CONCERT REPORTS: Ottawa, Ontario, May 25 and 26

USA and Canada (April 1 - June 4, 2009). Special concert for fans in NYC (February 19). Concert reports, set lists, photos, media coverage, multimedia links, recollections...
stfa
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CONCERT REPORTS: Ottawa, Ontario, May 25 and 26

Postby stfa » Tue May 26, 2009 4:40 pm

Review from Ottawa Sun today:

The master of seduction
Leonard Cohen's songs of the spirit and flesh gain new meaning in a magnificent performance
By DENIS ARMSTRONG

Leonard Cohen skipped onto the Southam Hall stage, knelt on one knee as if proposing marriage and sang Dance Me to the End of Love.

Not only was it a surprisingly spry move on the part of the 74-year-old poet, singer and former Buddhist monk, but it was also a fitting indication of what was to come in the first of two concerts at the National Arts Centre's Southam Hall last night.

Few songwriters have captured spiritual yearning and fired the erotic imagination like Cohen.

But now, as the senior high priest of love songs showed a remarkable durability as a charismatic interpreter of his own songs of the flesh and of the spirit, it's clear that his poetic reach has only intensified with age.

Wearing a chic black suit and fedora and ably backed by the soft jazz ensemble of Javier Mas on bandurria and laud, Dino Soldo on winds, guitarist Bob Metzer, Raphael Bernardo Diode on drums, Neil Larson on keyboards, bassist Roscoe Beck and three singers, it was apparent that Cohen is relishing the opportunity to perform again.

It wasn't supposed to be this good. Cohen only reluctantly agreed to do concerts after being defrauded out of $5 million, leaving him nearly bankrupt.

But instead of relying on the goodwill of his fans, Cohen delved deep into the music, performing with the energy and surprisingly potent musical imagination that often illuminated even familiar songs such as Who By Fire with new and sometimes disturbing meanings.

Here was Cohen the elder, no longer the singer of earnest love songs, but the wise old man fondly remembering the romance of youth.

With a voice like granite and dramatic timing, it didn't take Cohen long to seduce an already enraptured audience, singing the cautionary tale of The Future and the warm R&B There Ain't No Cure for Love. There was a hint of the younger Cohen in his plaintive vocal prime on Bird on a Wire, declaiming Everybody Knows, the sermon of My Secret Life, and inspired versions of Who By Fire and Chelsea Hotel #2 that sounded sweeter with time.

He barely spoke throughout the set, other than to thank the fans for coming, and joking about getting old.

Cohen was less introspective in the second half, which he began at the keyboard to play Tower of Song, Suzanne, and included Hallelujah.

Cohen's concert turned out to be much more than a night of fond nostalgia. It was an epic performance by a skilled poet.

Leonard Cohen performs again tonight at the NAC at 8 p.m.

LEONARD COHEN
The National Arts Centre
Sun Rating: 5 out of 5

HERE is the link - http://www.ottawasun.com/entertainment/ ... 1-sun.html
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Mollydog
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Re: CONCERT REPORT: Ottawa, Ontario May 25th and 26th

Postby Mollydog » Tue May 26, 2009 5:14 pm

Review from the Ottawa Citizen.

Rebirth of a Ladies' Man: Cohen wows Ottawa audience

By Chris Cobb, The Ottawa Citizen
OTTAWA — Hats off to Leonard Cohen.

Which would be a rather lame introduction if the Cohen concert wasn't such a hat thing.

Hats are the props – a simple but clever device that Cohen uses to emphasize the slightly old-fashioned gentleman crooner he has fashioned himself into.

He doffs his hat often to pay individual tributes to his musicians and singers — as well he might — and to his audience who, at the NAC last night, were too busy showering him with love to notice.

But it takes more than hats to rocket an aging musical poet to the dizzying career heights Cohen is currently enjoying. He’s hotter now than he’s ever been.

There has to be a reason why Cohen has left a legacy of breathless reviews and near unanimous adulation across the planet during his travels this past year or more.

Yet it’s a puzzle to many why Canada’s most famous ladies man has suddenly become one of the most sought out acts on the concert circuit and can sell t-shirts for $45 and other paraphernalia for similarly inflated, rock-and-roll prices.

There has been no new hot disc to shoot him up the charts and, if you discount the ubiquitous Hallelujah done by others, he has never had a mega hit to speak of.

Sure, the stars of fame and celebrity often align in mysterious ways, but after witnessing Cohen and his fabulous band perform for three hours, the answer becomes stunningly obvious:

It’s the songs dummy.

He runs onto the stage in defiance of his 74 years and launches into Dance Me to the End of Love. From that point its one beautifully crafted song after another.

To the Cohen aficionado, they are all familiar:

Who Shall I Say is Calling?, Bird on A Wire, Famous Blue Raincoat, Suzanne, Sisters of Mercy, Tower of Song, Marianne, Take This Waltz and Chelsea Hotel, his ode to Janis Joplin.

And many more.

Cohen’s singing voice, never up to much in a conventional sense, has grown deeper and gruffer. But he has always been smart in his hiring of the finest female singing talent to complement his own unique vocal styling.

His long-time collaborator Sharon Robinson and the Webb Sisters are his singing “angels” — his word — on this tour, his first in this neck of the woods for almost 20 years.

The songs are the substance, but the style his musicians give them are why these concerts have brought Cohen such great acclaim.

The band Cohen clearly admires is Roscoe Beck (bass, vocals), Neil Larsen (keyboards & Hammond B3 accordion), Bob Metzger (electric, acoustic and pedal steel guitar), Javier Mas (bandurria, laud, archilaud, 12-string acoustic guitar), Rafael Gayol (drums, percussion) and Dino Soldo (sax, clarinet, dobro, keyboards).

Cohen doesn’t take himself totally seriously. He’s obviously having fun onstage and while he makes the odd crack about his age, thankfully he doesn’t dwell on the subject.

The show has a few surprises but not a great deal of spontaneity and except for a wry comment or two, the minimum of banter from Cohen.

After many months on the road, it’s well-honed, precise and entirely delightful.

Ask the Monday night audience.

Then again, when the people give a performer a standing ovation just for walking onstage, the battle for their hearts and minds is already won.

It’s a privileged position for any artist to occupy and one that Leonard Cohen deserves more than most.

(Cohen’s second Ottawa concert is Tuesday night at the NAC. The show is sold out.)

© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen

http://www.ottawacitizen.com/Rebirth+La ... story.html
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thermoman
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Re: CONCERT REPORTS: Ottawa, Ontario May 25th and 26th

Postby thermoman » Tue May 26, 2009 7:07 pm

On Sunday morning I had the pleasure of cheering on a multitude of septagenerians who were running the Ottawa marathon. On Monday evening I also was cheering on another grey beard who was also participating in his own post retirement marathon. My hat goes off to all who live life to the max.

Leonard dazzled but it was the well honed group of excellent musicians around him that brought depth to his music and sustained the 3 hours of joy that filled the National Arts Center. The legendary repertoire of songs were all skillfully played, many with fresh arrangements that far exceeded the original studio versions and those from the 80's and 90's tours. The lighting was dramatic and yet did not upstage the musical performance of each musician but rather focused attention to the appropriate performer. The National Arts Center audiences are generally a more subdued crowd than most concerts venues and they kept true to form. Preference to listen to the music and not disturb the listening pleasure of others during songs is not a bad thing. Appreciation is provided at appropriate times between songs. Singing along to all the familiar songs is left to only the few with little self consciousness and regard for their fellow concert goers.

There was little between song banter and the performance moved at a very good pace. A definite change from earlier performances in Canada last year. The set list from last year has been modified with new numbers that are true show stoppers. Two that come to mind are "The Partisan" and "If It Be Your Will". The arrangements of these songs takes them into the sphere of magical musical and lyrical moments that bring a tear to an eye and a shiver up one's spine. Set list main stays like "I'm Your Man" and "A Thousand Kisses Deep" continue to promote Leonard's reputation as a ladies man and stir primal emotions. It is the musical arrangement of the signature piece "Hallelujah" that allows Leonard to take possession of his song again after so many years. The combined efforts of all the musicians, lighting crew and support staff make the entire night three to four hours of emotional and musical bliss. There are few performances that would be allowed to exceed the NAC's rigid 11:00 PM curfew. It takes the reputation and daring of Leonard and his musical program to go a full 20 minutes beyond.

Sincere compliments to all who have made this tour possible. Stay young in spirit and healthy in body and who knows what beauty you and others will see in that illuminated hyperbolic mirror that life puts in front of you from time to time.
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sturgess66
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Re: CONCERT REPORTS: Ottawa, Ontario May 25th and 26th

Postby sturgess66 » Tue May 26, 2009 7:11 pm

Two more wonderful reviews. Denis Armstrong in the Ottawa Sun has Raphael Bernardo Diode playing drums. Who is that? :) The Ottawa Sun has the correct name - Rafael Gayol.

Denis Armstrong uses the word "epic" in describing the show in Ottawa last night ("an epic performance".) And I doubt it would be going out on a limb to predict that there will be more of the same tonight! But beyond these two shows, I think this has been an epic tour - this 2009 North American tour. And I feel blessed to have experienced a little bit of it. Leonard Cohen himself has been magnificent. The show is a class act from the beginning to the end - 3+ hours later - from Leonard to his fine musicians and singers to the staging and, no doubt, to all those people who Leonard Cohen thanks at the end! Audiences have left these shows touched to the core. This show has found "the magic." The finest of musicians and singers can perform together and the resulting performance will be "fine" or "excellent." And that can be enough - I guess. But it is a whole different level when artists come together and find the magic. It is not a "given" - it is not something that can be manufactured - it doesn't happen all the time. I would say that there is no doubt that it has happened here.
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Re: CONCERT REPORTS: Ottawa, Ontario May 25th and 26th

Postby AlieKatt » Tue May 26, 2009 7:24 pm

I will be attending tonights concert, the 26th. I can't wait to see him. I've waited my whole life for this moment. Cetre stage 3 rows back- I'll be there Leonard!

Hoping he sings If it be your will....
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bridger15
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Re: CONCERT REPORTS: Ottawa, Ontario May 25th and 26th

Postby bridger15 » Tue May 26, 2009 8:04 pm

thermoman wrote:There are few performances that would be allowed to exceed the NAC's rigid 11:00 PM curfew. It takes the reputation and daring of Leonard and his musical program to go a full 20 minutes beyond.
I think there is also another factor, for which we must give credit to the AEG promoter, (something we rarely do on this Forum). I believe there is an extra premium charged (union overtime rules, etc) for a production to stay on stage beyond 11pm.
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sturgess66
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Re: CONCERT REPORTS: Ottawa, Ontario May 25th and 26th

Postby sturgess66 » Tue May 26, 2009 8:48 pm

thermoman - I was typing away with my post while you posted, but then, after I posted, was glad to see your special mention of, amongst other things, the arrangements for the songs. Yes! And, of course, let us not forget the people who take care of the hats. :)

And yes Bridger - you are right - kudos and thanks to whoever or whatever was involved in enabling these shows to "unfold" gracefully, without being crushed and bruised by time constraints and union rules.

So, there were rogue soloists in the audience last night, unable or unwilling to contain themselves in spite of the venue! :lol: :lol: I'm laughing - but, yeah, it can be mighty irritating to neighbours. I am familiar with with National Arts Centre having played with the orchestra there for a number of years (NACO - sounds sort of like the drug enforcement agency :lol: ) - including the night that PM Pierre Elliot Trudeau appeared in a box with Barbra Streisand, his date for the evening. Long time ago now. But - a wonderful venue. I wish I were there to see these shows!

Looking forward to reading more comments here.
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Mollydog
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Re: CONCERT REPORTS: Ottawa, Ontario May 25th and 26th

Postby Mollydog » Tue May 26, 2009 9:27 pm

I'm not one to sing along, but at all the concerts I had been to before last night pretty well everyone sang along to the chorus of So Long Marianne. Last night I started singing and then looked around me to find not one other person was singing.

So, fellow Ottawa concert goers. Let's have a bit more action tonight! :D
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Re: CONCERT REPORTS: Ottawa, Ontario May 25th and 26th

Postby anneporter » Tue May 26, 2009 9:34 pm

If I was there I'd sing with you, Mary. You'll need a few Newfoundlanders to rant and roar. Have fun!
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Re: CONCERT REPORTS: Ottawa, Ontario May 25th and 26th

Postby bridger15 » Tue May 26, 2009 9:51 pm

Mollydog wrote:I'm not one to sing along, but at all the concerts I had been to before last night pretty well everyone sang along to the chorus of So Long Marianne. Last night I started singing and then looked around me to find not one other person was singing.

So, fellow Ottawa concert goers. Let's have a bit more action tonight!
I think it is an issue of personal differences and culture. I am not a "sing along" concert goer. It's not in my culture. I attend his concerts to focus on the Maestro and his marvellous troupe. I become entranced, perhaps I am IN A TRANCE as I am sure others are too. The only encouragement given to the audience to participate is when Raphael raises his sticks and "instructs us" to clap in time. That I always do.
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Re: CONCERT REPORTS: Ottawa, Ontario May 25th and 26th

Postby anneporter » Tue May 26, 2009 10:04 pm

bridger15,
I actually didn't sing when I saw Leonard Cohen in concert, for some of the same reasons as you, (as I wrote about in my concert report a year ago when this all began) even though musical participation is part of my culture and my nature. But I would sing along (if invited) with Mary, for sure, even in Ottawa.

viewtopic.php?f=28&t=11161&st=0&sk=t&sd ... 30#p122226
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Mollydog
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Re: CONCERT REPORTS: Ottawa, Ontario May 25th and 26th

Postby Mollydog » Tue May 26, 2009 10:45 pm

I'm not a big fan of people singing along either. In fact I've been at concerts where I could easily have strangled the person sitting beside me who was continually singing. However, So Long Marianne lends itself so well to the audience joining in with the chorus.

Mary
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Re: CONCERT REPORTS: Ottawa, Ontario May 25th and 26th

Postby sanneka » Tue May 26, 2009 11:05 pm

Several years ago I saw on U-tube a small show with "Leonard Cohen and Friends" singing So long Marianne, I was so envious and thought to myself how wonderful it would be to be able to see Leonard Cohen live and join in singing that song. I never imagined that it would ever happend, but it did, last summer, almost a year ago, my big wish came through, I saw L.C. in concert here in Denmark. Danes are usually cool and reserved and also at this concert did they enjoy most of the concert in silence, but when it came to "so long Marianne" everybody (including me) sang. Next to Hallelujah and A thousand kisses deep, it was the the most incredible experience in my life (and I am pretty old)
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bridger15
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Re: CONCERT REPORTS: Ottawa, Ontario May 25th and 26th

Postby bridger15 » Tue May 26, 2009 11:10 pm

anneporter wrote:bridger15,
I actually didn't sing when I saw Leonard Cohen in concert, for some of the same reasons as you, (as I wrote about in my concert report a year ago when this all began) even though musical participation is part of my culture and my nature.

viewtopic.php?f=28&t=11161&st=0&sk=t&sd ... 30#p122226
Anne: Excellent early tour report! You echoed my own reaction exactly. I recommend your report link to all Forum newcomers like I am. As this is the OTTAWA thread, I don't want to take up any more space. I just would like to express my admiration and say thank you.
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Re: CONCERT REPORTS: Ottawa, Ontario May 25th and 26th

Postby bridger15 » Tue May 26, 2009 11:22 pm

Mollydog wrote:I'm not a big fan of people singing along either. In fact I've been at concerts where I could easily have strangled the person sitting beside me who was continually singing. However, So Long Marianne lends itself so well to the audience joining in with the chorus.
Mary: You seem to have sparked a subject of great interest. Perhaps you should start a new thread and "Let Us Compare Mythologies" of singing along ot not singing along at a Leonard Cohen concert.
Another example of why this Forum is such an extraordinary entity. Thank you, Jarkko, for your vision.
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