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CONCERT REPORT: Winnipeg, April 30

Posted: Fri May 01, 2009 5:24 pm
by winnipeg.ian
I have gone to four shows since Leonard Cohen returned to touring last year; the second night in Toronto, the first night in Montreal, Calgary, and now my home town of Winnipeg. Each show has been special in its own way but last nights performance at the MTS Centre had a few firsts.
-The first time and audience (at a show I've attended) stood and clapped along all the way through Closing Time. At every other show people would stop clapping and sit down after a few bars. This made the whole song that much more energetic, which Leonard and the band seemed to really feed off, dancing around more than usual and really putting everything they had into making the song a joyous event. I was still singing along on the way home.
-The first time of any of the shows I attended where Leonard seemed unable to contain smiles of genuine happiness and surprise at the overwhelming love being poured out. This is not to say that he has not had this reaction before, but I watched his face intently at all four shows, and I honestly think he was smiling more in Winnipeg than anywhere else. Maybe it had something to do with the crowd of around 6000 doing their best to sound like 20000 or how there would be universal reactions to certain lines (not just applause to the "born with a gift of a golden voice" line from Tower of Song, but laughter to "but for me you'd make an exception" from Chelsea Hotel no. 2 or the palpable sense of spiritual uplift during hallelujah that seemed to have the entire room floating 10 feet above their bodies) or it could even have been that the crowd would erupt into applause at the recognition of each song and after each stunning solo. Whatever it was, Cohen seemed to be in especially high spirits and, both he and the band, seemed to be loving every minute of it.
-The first time that I've seen him stumble through a few lines of a song. He seemed to have a momentary lapse during a stanza of The Future, but the band's tightness masked it and he recovered a few bars later.
-The first time I've seen a standing ovation after So Long Marianne.

The set list was the same as in Calgary, minus Sisters of Mercy but the audience genuinely was having the experience of their lives. I can't tell you how many people I overheard saying it was "the best experience they've ever had" or "this was so much better than Bob Dylan" or "he was amazing" etc. This reaction has been consistent everywhere I've been now.

I don't generally get choked up, but there was a moment during If it be Your Will, right before the Webb sisters took over, where I looked up at the monitor, saw Leonard's aging face, realized that this is probably the last chance I will ever have to see him and almost lost it. Going to so many shows simply had prolonged this emotional reaction. I am so grateful that I've been able to have these experiences, whether it was riding a Greyhound 30 hours to Toronto to see him for the first time last year, seeing the triumphant homecoming show in Montreal that seemed to never end, being in an almost church like theatre in Calgary, to the amazing crowd in Winnipeg. I hope in some small way that I've been able to repay Leonard for everything he has brought into my life. If seeing so many shows prevented someone else from being able to, I am sorry, but I had such a large debt to repay the man that I knew of no other way.

If anyone is interested, I could go in to more detail about the differences I noticed between the four shows I saw, but this post is about Winnipeg.

Re: CONCERT REPORT: Winnipeg April 30

Posted: Fri May 01, 2009 5:56 pm
by bridger15
From: Winnipeg Free Press May 1
http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/breaki ... 26757.html

REVIEW: Cohen unbound to passage of time
By: Melissa Martin

IF you can take the measure of a man through other people's haircuts, then take note of what was clearly visible on Portage Avenue on Thursday night.

From across the city, fans funnelled into the MTS Centre. Their heads bore silver curls and bottle-black hipster shags, shiny bald pates and at least one pink mohawk. They were young, old, and somewhere in the middle. They were decked in designer silk scarves, Payless pumps and battered Birkenstocks. Come to think of it, the only thing they had in common was Leonard Cohen.

There is no better testament to Cohen's legend than the diversity of his fans. (Well, that and their willingness to shell out up to $250 a pop to see him play.) The eccentric poet-songwriter has chiselled out a catalogue both timeless and relentlessly contemporary; unlike peers that have since passed into the realm of kitsch, Leonard Cohen never goes out of style.

Perhaps it's because he hardly seems bound to the passage of time. Cohen has made his own aging a focal point of his recent creative life; but though his face shows the wear of a 40-year career, his spry body and singularly penetrating baritone seem only dented.

Let's face it: at 74, he's still sexy. At least, the audience clearly thought so. "I need to see you naked in your body and your thought," Cohen growled on early-set offering Ain't No Cure for Love, and a smatter of suggestive cheers rose from the stands.

Not that it was the night's only thrill. Cohen's nine-piece band (which was sublime) slipped out shortly after 8 p.m., onto a stage adorned only by gossamer curtains and Oriental rugs. The songwriter followed moments later, skipping out in a slim black suit. A fedora shrouded his eyes.

For the next hour, Cohen and his band said nothing, but played much. They started with Dance Me to the End of Love, continued through The Future and Bird on a Wire, and settled on Everybody Knows, Cohen's ominous 1988 classic.

Cohen's most outstanding offering of the first hour, though, was 1991 ballad In My Secret Life, which was eerie and quiveringly tender. Of special note were Cohen's three superb backing vocalists, which included longtime collaborator Sharon Robinson and sisters Charlie and Hattie Webb; their lovely harmonies ebbed and flowed, but were wonderfully tasteful throughout.

An hour into the set, Cohen finally spoke.

"I thank you for your hospitality," he intoned, then pulled out the line he's cracked at every show on the tour thus far. "The last time I played here was 14 or 15 years ago... I was 60. Just a crazy kid with a dream."

The second half was as exhaustive as the first. It began as a slow, sombre affair, with Cohen standing almost solo for the austere Suzanne, which folded into the rich intonations and lush instrumentation of The Gypsy's Wife. At press time, Cohen was crooning through the famous refrain of Hallelujah.

Re: CONCERT REPORT: Winnipeg April 30

Posted: Fri May 01, 2009 6:56 pm
by bridger15
winnipeg.ian wrote: If anyone is interested, I could go in to more detail about the differences I noticed between the four shows I saw, but this post is about Winnipeg.
I enjoyed your excellent review very much. It brought tears to my eyes. I, for one, would like to hear more of your comparisons. I think you should ask Jarkko to set up a concert comparison thread. After following the tour reports one way or another from the beginning, I was so surprised at how subdued the audience was in San DIego. A little more enthusiastic in Los Angeles, but not by much. I will stop now. As you said, this thread is about Winnipeg.

Re: CONCERT REPORT: Winnipeg April 30

Posted: Fri May 01, 2009 7:08 pm
by LitGal
I enjoyed reading your account of last night's performance in Winnipeg. I was in attendance and I agree with everything you said about the energy and the vibrant and palpable love and appreciation that the audience demonstrated for Leonard Cohen. I attended one of his Montreal concerts and it was obvious to me that last night's show was something extra special.

I was brought to tears of gratitude and sheer joy for this man several times throughout the concert. What a gift he is to all of us. Thank you, Leonard.

Re: CONCERT REPORT: Winnipeg April 30

Posted: Fri May 01, 2009 8:58 pm
by Mondomando
Thanks for your brilliant review. Your observations and writing really resonated with my experience.
I would love to hear more of your comparisons.

I am still besides myself. I feel like something was deposited in me, that I was danced to the ends of a wonderful rich and generous love.I work as a therapeutic clown artist at a Children's Hospital and I feel like Leonard's show was like a therapeutic communal experience for 6,000+

Thank you, thank you Leonard Cohen and all that work with you to perform the miracle you are doing each evening on "just this side of intimacy".

I posted mine in the Setlist thread. I'll repost my thoughts here in this thread then:

*******************************
Just got in from the Winnipeg concert. Absolutely brilliant.

I am ruined for life – I dare anyone to try to top that show. As an aspiring performing songwriter – this was paradise!!

We got basically the same sets as Calgary except no Sister of Mercy (sadly as it is a personal fave) and the four encores kinda morphed into three. However, if I didn’t have the Calgary set list with me I would have had no idea about missing SoM, as the show was so satisfying.

What a body of work Leonard has. Those images, storylines, melodies – what a craftsman! And what a presence! What a gracious and talented man.

My only problem was with the yahoos (and I did my share of yahooing and cheering) who insisted on yelling out after Whither Thou Goest while Leonard thanked the staff and crew (by name!!) and shared some final wisdom – which was kinda lost amongst the yelling. Anyway a fantastic show – by an artist at the top of his game with the finest band I ever recall seeing.

Run; don’t walk to the next Leonard Cohen concert in your neighbourhood!!

A very happy Daevid signing out and looking for something to do until he can settle down and relax

Mondomando

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Re: CONCERT REPORT: Winnipeg April 30

Posted: Fri May 01, 2009 9:31 pm
by bigcanadiano
I was in row 19 seat 16, yes - that was me. Cohen felt comfortable, he was confident, as result, danced in unison with the music as he sang on spot. He then, at will, would gallop on stage as only a 74 year old adult male could (not a word of a lie) Cohen ran around the stage on not one, not 2, but a handfull of occassions waiting for someone to try and stop him. However, nobody would stop him, not on this night. The man owned the show in Winnipeg, and said so himself, with a heart felt description of his personal experience, adding, "Thank you for this memorable evening in Winnipeg." Cohen also mentioned how he is sorry to leave Western Canada for the 'south', another curious revelation, that Cohen went into in Winnipeg.

We caught him on his game last night.

Top marks my friend.

Re: CONCERT REPORT: Winnipeg April 30

Posted: Sat May 02, 2009 3:07 am
by Dream Warrior
Thrilled to see my home town received and presented so well. Wish I had been able to be there with you in the hub of the nation, the heart of the continent.

Re: CONCERT REPORT: Winnipeg April 30

Posted: Sat May 02, 2009 6:07 am
by MaryB
From the reviews here, it sounds like we missed out on one of the best concerts of this tour!

Re: CONCERT REPORT: Winnipeg April 30

Posted: Sat May 02, 2009 8:50 am
by Johninwinnipeg
Ian, thanks for your great review, to which I might add a couple of things, if I may.

Apart from Leonard, the musicianship was...is there a word? Does "wonderful" do it justice? It was a joy to watch and hear the keyboard/wind/percussion fellow moving to every beat of every song; the Spanish acoustic guitarist/mandolin player, the pianist, the electric guitarist -- not to mention the other-worldly back-up singers -- all come together beneath the fabulous lighting and the Alexandrian gauze (it was like listening to, hearing, Lawrence Durrell's Alexandrian Quartet, Justine in particular -- a book any Cohen fan would adore). The music was ... there is no word, really to describe last night's show. One simply had to be there.

This was the first time I'd seen him in concert, but I saw him on Austin City Limits years ago where he played Tower of Song on his little electric piano, which was without question the best thing I have ever seen on that show -- and that's saying something! To my amazement and intense joy, he did it the same way last night: him and his toy piano ("I'm going to fire this baby up now," he said, ominously, before launching into the song.) He knew it was good then and he knows it's still good.

He did more than give us a great show -- an amazing show. Everyone there would have to agree -- he gave us a bit of himself: a (positive) flake of his life.

Re: CONCERT REPORT: Winnipeg April 30

Posted: Sat May 02, 2009 9:29 am
by bigcanadiano
re; Austin City Limits

I too saw Cohen on Austin City Limits (not to steal j'inwpg's thunder here. . .) but I immediately recalled the keyboard, which timeless as it was, rienforced the evening on a whole. The crowd ate it up, from which Cohen pulls together, smooth said, "You're too kind." Stroking every key he was touching, with a vivid eye.

The other hilites included, (1) Cohen looking in the direction of the female vocalists, asking to be serenaded, "Don't stop, you look so beautiful." Of course, the crowd responded in a roar, the vocalists were - beautiful. Cohen, " Thank you. - I am healed."

(2) Into the second half of the concert, almost unconsciously, the entire band were undoubtedly compteting for the crowds affection. This was accentuated particuarly between the younger, wind instrumental musician - playing his solos with an air of tasteful unbound arrogance, and the drummer who literally made the audience clap their hands in the air with a daring gesture to the crowd. I couldn't make this up folks.

(3) As Cohen began his rendition of If It Be Your Will, you could see this expression of an ommission on his face, the close-up drawn on the big screens high above the stage, showed Cohen, as vulnerable as a picture of his face (you can imagine) actually revealed a heart-aching nerve, a quiver of his thought read off the lips, and you could swear he was asking for something more of himself, as if, the moment gave him a glimpse of a present wandering state, apologetic in that posture yet his presence filled in this very breifly for me to capture it. I don't know if anyone else sparked their attention to it, but, I ain't lying - I was there. I can relate to that feeling Cohen had, and am only happy to share what I witnessed with you here. (His rendition of 1000 kisses deep could not be equalled either.)

You can tell Cohen was waiting for a miracle to come, and for no reason, Winnipeg helped that cause, it was not the cause.

Cohen was not so much magical (which is an understatement considering how legendary he is) but more - a legend having fun. Now, that - that I will never forget.

Re: CONCERT REPORT: Winnipeg April 30

Posted: Sat May 02, 2009 10:01 pm
by MaryB
LitGal wrote:I was in attendance and I agree with everything you said about the energy and the vibrant and palpable love and appreciation that the audience demonstrated for Leonard Cohen. I attended one of his Montreal concerts and it was obvious to me that last night's show was something extra special.
winnipeg.ian wrote:The first time an audience (at a show I've attended) stood and clapped along all the way through Closing Time. At every other show people would stop clapping and sit down after a few bars. This made the whole song that much more energetic, which Leonard and the band seemed to really feed off, dancing around more than usual and really putting everything they had into making the song a joyous event. -The first time of any of the shows I attended where Leonard seemed unable to contain smiles of genuine happiness and surprise at the overwhelming love being poured out. I honestly think he was smiling more in Winnipeg than anywhere else. Maybe it had something to do with the crowd of around 6000 doing their best to sound like 20000. Whatever it was, Cohen seemed to be in especially high spirits and, both he and the band, seemed to be loving every minute of it.
Mondomando wrote:Thanks for your brilliant review. Your observations and writing really resonated with my experience.I am ruined for life – I dare anyone to try to top that show. As an aspiring performing songwriter – this was paradise!! (I did my share of yahooing and cheering)
bigcanadiano wrote:The man owned the show in Winnipeg, and said so himself, with a heart felt description of his personal experience, adding, "Thank you for this memorable evening in Winnipeg." We caught him on his game last night.
Johninwinnipeg wrote: The music was ... there is no word, really to describe last night's show. One simply had to be there.
He did more than give us a great show -- an amazing show. Everyone there would have to agree -- he gave us a bit of himself
bigcanadiano wrote: The crowd ate it up,the crowd responded in a roar,Into the second half of the concert, almost unconsciously, the entire band were undoubtedly competeting for the crowds' affection. This was accentuated particuarly between the younger, wind instrumental musician - playing his solos with an air of tasteful unbound arrogance, and the drummer who literally made the audience clap their hands in the air with a daring gesture to the crowd. I couldn't make this up folks. You can tell Cohen was waiting for a miracle to come, and for no reason, Winnipeg helped that cause, it was not the cause.

Cohen was not so much magical (which is an understatement considering how legendary he is) but more - a legend having fun. Now, that - that I will never forget.
There seems to be an underlying thread running through all these reviews - the more fervent the audience response, the more (if at all possible) LC and his musicians give back - good for you Winnipeg!

Best regard,
Mary

Re: CONCERT REPORT: Winnipeg April 30

Posted: Sun May 03, 2009 12:45 pm
by jarkko
my name is eugene osudar
and here is a little something
i wrote after seeing L Cohen
thursday night
april 30, 2009


http://www.guttersnipenews.com/2009/05/02/leonard-cohen

Re: CONCERT REPORT: Winnipeg April 30

Posted: Sun May 03, 2009 8:08 pm
by st theresa
Wow thanks for posting that Jarkko
What a beautiful tribute --Since Winnipeg was where I lived when I first learned of Leonard Cohen, I had to follow the thread here and see if any other Winnipeg fans felt as I do--and some do --that is for sure....

Re: CONCERT REPORT: Winnipeg April 30

Posted: Sun May 03, 2009 8:38 pm
by Judy
Jarkko that really is the most beautiful tribute poem I have ever read.

Please go and read it, everyone.

Re: CONCERT REPORT: Winnipeg April 30

Posted: Wed May 06, 2009 4:57 pm
by Mondomando
Anyone see a recording of the Winnipeg show floating around anywhere?

I see there is one for the Mini-Apple but haven't found Winnipeg (which I did attend),

Daevid