Canadian icon Promises To “give everything we’ve got” In London Show
By James Reaney, The London Free Press
Tuesday, December 11, 2012 10:12:16 EST PM
Leonard Cohen performs at Budweiser Gardens on Tuesday night. (MIKE HENSEN, The London Free Press)
Maybe there was a corner of downtown London where a little bit of heaven prevailed on Tuesday night.
Whatever future generations make of the events at city hall on Dec. 11, 2012, it should also be recorded that on the same night a Budweiser Gardens crowd of about 5,500 fans stood up as a 78-year-old Canadian poet jogged briskly to centre stage to begin a concert expected to run more than three hours.
Whoever said poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the universe should have had Leonard Cohen in mind. When Cohen was done jogging Tuesday, it was time for a quick “thank you” and the man in the trademark fedora and suit to sing Dance Me To End of Love.
It also was a chance for Cohen to acknowledge his visits may become a rare thing in the future.
“If we don’t happen to meet that soon again,” Cohen said early in the set after expressing the hope that’s just what would occur, “we’re going to give everything we’ve got tonight.”
If that sounds like an admission mortality is on Cohen’s mind, there was many pointers in the opposite direction. Cohen moved around the stage, often getting down on one knee to sing.
“Thank you for that very warm welcome you gave us when came on to the stage,” Cohen said early.
If wasn’t just the audience, he saluted in the early going as The Future and Everybody Knows arrived in the first half hour.
Violin ace Alexandru Bublitchi was the first band member to receive a nod. Then Cohen doffed his fedora as electric guitarist Mitch Watkins took a lovely, Robbie Robertson-esque solo on an arrangement of Bird on the Wire that seemed to pay homage to The Band. Hammond B3 player Neil Larsen was saluted, too.
The singers — Sharon Robinson and Webb Sisters, Charlie and Hattie — were also named by the poet-singer-songwriter superstar as he looked to their side of the stage.
Acoustic, flamenco style guitarist Javier Mas had an extended solo to a hushed downtown London arena and won perhaps the ultimate Cohen accolade, a touch of the fedora.
All this attention to the band wasn’t just verbal. The big video screens spent a lot of time showcasing the musicians around Cohen even when he was hitting those low baritone murmurs no one else can find.
That’s democracy in action. Musical democracy anyway.
QMI Agency critics have traced Cohen’s return to the top with one saying it began to build when Hallelujah finally won the attention it deserved.
Cohen’s career was in a serious tailspin by the time he released his seventh album Various Positions in 1984. The first song on side two was a secular hymn called Hallelujah.
It emerged from semi-obscurity and now it’s the Cohen song many fans would vote for if they could hear him sing just one.
I also became an anthem for such stars as Bono, John Cale, Justin Timberlake, Bon Jovi and fellow Canadian star k.d. lang, who sang it at the opening of the 2010 Olympics and includes it in every concert.
Then, in 2004, news came to light that Cohen’s former lover and trusted business manager Kelley Lynch had pilfered $10 million of Cohen’s savings, leaving Cohen broke. As much as Cohen disliked touring, he had to replenish his retirement fund with another world tour.
The first comeback tour earned Cohen and company more than $50 million, QMI Agency figures show; that’s more money than he had earned in his whole career. Cohen was more popular than he’d ever been,
On Tuesday, Hallelujah’s time would be late in the second set if Cohen and company were keeping to the tour setlist.
Still, a Hallelujah chorus sometime before midnight — well, who wouldn’t want that?
Budweiser Gardens @BudGardens
So who out there was at Leonard Cohen last night? (Check out the note he left) We were fortunate to have him #ldnont pic.twitter.com/rXOYSLsL
MaryB wrote:Before he started 'Anyhow' he expanded on he wants to keep touring so he can start smoking when he's eighty....he doesn't want to do it alone, he wants to do it with his buddies. And then he went on, to the best of my memory, how he would be in a wheelchair, attended by a nurse, preferably female, she would bring him a fresh pack of cigarettes, he would ignore the warning label, which by that time will probably be flourescent and in 3D and he'd still ignore it.
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