CONCERT REPORT: ANJANI+LEONARD LIVE IN WARSAW

Recollections from Leonard Cohen's pre-2008 tours, YouTube clips
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jarkko
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Postby jarkko » Sun Apr 08, 2007 8:48 am

This Dziennik article (April 3) was again translated by Artur!!!
Legendary bard and his partner are in Poland
Leonard Cohen:
I’m bound to you
with heart’s ties


Before their show in Trójka, Anjani Thomas and Leonard Cohen did not have too much time for interviews. The artists, however, found some time to talk to “Dziennik” about music and their affection to the Poles.

It was supposed to be an interview just with Anjani Thomas – a Honolulu-born singer and Leonard Cohen’s life partner. Thomas and Cohen came to Poland to participate in Trójka’s 45th Anniversary Celebrations as well as to present in concert material from “Blue Alert” – an album they created together. After a quarter of my conversation with Anjani passed the Master entered the hotel room.

PIOTR STELMACH: How do you remember the years you spent in Hawaii? It’s quite an odd place for somebody who wants to have a career as a musician.

ANJANI THOMAS: Everybody keeps asking me: “How could you leave this paradise?”. Yet I always knew I wanted to become a musician. I played many an instrument, and I always felt attracted to places where music was playing: Be it New York or L. A. Besides, I have a problem with Hawaii. It’s just too hot for me there. I can’t function well under such conditions. It’s a different cup of tea with Leonard. He can sunbathe for days on end. This is exhausting for me; I can neither work nor think. This is why I prefer colder climates like London. I love the fog and the rain. This weather makes me hide at home and then I work. When it’s beautiful, I prefer going for a walk to working.

How did you find yourself in New York? I trust it was a completely different world for you…
Indeed. I came there in the early 80’s. I led a modest life, of course, like every other beginning artist. Before I sang on “Hallelujah” with Leonard, I had played clubs and was paid 30 dollars, which was enough to get supper. To get by, I had to work in various places. Nobody complained, though. We were young, full of energy, our daily life resembled gypsies’ life. I remember those years very fondly.

What place in your life does “Blue Alert” have?
The album was created at the times of great turbulence and chaos in our life. That was when Leonard found out his manager had robbed him off his all money. There came accountants, lawyers, detectives, IRS… We had to take lots of actions. All that absorbed our life like never before. We hadn’t cared about money, we hadn’t needed much to live a modest life, and suddenly we lost our resources. We had to think about issues we had never dealt with before… All those figures, investigations… Day by day for eighteen months. Such a life is an ordeal for an artist. These were not inspirational conditions. And we were recording the album at that period. It took us over a year, out of which we spent maybe two months in the studio. It was a great joy for us to bring those songs home… We listened to them ceaselessly, because that relaxed us. When we had eight songs, Leonard decided to go to New York to make sure if others shared our opinion – that the tracks were great. I insisted on finishing them, but he claimed they were exactly as they were supposed to be. I could never be sure if that indeed was a good idea (laughs).

At this stage Leonard Cohen walks into the hotel room. A brief greeting, thanks for the Trójka show. I’m not sure if I may point my microphone at him. The artist, however, dissipates my doubts and joins our conversation.

In one of “Blue Alert” reviews I read that the album is a guide in a trip over troubled water… That you hold listener by his hand not to let him have any doubts. These are beautiful words.
LEONARD COHEN: I’d add that, in a sense, we lead ourselves over the bridge, too! (laughs)

You are an artist that is inevitably associated with the term “freedom”. How would you define it?
The only freedom we have is in our capability to accept what is given to us. Life sets a number of challenges, which we have to take. One can’t run away from it. Still, we are not the ones to determine whether we can manage them successfully each and every time. Freedom is an illusion in a sense. In terms of your every day life, it means you have to do your thing the best way you can. And no offence, but often we have to do things we do not feel like doing at all.

Your first visit to Poland took place 22 years ago. For many it was one of the stimuli which triggered economic and political changes in our country.
I do not dwell on it. Life is a constant pursuit of our lucky star, of destiny. We do our thing, but we have no influence on issues that we happen to be involved in… I am happy to have said something that was then helpful to Poland. For one or the other reason our hearts were unified then.

It seems today that people needed your visit. Some were subconsciously waiting for the concert even though they could not attend.
I didn’t think about it. I never think in such categories anyway. I let things happen spontaneously. After all, audience cannot be hinted, prompted. Certain circumstances or the curiosity of what you do or say or of who you are is anyway veiled in the unknown. We were used by forces whose actions we did not fully comprehend and for many a reason let us not explore their mechanisms. The mystery of having your impact, or influencing others is still impenetrable.

Yesterday in an interview you granted for Trójka, you said that Poland and Norway are exceptional countries when it comes to reception of your work. Why is it here and nowhere else?
(long silence) I do not know (laughs). I have personal links with Norway. The same goes for France and England… I have very unique links with Lithuania and Poland, because these are the regions my family originates from. So if this is meaningful… it is a mystery to me. We remembered my visit to Warsaw 22 years ago… Naturally, the city has changed. It has experienced a wondrous transformation. Once, Warsaw was a beautiful, important city. It is nothing surprising to me that it has regained these attributes. One thing has not changed, though. It is my relations with the Poles – our hearts’ ties. Please bear in mind the fact that governments change, they are of various nature and it is a good thing that there is a change here – If not for governments, we would kill one another. But there is something inside of us that no system can destroy. I mean understanding at emotional level. I felt it in 1985 and I feel it now. Maybe I have that something, maybe you do. God only knows. However, I have no doubts that whatever it is, it still exists.
ANJANI THOMAS: Every time (we come) to Poland we meet with exceptionally warm reception. Such things stay in your memory for years. (in Polish) I am happy to be here. [Cieszę się, że tu jestem].
LEONARD COHEN: I hope we will come back here. It is an extraordinary country and extraordinary people.


Anjani Thomas – the Canadian Bard back-up singer

Although Anjani Thomas recorded two solo albums, for the rest of her days she will remain a Leonard Cohen’s back-up singer. Even the fact that the Canadian Bard has been doing his best to appoint her his successor over the last couple of years does not help her to avoid this pigeonholing. Regularly, he invites her to recording studios, writes for her, attends her shows, introduces her performances and he has lent his name to the latest album. “Blue Alert” is the first album that is not only written and composed, but also produced by Cohen. There is the rub. The songs are not sung by him, but by Anjani.
Alike other Cohen albums, “Blue Alert” is composed of true songs rather than ditties. The album is beautiful and calm as springtime, and most of the cosy compositions similarly to the Canadian’s farewell album “Dear Heather” finds their places somewhere between whisper and silence. Even though the album is permeated with lyricism, eroticism esotericism known from Leonard’s earlier recordings, fans have their right to feel disappointed. For Anjani’s bright, high and strong vocal is exactly the opposite of Cohen’s baritone which it was meant to substitute. Anjani, “Blue Alert” (Epic/Sony BMG)
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Postby jarkko » Sun Apr 08, 2007 9:41 pm

Artur transcribed the texts from tape! I'm also using some other material Artur kindly provided on the Warsaw page(s) - the draft of the first one is at http://www.leonardcohenfiles.com/warsaw2007.html
There will be another page showing backstage photos and comments by our members who made it to the concert!
Last edited by jarkko on Mon Apr 09, 2007 12:47 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby lizzytysh » Sun Apr 08, 2007 9:48 pm

Thank you to Artur [and you, Jarkko] for the translation and posting of the great article above! Except for the ending conclusion comments, I enjoyed it very much, and hearing Anjani speak at relative length. For me, with Blue Alert, there is neither rub nor disappointment.


~ Lizzy
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Postby jarkko » Mon Apr 09, 2007 5:33 pm

Now the new Warsaw backstage report with a lot of photos is at
http://www.leonardcohenfiles.com/warsaw2007-b.html
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Diane
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Postby Diane » Mon Apr 09, 2007 10:51 pm

Thanks Jarkko and everyone :D .
"Everyone wanted Cohen to sign something, or wanted to have a photo with him. When I entered to the room, I told my name, but when I sat down, I said: 'I do not have anything to sign, and I do not want to have a photo with You. I only want to spend 15 seconds next to You'. He was really suprised! And during the whole meeting, we were looking into each other eyes - this is what I wanted - to remember his eyes. I am glad I have no photo nor signature - (what is photo for? do You want it to adore someone - or to adore yourself?) but I know I will remember his eyes."

- Pawel Gorny
Pawel, I never had any doubt that people who ride bikes are something else.
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Postby lizzytysh » Tue Apr 10, 2007 5:18 am

Wonderful reports and photos... and, of course, Pawel's so refreshingly one-off. Knowing Pawel, it doesn't surprize me 8) . It was probably the one pause that kept writer's cramp at bay for Leonard :wink: . Seriously... a lovely encounter for both of you, Pawel. A forever reminder for you, too, Pawel, in that photo you did not take or have taken. Such is one's fate when sealed.

GREAT photos!! I love that one of you, Justyna 8) ... the perfect cd to have near your face... where it all began.

It's great seeing that pure spirit, Ksenia, in these photos... and that gorgeous paramour of hers. I know how much all of this means to you, Xenia.

Eija, you look like you're having a great time in that group shot. Something fun was going on there, too.

These are all so heartwarming. I love the new close-ups of Leonard and Anjani's faces. I'm so pleased with all these photos and reports!


~ Lizzy

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