Be Your Will (from the album Various Position, as is Hallelujah).

If it be your will
that I speak no more,
and my voice be still
as it was before;
I will speak no more,
I shall abide until
I am spoken for,
if it be your will.


He leaves off after this opening verse, inviting the Webb Sisters to sing the rest and you understand, as Hattie plays the harp, why he repeatedly calls them “the sublime Webb Sisters”. A classical sketch of a woman, one breast outlined, playing a harp, is on the back cover of the souvenir as the motif of the 2008 world tour.

The mystique of the reclusive, emotionally masochistic bard in black – Field Commander Cohen, the title of a 1979 album - has lightened, thinned to the more accessible human essentials of a man in communion with others, offering his gift of song not to an elusive, fickle muse but to a deity of song or perhaps to humanity; to all of us. This is a man enlightened, made lighter and lit up from inside, by the way he has aged, his explorations into “the religions and philosophies” as he put it last night. As he has grown older, his voice huskier, his music is about letting go, standing back, bidding a long goodbye.


**************************

Dayan Jayatilleka, PhD, is Sri Lanka’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva.

Re: Montreux (8th july)

Posted: Thu Jul 10, 2008 9:40 pm
by Cate
Not so much poetry set to music as poetry set in music
I like how he phrased that.
I don't know if you saw this, Casey had it posted in a different section, but the very first box is two poems from the Spice box set in music.
The date list is 1958 - I don't know if they got the date wrong or if the audience was getting a preview.

http://archives.cbc.ca/arts_entertainme ... topics/93/

Re: Montreux (8th july)

Posted: Thu Jul 10, 2008 10:28 pm
by antonio3
Paul Simon was also there. After the first number during his concert on July the 9th (also in the Stravinsky Hall) he asked the audience if anybody was there the night before (Leonard’s evening). I don’t remember the exact words, but he expressed his appreciation for Cohen’s concert in front of its own audience…
Here’s a link to the website of the French Swiss TV where you can find an interview with Sharon Robinson (you can find it under the “Les artistes vous repondent” menu), and where she sings a cappella a stanza of “Boogie Street”:
http://www.tsr.ch/tsr/index.html?siteSe ... =festivals
The questions (written in French on the screen):
- What is your contribution to Leonard Cohen’s work?
- Is it appropriate to think of this collaboration as a sort of “love story”?
- Where do you find inspiration?
- When where you first exposed to music?
Seems to me the interview was shot inside the Swiss Majestic Hotel in Montreux (or maybe the Palace Hotel, not sure about that...)

Re: Montreux (8th july)

Posted: Sun Jul 13, 2008 9:29 pm
by reubensmum
Hi abulafia!
W've just returned from Switzerland, and yes "what a night" indeed.
We were so lucky to be sitting six rows back from the stage - I've never seen anything more wonderful in my life.
Leonard was so gracious in the way that he repeatedly acknowledged his fantastic musicians, giving them each an opportunity to showcase their talents.
And what talents they had!
Sharon Robinson's wonderful sulltry voice is amazing.
The Webb sisters were absolutely angelic.
We came out of the Stravinsky auditorium that night feeling like we had just had some kind of spiritual experience.
Magical!
abulafia wrote:Hi!
Just coming back from the Montreux Jazz Festival. It was an incredible show, with uncountable standing ovations from the audience. I had a standing ticket and was early enough in the queue to stand directly behind the seats, having an excellent view on the stage.
One of the most magic moments of the concerts for me was "If it be your will", sung by the Webb sisters. During the song, on the screen (the video on the screens had a very good qualitiy, never have seen something like this before) one could see Leonard Cohen devotionally whispering the lyrics - I still get goose bumps when I think about it.
After "Closing Time" Leonard was jumping around on the stage like a little child, I think he still has a lot of energy...
I really loved the audience. Enthuastic and excited about the show, giving a lot of standing ovations, but quiet and respectfully listening during the songs - that's how I want to attend a Cohen concert.

What a night!

Re: Montreux (8th july)

Posted: Mon Jul 14, 2008 10:36 pm
by Anth
Ok, some time have passed after the show and I can say without any hype: IT WAS AMAZING. First of all - sound of never heard quality. Oh my God, what a sound it was! Crystal clear, subtle and wonderful. I fell in love with Webb Sisters - especially during "I Tried To Leave you" :oops: I was also very pleased that both "Bird on the Wire" and "Hallelujah" contained more album verses, that Leonard was so deep in his songs but never forgot about the audience and his band. I hope that during the tour he will come at least to Central Europe, than I'll be able to see HIM again! It it be His will.

Re: Montreux (8th july)

Posted: Sun Jul 20, 2008 8:40 pm
by alexpradervand
Hello,

Here's a link to my website with pictures of the Montreux concert.

http://www.alexpradervand.com/cohen/

Enjoy.

Alex

Re: Montreux (8th july)

Posted: Mon Nov 03, 2008 2:10 pm
by Sasha K
When he sang " I`m Your Man ", Leonard improvised a little, singing

"And if you want another kind of love
I`ll wear this old mask for you"

Thanks, Leonard. Trust you to see through the outward appearance to what lies within. The show was inspiring...well worth the trip from Japan !

Re: Montreux (July 8)

Posted: Mon Dec 01, 2008 1:12 pm
by alexpradervand
Hi Sasha

Do you have a recording of this concert or just an excellent memory ?

;-)

Alex

Montreux ( July 8 )

Posted: Sat Dec 20, 2008 3:03 pm
by Sasha K
I was in Morocco when Leonard first started touring, and my first chance to hear him live was in Montreux this year.

Summer flights sell out fast in Japan ( where I currently live ), so before the tour schedule was even announced, I had booked my flight and hotel, sure that Leonard would be performing in Montreux.

It turned out to be impossible to book tickets from Japan, due to the long addresses there. A big disappointment, but I had peace about going anyway, and trying my luck at the theater.
Once at the Stravinski, I decided to hang around the artists` entrance, hoping for a glimpse of Leonard ( although I knew perfectly well that this was not the way to meet him )!
And then the miracle happened : a " chance" meeting, and I found myself with a ticket, even though the show had been officially " sold out" for months !

I had wanted a place in the standing area, as it is much closer to the stage than the balcony; but this, I was told, was not an option.

But the high I felt, waiting for the concert on the patio, with my precious ticket, was one of the best experiences of my life.The warmth of the sun, the beauty of mountains and lake, and the sense of being cocooned from the crowds by a heightened stillness that I can only liken to the shock of sudden bereavement - but on the joyful end of the scale.And yet, at a very deep level, it had come as no surprise.

My joy turned to rage when I realized that from my seat in the balcony the musicians were a distant blur. I am probably spoiled by the fact that I am an arts photographer, accustomed to the front row, and to being flirted with from the stage. Probably my expectations were unrealistic.

It might interest readers to know that balcony seats at the Stravinski cost just as much as seats right in front of the stage...and that the standing area is a better option if you want to see clearly. Even those who had managed to get front-row seats found their view blocked, sometimes for an entire song, by official cameramen wielding massive equipment. There were 3 or 4 of them filming live, often right in front of the stage !
I have heard that this is standard practice at the Stravinski.

The sound, however, was sublime.I found it hard to focus on the music at first, being so disappointed at being unable to see Leonard clearly, and felt ready to kill the woman in my row who was talking during the songs.

By the second set I was calmer, drawn in by the power of Leonard`s personality, which was palpable even on the monitors ( and I have to say those cameramen did an outstanding job ). At least I was there, able to share the air that he breathed, and to bless the one who had come so far to bless his audience. I applauded as hard as I could.

For those who want to attend concerts at the Stravinski in future, it may be helpful to know that, even when advertised as " sold out", there are still seats available to those who get there early in the morning and wait in line.These tickets are usually in the standing area. You then have to wait at a barrier ( and it pays to get there very early and bring a book).
After waiting at the barrier, you have to race other audience members up three flights of stairs to get to the door of the " standing" area.Old people may find it easier to go with a younger friend who can run up and then save you a place. This was done both at the door and in the actual standing area of the Stravinski, and the staff were aware of it but did nothing about it, even when young people were let in. A little unfair on those who had arrived earlier/run faster, but better for the seniors.

Frome the front rows of the standing area ( which is huge ) you can get a very clear view of performers on the stage - far better than that from expensive seats in the balcony ! ( A kind of workers` justice which Leonard would probobly enjoy) !From the standing area I had a clear view of another performer , a few days after Leonard`s concert.

Leonard`s concert, as members have said, was magical. Gems, for me, included the sheer power and intensity of "Hallelujah"; the spiritual sureness and authority of Sharon`s voice, which more than filled the hall in "Boogie Street"; the tender, moving "I Tried To Leave You"; and the jaw-dropping love in the final benediction, which left me in a state of awe.

Those musicians touring with Leonard don`t know how lucky they are. Their lives will never be the same. I would follow this tour around the world if I could.

A happy postscript: Through the kindness of G-d and the help of a friend in NZ, who booked the tickets, I have GOOD seats to the concerts in Wellington and Auckland...can`t wait !!!


"Though I take my song from a withered limb
Both song and tree, they sing for him"

"G-d is alive. Magic is afoot".

Re: Montreux (July 8)

Posted: Mon Mar 09, 2009 4:45 pm
by Sasha K
Alexpradervand, thanks for your comment. We couldn`t record as no cameras were allowed, there was a metal detector and they searched bags at the entrance.

I guess the line about " this old mask" was what I needed to hear...so it went right in.

The whole event etched itself on my memory...I am so glad I spent money so recklessly on this tour; as a result this past year has been one of the happiest of my life.

Re: Montreux (July 8)

Posted: Thu Mar 12, 2009 1:52 pm
by alexpradervand
I agree with everything you said. I was in the standing area's front row and i could see much better than most of the people seated in front of me. The only good thing about the seating area is that you have a seat, no need to run or to stay in place the whole show.

BTW, I have never seen a metal detector in Montreux !

Alex

Re: CONCERT REPORT: Montreux (July 8)

Posted: Sun Dec 06, 2009 6:40 am
by sturgess66
Video uploaded to YouTube today from this show by "robbie51b" -

The Gypsy's Wife
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gxbXq9KYBMI

Editing - and because I didn't see any other video posted in this thread from this show, I went looking on YouTube. :lol:

Uploaded by "IcyDarkChose" -

Hey, That's No Way To Say Goodbye
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fwKSo9aqI-g