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CONCERT REPORTS: Austin, April 1 and 2

Posted: Thu Apr 02, 2009 4:54 pm
by Fontana
Review: Leonard Cohen, night 1 at the Long Center

By Brad Buchholz | Thursday, April 2, 2009, 02:12 AM

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Leonard Cohen at the Long Center

Leonard Cohen treated us to a night of blue elegance Wednesday night at the Long Center (he plays a second show Thursday night). More than any song, any moment, I’ll savor the evening for its spirit, for its languid, stylish, melancholy tone. That, and the sheer majesty of the Cohen musical canon, laid out over the course of a three-hour concert that featured four encores.

Cohen’s concert wasn’t so much a presentation of songs as a riveting poetry reading with a klezmer-caberet vibe, a little bluesy, a little jazzy and, above all, literate. For decades, his touring bands have taken pride in being “the quietest band in America.” We hear the words. Cohen’s drummer, Austin’s Rafael Gayol, likes to say it can get so quiet you can almost hear dust collide.

Yes.

Cohen, 74, is thinner, grayer, than that “60-year-old kid with a crazy dream” that passed through Austin on the 1988 and 1993 concert tours. But his ocean-deep bass voice - and his will - are strong. There were moments, in the muscular encore tunes “First We Take Manhattan” and “So Long, Marianne” when Cohen sang powerfully over the top of his angelic, swaying troupe of background singers, led by Sharon Robinson. If you shut your eyes: The voice and the energy suggested a singer whose heart was completely in the present, not the past.

There were great moments: “Bird on a Wire” was so delicate, so rich with quiet space and stately grace, timeless as moonlight. “Anthem,” the closer of the first set, was transcendent, orchestral, presented in celestial light. When Cohen sang “Can’t run no more with the lawless crowd/while the killers in high places say their prayers out loud,” it was not with resignation, but with grit and purpose.

Well, let’s see: Charley and Hattie Webb, his two new background singers, coyly removed their jackets - and then spun cartwheels when Cohen sang the line “You’ll see your women hanging upside down” (or was it “the blizzard of the world has overturned your soul”?) during “The Future.” “Hallelujah” drew a standing ovation in the second set.

Cohen’s spoken word rendition of “Recitation with N.L.”, poetry set to quavering synthesized keyboards, was a dramatic highpoint in the second set. There was a huge communal sigh in the house - more striking than any applause - when Cohen ended the first stanza with these words: “my mirrored twin, my next of kin, I’d know you in my sleep/. And who but you would take me in, a thousand kisses deep.”

A last word about the staging, the music, and the role of Cohen’s musical director - bassist Roscoe Beck. After working with Cohen for three decades, Beck has skillfully melded his own sophisticated instincts with Cohen’s lyrical power. Beck likes the blues, and he likes jazz. Both energies were palpable Wednesday. The band’s use of Hammond B-3 organ plays to both the sensual and sacred currents in Cohen’s music.

Beck knows this in his head. We felt it in our hearts. It was a soft, lyrical, lovely night.

Photo Gallery: http://www.austin360.com/music/mediahub ... tId=151218

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Re: CONCERT REPORTS: Austin, April 1 & 2

Posted: Thu Apr 02, 2009 5:48 pm
by joyezekiel
What a wonderful review! Thank you so much...... we're going tonight and I can't wait :lol:

Re: CONCERT REPORTS: Austin, April 1 & 2

Posted: Thu Apr 02, 2009 6:36 pm
by amy1522
Thank you so much for this lovely, well written review. I'm getting ready to drive to Austin for tonight's concert, and you've given me even more reason (if that's possible) to feel excited.

Re: CONCERT REPORTS: Austin, April 1 & 2

Posted: Thu Apr 02, 2009 6:37 pm
by lizzytysh
Beautiful review, Fontana. It captures so many of the concert's essential elements. Well done 8) . Takes me back to both Montreal and New York.



~ Lizzy

Re: CONCERT REPORTS: Austin, April 1 & 2

Posted: Thu Apr 02, 2009 8:18 pm
by Maarten
Hi,
Could someone please post the setlists for both concerts in the thread above?
Thanks!

Maarten

Re: CONCERT REPORTS: Austin, April 1 & 2

Posted: Thu Apr 02, 2009 8:33 pm
by findingtime
Maarten -- I'm working on it. I was going to send you a private email.

The set list was ALMOST identical to the Beacon show.

Sisters of Mercy was omitted but it was still a longer set than the Beacon. Two new songs were added in the encores. I believe both are unreleased. Both were unknown to my girlfriend, the LC maven.

One was mentioned in a Rolling Stone interview which has been posted in the forum -- the main refrain is "my lullaby."

I have been unable to find anything about the second song online. The opening line was "I can't break the code of our frozen love."

I'm sure somebody in the forum knows the two mystery songs.

I'm at work, I'm busy, so I haven't had time to do any additional research since last night and I haven't composed a concert review. Also, I left the notes I made on the Beacon setlist at home. For now, let me just say it was a fabulous start to the North American tour.

Re: CONCERT REPORTS: Austin, April 1 & 2

Posted: Thu Apr 02, 2009 8:36 pm
by Maarten
Findingtime,
Thanks for the info! Nice to see some new stuff finally, although I wouldn't complain if he sang the "usual suspects"... Just post the setlist(s) if you find some time, no need to rush!

Maarten

Re: CONCERT REPORTS: Austin, April 1 & 2

Posted: Thu Apr 02, 2009 9:45 pm
by MarieM
Wow, new material! Can a new album be far behind?

Would love to hear more information if someone has it. I'm sure it came as such a surprise folks were caught off guard.

Re: CONCERT REPORTS: Austin, April 1 & 2

Posted: Thu Apr 02, 2009 11:07 pm
by MarieM
Our wish is their command. I got this set list for Austin, April 1, from Joey, road manager. Thanks much. Only one new song, "Lullaby."

First Set

Dance Me to the End of Love
The Future
Ain't No Cure for Love
Bird on the Wire
Everybody Knows
In My Secret Life
Who By Fire
Chelsea Hotel
Hey That’s No Way to Say Goodbye
Anthem

Second Set

Tower of Song
Suzanne
The Gypsy’s Wife
The Partisan
Boogie Street
Hallelujah
I’m Your Man
A Thousand Kisses Deep (recitation)
Take This Waltz

Encores

So Long Marianne
First We Take Manhattan
Famous Blue Raincoat
If It Be Your Will
Democracy
Lullaby
Closing Time
I Tried to Leave You
Whither Thou Goest

Re: CONCERT REPORTS: Austin, April 1 & 2

Posted: Thu Apr 02, 2009 11:14 pm
by Mabeanie1
A new song ... AND Closing Time. Yes!!

W

Re: CONCERT REPORTS: Austin, April 1 & 2

Posted: Fri Apr 03, 2009 12:34 am
by findingtime
Well, I'm glad that's straightened out. I guess the "two new songs" we thought we heard were different parts of the same new song. I was having trouble deciphering my notes last night and I guess that's why.

Re: CONCERT REPORTS: Austin, April 1 & 2

Posted: Fri Apr 03, 2009 4:34 am
by ladydi
Lullaby...and Closing Time...

I will be a contented woman in Phoenix 8) :D

Thanks Joey and Marie!

All the best,
Diana

ps..Joey, if you read this, tell Javier to watch out for a couple of women front row in Phoenix...especially one with a monkey :D

Re: CONCERT REPORTS: Austin, April 1 & 2

Posted: Fri Apr 03, 2009 9:36 am
by jb1976
I didn't take notes but the set list from the first day looks about right for the second day. I am pretty sure they were identical.

Re: CONCERT REPORTS: Austin, April 1 & 2

Posted: Fri Apr 03, 2009 8:15 pm
by evilcharles
Agreed, I think just about literally everything was identical for the 4/1 and 4/2 shows.
Those were two very magical concerts. Everyone I went with was completely blown away by this frail-looking man with such grace and beauty skipping on and off stage, getting down on his knees numerous times during the performance and just making us get lost in the moment with him.
I had a friend who hadn't ever heard LC before but based on a bunch of his Tom Waits friends freaking out about getting to see Cohen he went. I gave him one of my 2nd row tickets and that was his first introduction to LC... 2nd row at the Long Center for opening night. He was blown away. After the show he said he'd be purchasing Leonard's entire catalogue the next day.
I just thought that would have been a killer introduction to one of the great artists of our time.

Re: CONCERT REPORTS: Austin, April 1 & 2

Posted: Fri Apr 03, 2009 8:27 pm
by lizzytysh
Thanks for sharing that serendipitous experience your friend was so fortunate to have, not-so-evilcharles.


~ Lizzy