Wed Apr 10 2013 01:03:00
Cohen at Copps
Dancing to the end of love …
The fact that Leonard Cohen is nominated for the Artist of the Year Juno alongside Justin Bieber demonstrates just how ludicrous awards’ shows can be.
The comparison between the 78-year-old poet and the 19-year-old pop star may seem laughable, but it’s got to be made. The folks who run the Juno Awards, which will be broadcast live from Regina on April 21, actually have these two “artists” nominated in the same category.
It’s The Bard vs. The Biebs (as well as Carly Rae Jepsen, Johnny Reid and Deadmau5).
As the 7,000 or so people who attended his remarkable concert at Copps Coliseum discovered Tuesday night – if they didn’t know already – Cohen is the true artist. Not just “artist of the year,” but artist for all of time.
Cohen trotted out on stage at 8:10 p.m. and literally skipped off it at 11:40, three-and-a-half hours later. He and his exceptionally talented nine-member backing ensemble performed 29 songs, including three sets of encores.
The first standing ovation began before he even had a chance to start his opening anthem, Dance Me To The End Of Love. There were several more to follow, as Cohen delved deep into his expansive repertoire of life, death, love, sex and the whole damn thing.
“I hope this is not a farewell tour,” Cohen said after the opening number. “I don’t know when we’ll meet again, but I promise that tonight we’ll give you everything we’ve got.”
He breezed through hallowed classics like Bird On A Wire, Ain’t No Cure For Love, First We Take Manhattan, Tower Of Song, I’m Your Man, So Long Marianne, Suzanne, Famous Blue Raincoat and the revered Hallelujah.
Just to prove that he’s still got plenty more songs in him, Cohen weaved in a half dozen entries from his latest CD, Old Ideas. The new material stood shoulder to shoulder with his better known work, especially Anyhow, a jazz-inspired song of not-so-deep regret, and Darkness, a bluesy howl that mines the black hole of depression.
Cohen’s sub-baritone delivery captured the essence of his poetry with stunning clarity, often from a kneeling position as if in prayer to an unseen muse.
Five years of rigorous touring has polished his stage show to a state of perfection. The stage patter is sometimes a bit too familiar and the set-lists are perhaps overly structured, but none of that really matters. Cohen’s graceful wit, unrehearsed humility easily wins over any audience. The man oozes old-school charm, even doffing his fedora and holding it to his chest when his three backing singers – The Webb Sisters and Sharon Robinson – took their solos.
Sure, Bieber can dance up a storm. But Cohen dances with his words. His songs are throbbing, unrelenting bites of both beauty and disfigurement.
To call Bieber an “artist” stretches the meaning of the word. He is a teen idol, teamed up with all the hit-making machinery the music business can offer.
Cohen is in a different class than the other nominated “artists.” Hopefully, the Juno voters have figured that out and, when the winner is announced April 21 for artist of the year, it will be The Bard accepting the award and not The Biebs.
905-526-3331 | @RockatTheSpec
Leonard Cohen at Copps Coliseum
Tuesday, April 9
Dance Me to the End of Love
Bird on the Wire
Who By Fire
Ain’t No Cure For Love
First We Take Manhattan
A Thousand Kisses Deep (recitation)
Tower of Song
Waiting for the Miracle
Show Me the Place
Lover Lover Lover
Alexandra leaving (sung by Sharon Robinson)
I’m Your Man
Take This Waltz
So Long Marianne
Famous Blue Raincoat
If It Be Your Will
Save the Last Dance
I Tried To Leave