CONCERT REPORT: Tel Aviv, September 24

Europe and Israel (July 1 - September 24, 2009). Concert reports, set lists, photos, media coverage, multimedia links, recollections...
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Re: CONCERT REPORT: Tel Aviv, September 24

Postby sturgess66 » Thu Oct 01, 2009 8:57 pm

Video on YouTube from "jerusalemgypsy" - from that "up front seat" -

Marianne
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9DGcdM0SOys

also

Hallelujah
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lQdab_4IgRE
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Re: CONCERT REPORT: Tel Aviv, September 24

Postby sturgess66 » Thu Oct 01, 2009 11:48 pm

From the JewishCommunity.com -

http://www.thejc.com/arts/music-reviews ... li-triumph
Hallelujah! Leonard Cohen’s Israeli Triumph

By Jenni Frazer, October 1, 2009
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Cohen’s religious lyrics had particular resonance in Israel last week.

When Leonard Cohen drew back from the stage slightly at the end of his marathon three-and-a-half-hour set in Ramat Gan, and recited the Birkat Cohanim — the blessing of the priests — complete with outstretched arms of benediction, there was a collective sigh from the enraptured crowd.

It was a sign that Israel’s often battered sense of itself still had a moral basis. Here, after all, was one of our own, come back in triumph.

Taking to an Israeli stage for the first time in more than 20 years, Leonard Cohen, at 75, seemed to have a revitalised spring in his step. His international tour has led to worldwide praise, even by his erstwhile critics, who loved to say that Cohen’s was music to which to commit suicide.

But, having seen him twice in London, I can say with certainty that in Israel Leonard Cohen surpassed himself. So many of his lyrics have a religious, biblical resonance that hearing them in Israel lent them a new meaning. It was only days before Yom Kippur and there was Leonard Cohen singing Who by fire, taken from the Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur liturgy. His back-up singers, Hattie and Charley Webb, gave a coruscating rendition of If it be thy will.

For me, probably the most hair-on-the-back of the neck moment came with his song The Partisan, written in French and English. In English, he sings “and then the soldiers came.... she died without a whisper”. In French, he sings “Les Allemands”, rather than “the soldiers”. The Germans came. And this he sang to a crowd of 55,000, in which there were almost certainly the sons and daughters of survivors — and yes, many of them were and had been soldiers.

This was billed as a Concert of Peace and Reconciliation and much of the near $2 million proceeds have gone to the Bereaved Parents Circle, a group of Israelis and Palestinians who have lost members of their families to the continuing conflict. Cohen made several references to the group from the stage and said, in yet another reference to liturgy, that theirs was a “holy, holy, holy” undertaking which should receive support.

A friend told me that in recent years, any big pop star who took the trouble to learn “Shalom, Israel” when they took to the stage has been greeted with an almost pathetic, longing, response. Gosh, the outside world isn’t all bad. They don’t all hate us. See, Madonna said “Shalom”!

But with Leonard Cohen the response was different. What might have been thought cheesy or kitsch — his declaration of “Mah tovu”, “How goodly are thy tents” — achieved a different connotation.

This, after all, was Cohen, the grandson of a major Hebrew grammarian, the child of rabbis, and a committed Jew — even though he is also a Buddhist monk. This was Cohen who asked for the words of his songs to be translated into Hebrew subtitles, so that an awed crowd watched as the words of the Psalms, all of which they knew from childhood, floated across the screens.

And when in one of his three triumphant encores, Cohen let the crowd sing First we take Manhattan, then we take Berlin, there was a real sense of affirmation. We are here and we are here to stay, was the message.

And Leonard Cohen is Our Jew, and he has come home.

Jenni Frazer is Assistant Editor of the JC
Last updated: 2:52pm, October 1 2009
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Re: CONCERT REPORT: Tel Aviv, September 24

Postby bridger15 » Fri Oct 02, 2009 6:49 am

LC speaks at length, for two minutes addressing the "Israeli and Palestinian families who have lost so much in the conflict..."

Intro to "Anthem"
Accompanied by Neil Larsen.

Video by EddieElad
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VO_3ZY1p ... re=channel

Posted on Sept 28 and only 43 views to date.

This is a magnificent historical record and is worthy of being viewed by many more.

Thank you EddieElad for capturing this and posting it.
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Arlene's Leonard Cohen Scrapbook http://onboogiestreet.blogspot.com
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Re: CONCERT REPORT: Tel Aviv, September 24

Postby Florian » Fri Oct 02, 2009 8:02 pm

Found this Video from a news-report about the concert:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aPHXWaXChIk

includes scenes from the press-conference with Mr. Cory and some Short scenes from the soundcheck it seems (Band in street clothes)
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Re: CONCERT REPORT: Tel Aviv, September 24

Postby sturgess66 » Fri Oct 02, 2009 10:22 pm

Wonderful article in Jerusalem Post about Leonard - "... his concert, a moving event that put to shame recent musical attempts by Madonna and Depeche Mode to sweep the country off its feet."

"ARTISTICALLY, Cohen defies two traits that frequently plague the popular genres to which his music partly belongs: noise and shallowness."

http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite? ... 2FShowFull
Middle Israel: Why Leonard Cohen Moved Israel
Oct. 1, 2009
Amotz Asa-El , THE JERUSALEM POST
LC-Jerusalem Post.jpg
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If there is one place along the notoriously hedonistic Coastal Plain that is even less spiritual than the rest of that restless urban sprawl, it is Ramat Gan. The city to Tel Aviv's east prides itself on assorted claims to fame, from the country's first mall, tallest building and largest stadium to the world's leading diamond exchange.

Inspiration and introspection, however, let alone repentance, were hardly on the minds of this town's builders - a set of liberals who were even more secular than Israel's socialist founders.

That alone, therefore, made last week's encounter in Ramat Gan Stadium between 50,000 mostly secular Israelis and the lone, frail, contemplative and unfashionably capped Leonard Cohen - seem like the unarmed Jonah's improbable conquest of sinful Nineveh.

Cohen the singer, poet and novelist needs no introduction to most Middle Israelis; and those who hadn't known of this graduate of Montreal's Herzliya High School who became Canada's leading poet could have learned all about him through the extensive coverage that preceded and followed his concert, a moving event that put to shame recent musical attempts by Madonna and Depeche Mode to sweep the country off its feet.

The question, therefore, is not what Leonard Cohen was trying to say here - unique though his inspiring lyrics and caressing tunes are, they have been with us for decades - but what his audience was voting for with its feet, artistically, politically and religiously.

ARTISTICALLY, Cohen defies two traits that frequently plague the popular genres to which his music partly belongs: noise and shallowness.

The thousands of Americans and Europeans who crowd this septuagenarian's concerts don't just tolerate the minimalism of his tunes, the near-silence of his tone and the quest for meaning that runs through his lines, they crave them. We Jews are passively reminded every fall that for centuries most people ordinarily heard hardly any artificial noise, even that of a shofar, let alone a musical orchestra, not to mention factories, highways, locomotives or jets. Now we have come full circle; modern man's ears are so infused and invaded by cacophony, blabber and clamor that he has come to thirst for the velvet touch of a whisper, the very kind that is Cohen's hallmark. That is why his music has won an estimated 2,000 different renditions over the years.

In yearning for this departure from contemporary musical routine, Cohen's Israeli following is no different than others. Moreover, some in the audience that packed Ramat Gan Stadium were there because everyone else was there, or because they wanted to be seen, or just for the heck of it. And yet, the critical mass was there for very Israeli reasons.

For Israelis, the sight of a successful man tenderly searching his soul and at the same time worshiping God in quest of repentance is rare.

When hearing words like "they sentenced me to 20 years," Israelis don't think of larger-than-life revolutionaries accused of "trying to change the system" but of smalltime politicians charged with wheeling, dealing, embezzling, skimming and double billing, too. When, they ask, will one, just one, of this snaking line of disgraced notables emerge from his jail term and confess, "I did my best, it wasn't much, I couldn't feel, so I tried to touch," and how many of these can credibly say, "I've told the truth, I didn't come to fool you," or at the very least concede, as Cohen has to the crowd's delight, "And even though it all went wrong, I'll stand before the Lord of Song, with nothing on my lips but Hallelujah?"

Now this is not to say that the large audience in Ramat Gan was really captured by, or even aware of the irony, from our Israeli viewpoint, in Cohen's follow-up on David's surrender to temptation. This context was there, at best, subconsciously. What was not subconscious was Cohen's kind of religiosity.

HAVING LOST his father as a child, Cohen was deeply influenced by his grandfather, Rabbi Shlomo Klinitski, who taught him Bible, Talmud and mysticism, and inspired Cohen's The Spice-Box of the Earth, the book that made him famous back in 1961. There, in "Lines from My Grandfather's Journal," Cohen brought together King David and 16th-century sage Rabbi Judah Loew, the Maharal of Prague, for a kind of dialogue that can only be imagined by someone who is intimately familiar with Judaism's sources and attached to its traditions.

Though a growing number of Israeli performers, from Shlomo Gronich to Meir Banai, are seeking their Jewish roots, there are very few in the country's cultural scene today, from novelists and painters to academics and rabbis, not to mention singers, who are capable of this sort of creativity.

That is why Cohen is an inspiration here. His is a kind of Judaism that has yet to emerge here in full force. That is why 50,000 Israelis joined Cohen in singing "Who by Fire," his version of the 12th-century prayer about the judgment on Yom Kippur of all people, some to life and some to death, and of all states, some to the sword and some to peace - a song he wrote after journeying to the charred battlefields of the Yom Kippur War.

Last week, so close to and yet so far from the Diamond Exchange, the Ayalon Mall and the Aviv Tower, and so deep within yet so well above the stadium that ordinarily hears the curses of Israeli soccer fans, a multitude of Middle Israelis swayed as this Diaspora Jew named Cohen, in what may have been his last appearance here, lifted his hands and blessed all at hand in the traditional blessing of the priests.

Yet this Cohen is a priest only by name.

In practice, he is the antithesis of the caste that cultivated ritual, frosted faith and suppressed spiritual spontaneity, let alone dissent. A man like Leonard Cohen - who in a 1964 conference of Canadian Jewish leaders said money had replaced for them the values of the prophets, and that the very term "Jewish establishment" was an oxymoron - is in his substance more prophet than priest.

And that's what is so unique in him to secular Israelis.

Here and now, Judaism is also often held hostage by an establishment that cares more for faith's legislation and imposition than for the souls of the people it is meant to inspire. That at least is what 50,000 Israelis voted last week by their feet as they flocked to Ramat Gan Stadium where they joined a distant cousin's prayer, some waving candlesticks, some moving lips and some wiping tears.

http://www.MiddleIsrael.com
btw - This YouTube video by MajorTom that includes "Hey, That's No Way To Say Goodbye, "Wither Thou Goest" and the Priestly Blessing has 2523 views already. As well as being "found" on YouTube, it was probably embedded into articles about the concert. Unfortunately, a lot of the video is not well labeled and doesn't come up easily without a deeper search.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A6Y1x2y3qyg
Last edited by sturgess66 on Sat Oct 03, 2009 12:30 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: CONCERT REPORT: Tel Aviv, September 24

Postby Carmen » Fri Oct 02, 2009 11:38 pm

Two superb articles and the video clip that Arlene found on YouTube have just placed a rainbow on this end-of-holidays weekend of mine.
And, I feel I should add, so many beautiful words emerging from the hearts of journalists who suppressed the immediate urge to write polite journalistic phrasing about "a concert" (however fabulous) and took a moment to let real feelings and emotions flow through their words.
And the fragment on YouTube with Leonard's words before "Anthem" are so moving! To quote him, "I bow my head in respect for this enterprise..."

... Right now I am watching "Schindler's List" on one of the Romanian TV channels... but this should go on another thread... and I am ready to cry the heavy tears of sorrow which never seem to end whenever I see this movie again... and again...

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Re: CONCERT REPORT: Tel Aviv, September 24

Postby lizzytysh » Sat Oct 03, 2009 5:35 am

Very moving articles, both of them... thank you, Carmen, for your words on why. Thank you, Sturgess, for posting them.


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Re: CONCERT REPORT: Tel Aviv, September 24

Postby jarkko » Sat Oct 03, 2009 10:40 am

Reviews of the Forum members and media plus amazing photos (thumbnails and original sizes available) now at
http://www.leonardcohenfiles.com/ramatgan.html
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Re: CONCERT REPORT: Tel Aviv, September 24

Postby reneny3 » Sat Oct 03, 2009 12:18 pm

jarkko wrote:Reviews of the Forum members and media plus amazing photos (thumbnails and original sizes available) now at
http://www.leonardcohenfiles.com/ramatgan.html
Thank you, Jarkko, and anyone who has contributed to forming this page. It is such a beautiful and moving tribute. It captures the essence of this memorable and special concert.

I’ve met with quite a few friends who, like me, have attended this concert after attending a few concerts abroad, and the consensus is that this concert was really the most moving of all. It’s already been over a week since the concert took place, but we’re all still walking on air… :)
There is a crack in everything - that's how the light gets in.
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Re: CONCERT REPORT: Tel Aviv, September 24

Postby sturgess66 » Sat Oct 03, 2009 3:58 pm

From Jerusalem post -
http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite? ... 2FShowFull
Editor's Notes: A blessing welcomed, a blessing spurned

Oct. 2, 2009
By David Horovitz , THE JERUSALEM POST

The joy, and the heartbreak, of Leonard Cohen's visit to the Holy Land.

There was something uniquely poignant about Leonard Cohen's Ramat Gan concert last Thursday night. We were hearing a Jewish singer-poet, a descendant of the priestly caste, no small part of whose most resonant and beloved material derives from the Bible. He was bringing his musical offerings to the land where the audience probably appreciated them more than any other crowd could. And he knew - and we knew - that he was likely doing so for the very last time.

"I don't know if we will pass this way again," Cohen observed, a few songs into what would prove to be a ridiculously generous set-list. Indeed not.

He defied the passing years with a show that, lasting some three and a half hours, thoroughly contradicted the title of the final song he played, "Hey, That's No Way To Say Goodbye." He delivered reams of his perceptive, beautifully constructed lyrics with passion and absolute precision. He sang, notably on the encore numbers "So Long, Marianne" and "First We Take Manhattan," with a force and a warmth that stripped the self-deprecating irony from his earlier line, in "Tower of Song," about being "born with the gift of a golden voice." He veritably skipped off-stage between encores - and in one appropriate case (after "Take This Waltz"), even solo-waltzed into the wings, his jaunty silhouette reflected larger than life on the backstage curtains.

But the man has just turned 75. Forget singing and dancing. At that age, I'll be happy to be talking and walking.

Leonard Cohen reminded us why we go to concerts. We brave the traffic and pay outrageous amounts of money to be pushed and shoved through security at the entrance gates, to stand or sit in acute discomfort, to inhale intolerant others' second-hand smoke. Sometimes, the artist deeply disappoints - appearing late or lackluster. If we're lucky, expectations are fulfilled - the music pulses like it never can through your speakers or your headphones, the audience responds, we go home enthused. But rarely, very, very rarely, something truly transcendent occurs, and the shared experience sends the heart soaring.

So it was last Thursday. The man on stage was an unremarkable, if spry, elderly figure in an unpromising dark fedora. Until he sang, in his tender, raspy, world-weary baritone. And his three female accompanying singers reached for the harmonies of angels. Then the songs - his stories, his philosophies and his prayers set to fragile, insistent melodies - rolled out in honeyed, irresistible waves from the stage to the tens of thousands of lip-synching disciples. And we, and he, were inspired.

SADLY, THOUGH, Leonard Cohen's visit is not solely a tale of inspiration. It is also a tale of stupidity and of dismal, bleak intolerance. The stupidity is marginal and Israeli. The intolerance is overwhelming and Palestinian.

Our septuagenarian balladeer had planned to perform twice in this neighborhood - for the 50,000 or so Israelis who packed the stands at Ramat Gan, and a day or two later in the West Bank, probably at the Ramallah Cultural Palace, which holds rather fewer than 1,000.

In both cases, the profits from the concerts were to have been directed toward various organizations that strive for Israeli-Palestinian dialogue, under the direction of the Parents' Circle-Family Forum group. This is a grassroots partnership of bereaved Israelis and Palestinians whose "response to human grief," as Cohen put it from the stage at Ramat Gan - whose response, that is, to their own bereavement - has been to try to bridge the chasm, "to reach across the border into the houses of the enemy," and work to halt the futile violence of our abiding conflict.

The artist had not come to preach. Tellingly, he chose not to play the seemingly apt "Story of Isaac," with its stern rebuke to fathers not to "sacrifice these children." Eschewing the Bono-Bob Geldof rock-star-changing-the-world role, Cohen explained with humility that he was not presenting himself as the facilitator of some grandiose exercise in peacemaking: "This is not about forgiving and forgetting. This is not about laying down one's arms in a time of war. This is not even about peace, although, God willing, it could be a beginning."

It was, rather, he said, that he wanted to allocate the monies earned from his visit to people who were resisting "the inclination of the heart to despair, revenge and hatred."

"Baruch Hashem," he said in Hebrew. Blessed is Thy name. "I bow my head in respect to the nobility of this enterprise."

For a small minority of Israelis to whom I've spoken in the past few days, and others that I've heard about, Cohen's insistence on supporting and funding a mission of hope trailblazed by those with the greatest cause for hatred and mistrust was, incredibly, perceived as an act of Jewish disloyalty, of betrayal, of somehow siding with the enemy. Several people told me, rather smugly, that they had boycotted the Ramat Gan concert because of the destination of the proceeds.

Words almost fail me, but I'll try: How foolish and short-sighted and self-destructive can some of us Jews be? There is no future here - no future for Jews, no future for Arabs - if both sides are not committed to finding a means by which we can live alongside each other without fear.

As regular readers of this column will know, I believe the Israeli mainstream long ago internalized the imperative for an accommodation with the Palestinians, and that the failure to achieve it stems from the abiding Palestinian refusal to acknowledge Jewish sovereign rights here and to abandon the idea of destroying our country. I yield to no one in my bitter castigation of the duplicitous, terror-fostering Yasser Arafat for refusing to meet Israel on the path to peace, and of his ostensibly better-intentioned successor, Mahmoud Abbas, for choosing not to challenge the vicious, demonizing attitude to Israel he inherited. Until all this changes, we have no choice but to defend ourselves, and so we do, sometimes at wrenching cost.

But the way forward, the only way forward, is to empower those who do seek a better future - to encourage leaders who promote moderation, and ordinary people who are prepared, most especially in the case of the Palestinians, to defy the extremists and the inciters, and reach out across the divide. Well, those are the very people Cohen was seeking to encourage - the people who have lost loved ones of their own and want to see the killing stop. Supporting them is not Jewish disloyalty; it is Jewish defense.

Such closed-mindedness, however, was fairly marginal among Israelis, and demonstrably had no impact on the Ramat Gan performance: The show sold out overnight.

A short drive away in Ramallah, however, the hostility was decisive. The idea of the second concert, the West Bank concert, had barely begun to crystallize before it was shot down by the Israel-haters, the peace-haters, the boycotters.

So consumed by its hatred for Israel is the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel that it has forgotten to love Palestine. So determined was this Ramallah-based group, and a great toxic mass of similarly hysterical agitators worldwide, notably British academics, to register their revulsion with Cohen for his crime of entertaining the citizens of "Israel's colonial apartheid regime," as PACBI described us in a statement in July, that his modest attempt at nurturing humanity through melody in Ramallah was discordantly stillborn. So feeble was the voice of Palestinian reason, it was drowned out before it could begin to sing its first verse.

What are we to make of the nascent nation alongside us when it slams the door, or allows the door to be slammed, on a troubadour who sought only to raise spirits and stir compassion? "There's a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in," Cohen sang, so wisely, in "Anthem." Not everything, it turns out. Some hatreds are hermetic.

TRULY OUR neighbors' loss - and in so many ways. A lost opportunity. A lost bridge. A lost symbol of something better. Oh, and a lost evening of glorious music.

Many of Cohen's songs are explicitly personal - dissections of failed relationships, self-deprecating reflections on his own fading light - but many more are universal musings on the human spirit, and some, last Thursday night, seemed unerringly particular to us.

The friend sitting alongside me was adamant that one of Cohen's most moving compositions, "Famous Blue Raincoat," was written about Israel, soon after he came here to play for our soldiers in the Yom Kippur War. "I hear that you're building your little house, deep in the desert. You're living for nothing now..." This could only be a reference to the kibbutz life. Perhaps the "Famous Blue Raincoat" itself was a metaphor for Israel - the Jewish people's layer of protection, nowadays a little "torn at the shoulder"?

But no, the song was written, and released, before that war - and is merely an imperfect account, in Cohen's overly critical self-assessment, of a doomed romance.

"Hallelujah," though, far and away his best-known song thanks to its association with John Cale, Jeff Buckley and a certain green, Scottish-brogued ogre, was reclaimed in Ramat Gan as our psalm. The singer's voice, truly a blaze of light in every word, was echoed by tens of thousands more. A standing ovation followed.

"Who By Fire," its lyrics inspired by the High Holy Days' "Unetaneh Tokef" prayer, was mesmerizing, too - its probing questions on the unknowable nature of death, and our helplessness before it, challenging our consciences, so appropriately, in the midst of the Days of Penitence. In its recorded version, the song's relentless rhythm and bleak vocals veer close to the funereal; hearing it rejuvenated now, with his wonderful band's lush propulsion, it was as though we had gathered to celebrate and to surrender, under the warm open skies of the Holy Land, to the impending annual Divine accounting.

And most affecting of all, with "If It Be Your Will," Cohen, like no other artist could, seemed to shepherd us back through the millennia, to the time, in these very lands, when our ancestors spoke and sang their prayers of fealty and supplication in absolute certainty that they were communicating with the Lord.

First, alone at center stage, with that perfect orator's diction, he uttered his plea to the Creator: "If it be your will, if there is a choice, let the rivers fill, let the hills rejoice. Let your mercy spill, on all these burning hearts in hell, if it be your will, to make us well."

Then two of his musicians, sisters Charley and Hattie Webb, took his words and flew with them, their voices swirling, dancing and triumphantly meeting in harmonies that rang out, crystal clear, across a hushed, awed stadium: "And draw us near, and bind us tight, all your children here, in their rags of light."

Here was the concert's most uplifting moment. Here, in a soulless concrete sports arena, in the neon shadow of signs from the adjacent shopping mall and furniture stores, an undeniably holy experience unfolded - the purest of voices rising to the heavens, carried by the collective will of 50,000 aching souls. This, surely, was how it was in Temple times.

THE SONGS, many of them, are four decades old. He's been playing them on this improbable late-life world tour, his first for 15 years, for the past 18 months. But as the concert went on, you sensed that the performer, too, his eyes closed often in concentration, was finding fresh nuances in his lyrics.

Sometimes he changed a word or two to raise an easy laugh. "I didn't come to Tel Aviv to fool you," is emphatically not in the "Hallelujah" original. Nor does "I'm Your Man" usually reference his "old man's mask."

But more often, it was the original, sacrosanct words that brought stadium-wide responses. "I bid you farewell, I don't know when I'll be back," he sang in "Tower of Song," to sorrowful applause. "Here's a man still working for your smile" prompted ecstatic cheers near the end. The very title of the song from which that line comes, "I Tried to Leave You," found Cohen grinning wryly, and the audience with him.

When he did finally leave us, it was after pledging his solidarity by quoting from Ruth - "Thy people shall be my people. Whither thou goest, I will go." And it was after emphasizing his shared identity by bestowing the priestly blessing upon us - "Yevarechecha Hashem Veyishmerecha..." May the Lord bless and protect you... - in confident Ashkenazi Hebrew.

No, we don't know when, or even if, Leonard Cohen will be back. But he'd promised that "you'll be hearing from me baby, long after I'm gone. I'll be speaking to you sweetly from a window in the Tower of Song."

Hey, that's the way to say goodbye.
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Re: CONCERT REPORT: Tel Aviv, September 24

Postby lizzytysh » Sat Oct 03, 2009 4:26 pm

Thank you for posting David Horovitz's review, Sturgess. With its depth and breadth, I just sat and cried as I read it. *I'm trusting that Jarkko will add it to his newly-created page.*

* . . . * ~ Well, maybe not. I've just gone and seen the construction and layout of the page and it seems it may be done. A beautiful page. And this, a beautiful article.


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Re: CONCERT REPORT: Tel Aviv, September 24

Postby sturgess66 » Sat Oct 03, 2009 7:28 pm

Lizzy - I hesitated about which thread. It is a long one and he (David Horovitz) talks of many things. But it is about Leonard and his wonderful musicians and singers and the whole production, and the tour - and the show in Tel Aviv. And it is a good one.
Leonard Cohen reminded us why we go to concerts. We brave the traffic and pay outrageous amounts of money to be pushed and shoved through security at the entrance gates, to stand or sit in acute discomfort, to inhale intolerant others' second-hand smoke. Sometimes, the artist deeply disappoints - appearing late or lackluster. If we're lucky, expectations are fulfilled - the music pulses like it never can through your speakers or your headphones, the audience responds, we go home enthused. But rarely, very, very rarely, something truly transcendent occurs, and the shared experience sends the heart soaring.

So it was last Thursday. The man on stage was an unremarkable, if spry, elderly figure in an unpromising dark fedora. Until he sang, in his tender, raspy, world-weary baritone. And his three female accompanying singers reached for the harmonies of angels. Then the songs - his stories, his philosophies and his prayers set to fragile, insistent melodies - rolled out in honeyed, irresistible waves from the stage to the tens of thousands of lip-synching disciples. And we, and he, were inspired.
:D :D :D
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Re: CONCERT REPORT: Tel Aviv, September 24

Postby MaryB » Sat Oct 03, 2009 9:52 pm

jarkko wrote:Reviews of the Forum members and media plus amazing photos (thumbnails and original sizes available) now at
http://www.leonardcohenfiles.com/ramatgan.html
Jarkko,
Thank you for this beautifully put together synopsis of the Tel Aviv concert. Ziv Koren's photos are stunning, and the posts/articles are so well chosen and truly capture the experience.

Linda,
Thank you for posting David Horwitz's well written and well thought out introspective article.

Best regards,
Mary
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jenrbr
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Beautiful editorial from the Jerusalem Post

Postby jenrbr » Sun Oct 04, 2009 2:17 am

Not to be missed.
I am posting this most heartfelt editorial written by David Horovitz in yesterday's Jerusalem Post.
Enjoy.
kol tov
Jenny

p.s. A warm chag sameach to everyone here celebrating sukkot.
-------------------------------------
Editor's Notes: A blessing welcomed, a blessing spurned
Oct. 2, 2009
David Horovitz , THE JERUSALEM POST

The joy, and the heartbreak, of Leonard Cohen's visit to the Holy Land.

There was something uniquely poignant about Leonard Cohen's Ramat Gan concert
last Thursday night. We were hearing a Jewish singer-poet, a descendant of the
priestly caste, no small part of whose most resonant and beloved material
derives from the Bible. He was bringing his musical offerings to the land where
the audience probably appreciated them more than any other crowd could. And he
knew - and we knew - that he was likely doing so for the very last time.

"I don't know if we will pass this way again," Cohen observed, a few songs into
what would prove to be a ridiculously generous set-list. Indeed not.

He defied the passing years with a show that, lasting some three and a half
hours, thoroughly contradicted the title of the final song he played, "Hey,
That's No Way To Say Goodbye." He delivered reams of his perceptive, beautifully
constructed lyrics with passion and absolute precision. He sang, notably on the
encore numbers "So Long, Marianne" and "First We Take Manhattan," with a force
and a warmth that stripped the self-deprecating irony from his earlier line, in
"Tower of Song," about being "born with the gift of a golden voice." He
veritably skipped off-stage between encores - and in one appropriate case (after
"Take This Waltz"), even solo-waltzed into the wings, his jaunty silhouette
reflected larger than life on the backstage curtains.

But the man has just turned 75. Forget singing and dancing. At that age, I'll be
happy to be talking and walking.

Leonard Cohen reminded us why we go to concerts. We brave the traffic and pay
outrageous amounts of money to be pushed and shoved through security at the
entrance gates, to stand or sit in acute discomfort, to inhale intolerant
others' second-hand smoke. Sometimes, the artist deeply disappoints - appearing
late or lackluster. If we're lucky, expectations are fulfilled - the music
pulses like it never can through your speakers or your headphones, the audience
responds, we go home enthused. But rarely, very, very rarely, something truly
transcendent occurs, and the shared experience sends the heart soaring.

So it was last Thursday. The man on stage was an unremarkable, if spry, elderly
figure in an unpromising dark fedora. Until he sang, in his tender, raspy,
world-weary baritone. And his three female accompanying singers reached for the
harmonies of angels. Then the songs - his stories, his philosophies and his
prayers set to fragile, insistent melodies - rolled out in honeyed, irresistible
waves from the stage to the tens of thousands of lip-synching disciples. And we,
and he, were inspired.

SADLY, THOUGH, Leonard Cohen's visit is not solely a tale of inspiration. It is
also a tale of stupidity and of dismal, bleak intolerance. The stupidity is
marginal and Israeli. The intolerance is overwhelming and Palestinian.

Our septuagenarian balladeer had planned to perform twice in this neighborhood -
for the 50,000 or so Israelis who packed the stands at Ramat Gan, and a day or
two later in the West Bank, probably at the Ramallah Cultural Palace, which
holds rather fewer than 1,000.

In both cases, the profits from the concerts were to have been directed toward
various organizations that strive for Israeli-Palestinian dialogue, under the
direction of the Parents' Circle-Family Forum group. This is a grassroots
partnership of bereaved Israelis and Palestinians whose "response to human
grief," as Cohen put it from the stage at Ramat Gan - whose response, that is,
to their own bereavement - has been to try to bridge the chasm, "to reach across
the border into the houses of the enemy," and work to halt the futile violence
of our abiding conflict.

The artist had not come to preach. Tellingly, he chose not to play the seemingly
apt "Story of Isaac," with its stern rebuke to fathers not to "sacrifice these
children." Eschewing the Bono-Bob Geldof rock-star-changing-the-world role,
Cohen explained with humility that he was not presenting himself as the
facilitator of some grandiose exercise in peacemaking: "This is not about
forgiving and forgetting. This is not about laying down one's arms in a time of
war. This is not even about peace, although, God willing, it could be a
beginning."

It was, rather, he said, that he wanted to allocate the monies earned from his
visit to people who were resisting "the inclination of the heart to despair,
revenge and hatred."

"Baruch Hashem," he said in Hebrew. Blessed is Thy name. "I bow my head in
respect to the nobility of this enterprise."

For a small minority of Israelis to whom I've spoken in the past few days, and
others that I've heard about, Cohen's insistence on supporting and funding a
mission of hope trailblazed by those with the greatest cause for hatred and
mistrust was, incredibly, perceived as an act of Jewish disloyalty, of betrayal,
of somehow siding with the enemy. Several people told me, rather smugly, that
they had boycotted the Ramat Gan concert because of the destination of the
proceeds.

Words almost fail me, but I'll try: How foolish and short-sighted and
self-destructive can some of us Jews be? There is no future here - no future for
Jews, no future for Arabs - if both sides are not committed to finding a means
by which we can live alongside each other without fear.

As regular readers of this column will know, I believe the Israeli mainstream
long ago internalized the imperative for an accommodation with the Palestinians,
and that the failure to achieve it stems from the abiding Palestinian refusal to
acknowledge Jewish sovereign rights here and to abandon the idea of destroying
our country. I yield to no one in my bitter castigation of the duplicitous,
terror-fostering Yasser Arafat for refusing to meet Israel on the path to peace,
and of his ostensibly better-intentioned successor, Mahmoud Abbas, for choosing
not to challenge the vicious, demonizing attitude to Israel he inherited. Until
all this changes, we have no choice but to defend ourselves, and so we do,
sometimes at wrenching cost.

But the way forward, the only way forward, is to empower those who do seek a
better future - to encourage leaders who promote moderation, and ordinary people
who are prepared, most especially in the case of the Palestinians, to defy the
extremists and the inciters, and reach out across the divide. Well, those are
the very people Cohen was seeking to encourage - the people who have lost loved
ones of their own and want to see the killing stop. Supporting them is not
Jewish disloyalty; it is Jewish defense.

Such closed-mindedness, however, was fairly marginal among Israelis, and
demonstrably had no impact on the Ramat Gan performance: The show sold out
overnight.

A short drive away in Ramallah, however, the hostility was decisive. The idea of
the second concert, the West Bank concert, had barely begun to crystallize
before it was shot down by the Israel-haters, the peace-haters, the boycotters.

So consumed by its hatred for Israel is the Palestinian Campaign for the
Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel that it has forgotten to love Palestine.
So determined was this Ramallah-based group, and a great toxic mass of similarly
hysterical agitators worldwide, notably British academics, to register their
revulsion with Cohen for his crime of entertaining the citizens of "Israel's
colonial apartheid regime," as PACBI described us in a statement in July, that
his modest attempt at nurturing humanity through melody in Ramallah was
discordantly stillborn. So feeble was the voice of Palestinian reason, it was
drowned out before it could begin to sing its first verse.

What are we to make of the nascent nation alongside us when it slams the door,
or allows the door to be slammed, on a troubadour who sought only to raise
spirits and stir compassion? "There's a crack in everything, that's how the
light gets in," Cohen sang, so wisely, in "Anthem." Not everything, it turns
out. Some hatreds are hermetic.

TRULY OUR neighbors' loss - and in so many ways. A lost opportunity. A lost
bridge. A lost symbol of something better. Oh, and a lost evening of glorious
music.

Many of Cohen's songs are explicitly personal - dissections of failed
relationships, self-deprecating reflections on his own fading light - but many
more are universal musings on the human spirit, and some, last Thursday night,
seemed unerringly particular to us.

The friend sitting alongside me was adamant that one of Cohen's most moving
compositions, "Famous Blue Raincoat," was written about Israel, soon after he
came here to play for our soldiers in the Yom Kippur War. "I hear that you're
building your little house, deep in the desert. You're living for nothing
now..." This could only be a reference to the kibbutz life. Perhaps the "Famous
Blue Raincoat" itself was a metaphor for Israel - the Jewish people's layer of
protection, nowadays a little "torn at the shoulder"?

But no, the song was written, and released, before that war - and is merely an
imperfect account, in Cohen's overly critical self-assessment, of a doomed
romance.

"Hallelujah," though, far and away his best-known song thanks to its association
with John Cale, Jeff Buckley and a certain green, Scottish-brogued ogre, was
reclaimed in Ramat Gan as our psalm. The singer's voice, truly a blaze of light
in every word, was echoed by tens of thousands more. A standing ovation
followed.

"Who By Fire," its lyrics inspired by the High Holy Days' "Unetaneh Tokef"
prayer, was mesmerizing, too - its probing questions on the unknowable nature of
death, and our helplessness before it, challenging our consciences, so
appropriately, in the midst of the Days of Penitence. In its recorded version,
the song's relentless rhythm and bleak vocals veer close to the funereal;
hearing it rejuvenated now, with his wonderful band's lush propulsion, it was as
though we had gathered to celebrate and to surrender, under the warm open skies
of the Holy Land, to the impending annual Divine accounting.

And most affecting of all, with "If It Be Your Will," Cohen, like no other
artist could, seemed to shepherd us back through the millennia, to the time, in
these very lands, when our ancestors spoke and sang their prayers of fealty and
supplication in absolute certainty that they were communicating with the Lord.

First, alone at center stage, with that perfect orator's diction, he uttered his
plea to the Creator: "If it be your will, if there is a choice, let the rivers
fill, let the hills rejoice. Let your mercy spill, on all these burning hearts
in hell, if it be your will, to make us well."

Then two of his musicians, sisters Charley and Hattie Webb, took his words and
flew with them, their voices swirling, dancing and triumphantly meeting in
harmonies that rang out, crystal clear, across a hushed, awed stadium: "And draw
us near, and bind us tight, all your children here, in their rags of light."

Here was the concert's most uplifting moment. Here, in a soulless concrete
sports arena, in the neon shadow of signs from the adjacent shopping mall and
furniture stores, an undeniably holy experience unfolded - the purest of voices
rising to the heavens, carried by the collective will of 50,000 aching souls.
This, surely, was how it was in Temple times.

THE SONGS, many of them, are four decades old. He's been playing them on this
improbable late-life world tour, his first for 15 years, for the past 18 months.
But as the concert went on, you sensed that the performer, too, his eyes closed
often in concentration, was finding fresh nuances in his lyrics.

Sometimes he changed a word or two to raise an easy laugh. "I didn't come to Tel
Aviv to fool you," is emphatically not in the "Hallelujah" original. Nor does
"I'm Your Man" usually reference his "old man's mask."

But more often, it was the original, sacrosanct words that brought stadium-wide
responses. "I bid you farewell, I don't know when I'll be back," he sang in
"Tower of Song," to sorrowful applause. "Here's a man still working for your
smile" prompted ecstatic cheers near the end. The very title of the song from
which that line comes, "I Tried to Leave You," found Cohen grinning wryly, and
the audience with him.

When he did finally leave us, it was after pledging his solidarity by quoting
from Ruth - "Thy people shall be my people. Whither thou goest, I will go." And
it was after emphasizing his shared identity by bestowing the priestly blessing
upon us - "Yevarechecha Hashem Veyishmerecha..." May the Lord bless and protect
you... - in confident Ashkenazi Hebrew.

No, we don't know when, or even if, Leonard Cohen will be back. But he'd
promised that "you'll be hearing from me baby, long after I'm gone. I'll be
speaking to you sweetly from a window in the Tower of Song."

Hey, that's the way to say goodbye.
User avatar
mutti
Posts: 1943
Joined: Mon Feb 23, 2009 3:25 am
Location: somewhere in the Pacific Northwest

Re: Beautiful editorial from the Jerusalem Post

Postby mutti » Sun Oct 04, 2009 2:39 am

What a beautiful editorial...what a beautiful benediction. great article.
Mutti 8) :lol: 8)
1988 Vancouver
2009 Victoria/Seattle/Almost Red Rocks/Las Vegas/San Jose.
2010 Sligo x 2/Victoria/Vancouver/Portland/Las Vegas x 2.
2012 Austin x 2/Seattle/Vancouver/Montreal x 2.
2013 Oakland x 2/New York City x 2/Winnipeg...

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