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CONCERT REPORT: Hamilton, ON (June 3)

Posted: Wed Jun 04, 2008 4:16 pm
by stfa
Two nights in a row for me and even thought the setlist was identical I wish it would be 6 or 7 nights in a row for me!!!
Slightly different nuances tonight in both Leonard, (I thought Hallelujah was a bit more powerful in Hamilton) the band and the crowd but absolutely compelling from start to finish!!! I still can't believe he does 3 hour shows every night of the week.....just amazing!
Once again standing ovation after standing ovation.......I think he should do a tour someday just reciting poetry......Thousand Kisses Deep is such an incredible moment......the Webb sisters duet was particularly breathtaking last night.....
If you have even the slightest interest this show is a must see!
I hope they put out a cd or dvd, while I loved the 1993 tour........this one is far superior in all respects!!

Re: Hamilton June 3rd 2008

Posted: Wed Jun 04, 2008 4:45 pm
by captrenault
It was an excellent show. Leonard seemed to be enjoying himself, and we certainly did as well.

The music was very well done. There wasn’t anything new to the orchestration – it was all note for note what is on the albums, although he did change some of the lyrics around slightly. In terms of production, it was much better than ‘93, in that the mixers allowed Leonard’s voice to be front and centre, and not be overwhelmed by the instruments (the level on the drums was a vast improvement in particular), though I don't know how much that had to do with the better acoustics of Hamilton Place than the O'Keefe/Hummingbird/Sony where I saw him last) . His backup was first-rate, and while I appreciated the introductions to the band, they seemed to come after every solo, which disrupted the flow of the songs a bit.

Last night’s audience was appreciative and respectful, with hardly anyone singing along. A few people need to learn the art of concert shoutouts (especially that one woman who kept calling for “Dance Me To The End Of Love”, not realizing that that was the first song he played), but overall, no complaints. Some flash photography, but not too intrusive from where I was.

Leonard himself was more animated than I’ve seen him before, even doing some soft-shoe. He’s looking a touch older, moving about the stage like some slow and graceful egret. It was obvious that he enjoyed the interaction with the audience, and was appreciative of our attention.

If there was a downside (and I have to stretch to come up with one), it’s that there was a serious lack of merch. Two books and a few CDs, all of which we likely already have, and a half-size ‘World Tour’ poster for twenty bucks. I was prepared to drop a lot (more) cash, but found that I had nothing to spend it on.

An excellent evening. I look forward to seeing him again in Montreal.

Re: Hamilton June 3rd 2008

Posted: Wed Jun 04, 2008 4:56 pm
by captrenault
And the review in today's paper:
Hallelujah, Leonard finds his muse
Graham Rockingham
The Hamilton Spectator
(Jun 4, 2008)
I doubt that many of the 2,200 people who gathered at Hamilton Place last night came to see a singer.

They came instead to pay homage to a literary icon, a man who paints pictures with words, an artist who can stop you in your tracks with a single line of verse.

They were there to witness an event, one of the last hurrahs of an artist who makes you feel proud to be Canadian. Our very own Dylan, and more.

It was Leonard freakin' Cohen for Pete's sake, on stage right before our eyes.

Of course he's not a singer. We knew that 40 years ago when we first heard the Montreal-born poet mumble through Suzanne. Like a hypnotist's charm, Cohen's sonorous drone actually drew us closer to those majestic strings of words.

So when Cohen came out last night in his gray fedora and dark baggy suit, it came as no surprise that the sold-out crowd rose to a standing ovation.

He removed the hat, looking a little timid without it, clasped it to his chest and bowed. He spoke with warmth and appreciation, almost embarrassed that so many people would come out to see him perform.

"Thank you for that exceedingly warm welcome," he said. "Thank you for coming out in the rain ... and on a school night."

An extraordinary thing happened next. Cohen began to sing.

And, man, did he sing. Who knows what key his sub-baritone voice found, but he stuck to it unwaveringly through the night.

He sang for two-and-half hours (with one 20-minute intermission). He delivered some 20 songs including the encores, sounding better than he has on many of his later records.

If there was a crack in his voice the entire night, I don't remember it. And if there was a crack, it was only to let the light shine through (to paraphrase Anthem, the song he closed the first set with.)

Nobody cringed at Cohen's funereal croak. It was what they had come for. They bathed in it. Cohen was magnificent.

He opened the concert with his 1984 song, Dance Me To The End of Love, singing it as an exhortation for his audience, as much as his muse, to help him through the show.

Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin

Dance me through the panic til I'm gathered safely in

Lift me like an olive branch and be my homeward dove

Dance me to the end of love...

At 73 years of age, the great poet didn't look a day over 60. He was in fighting trim, standing throughout the show, bending into the microphone, his knees swaying to the music.

He even treated the audience to an amusing little shuffle in the "white man dance" line of his apocalyptic song of repent, The Future. When the second set opened, he actually jogged onto the stage.

And, yes, he still exuded that sexy allure, an impeccably polite lady's man to the end, drawing them in with that unspeakable mystique.

"It's been 15 years since I stood up a stage," he confessed to the audience before pacing into Ain't No Cure For Love. "I was 60 years old then, just a kid with a crazy dream. Since then I've taken a lot of Prozac ... How have you been?"

Sure, he had a remarkable band backing him up, six masterful musicians and three wonderful female singers (including the sisters Charlie and Hatty Webb, who he repeatedly referred to as "sublime" as he glanced toward them, perhaps a little too lasciviously).

But he never gave up centre stage, even when long-time writing partner Sharon Robinson joined him for a duet on the delightful Boogie Street.

Bassist and musical director Roscoe Beck and drummer Rafael Gayol kept a rhythm perfectly paced for Cohen's phrasing.

It wasn't all phrasing, however. Cohen's voice actually soared to unimagined heights (which were actually fairly low, come to think of it) through the chorus of Hallelujah and the passionate I'm Your Man.

Neil Larsen, a veteran session player who has played with the likes of George Harrison, Kenny Loggins and Rickie Lee Jones, deftly backed him on a B3 Hammond organ, while Bob Metzger offered up delicate leads on electric and steel pedal guitars. At the edge of the stage, Javier Mas ran through sundry stringed instruments of near-Eastern origin, while Dino Soldo took turns on saxophone, keyboards, winds and vocals.

At this stage in his life, Cohen is supposed to be getting kind of tired. But he didn't look it last night, even in the midst of an international tour that continues tonight with another sold out concert at Hamilton Place before moving on to Toronto for four more shows at the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts. Apparently there are still tickets for June 9.

Re: Hamilton June 3rd 2008

Posted: Wed Jun 04, 2008 6:43 pm
by John K.
I had purposefully watched as few of the youtube clips and read as few of the forum posts as I could before seeing Mr. Cohen in concert last night. It was my third time seeing him in live performance, following 1985 and 1993.

The concert last night surpassed my high expectations, by a mile. It was most likely the best concert experience of my life, I'll have to let a bit of time go by to see how it settles in my memory.

The performers were remarkable, and all were very into the music they were playing. It made it that much better.

There were too many highlights to start listing them. When one has a catalog as deep as Leonard Cohen, it must make picking set lists easy, since every song is going to be great. No doubt, every song was great. This man was God's gift to the world of music. Oh Lord, I'm crying again as I write this.

I have a 15 minute drive to work after dropping my son off at pre-school, and naturally I thought about last night during that time. I cried nearly the whole way in to work today. I was so blessed the day I discovered the music of Leonard Cohen, and I've been so blessed the last 30 years. Thank you Mr. Cohen for making my life better than it would have been otherwise.

Also, thanks to Joe and Anne Way, and Mr. and Mrs. Blonde Madonna, who were delightful company before and after the concert. Lisa "loves" her souvenier Brazilian beer t-shirt, and very much appreciated being woken up to see it!


John K.

Re: Hamilton June 3rd 2008

Posted: Wed Jun 04, 2008 8:24 pm
by -carly-
Saw the show last night.
It was my first time seing Leonard, I'm a little bit young spud to see him in earlier years.
I just have to say that it was incredible.
What a honour to see such a legend. I've enjoy both his poetry, novels and music for a while and it was a spectacular show to hear both his song and spoken word so nicely intertwined.
My favourite parts of the evening...
Hallelujah- I'd have to agree was very powerful... very moving. It was just beautiful.
I definitely got chills.
Suzanne- I loved that it was stripped down. It was a beautiful arrangement. Couldn't have ask for me.
A thousand kisses deep gave me chills. I wanted more!

In terms of production... I felt that it was (at times) a little over-produced.
Like someone mentioned above... the band sometimes took away from the song.
It would have been cool to see more of just LC and a guitar with some back-up vocals.
However, with that said the band did a solid job.

An excellent evening.
One I will remember for a lifetime.
Absolutely extraordinary.
If you have a chance... don't miss this opportunity to go see a man use has made countless contributions to Canadian music and literature.

Re: Hamilton June 3rd 2008

Posted: Wed Jun 04, 2008 8:58 pm
by elaine_pettit
I've waited 40 years to see Leonard Cohen live. Last night in Hamilton was indescribable. It was sold out, I had to buy from e-bay, but the box office did have a couple of tickets still available an hour before the show - so it's worth checking at the theatre on the day if you are still looking.

Re: Hamilton June 3rd 2008

Posted: Thu Jun 05, 2008 12:10 am
by Olya
The rain was so fitting that evening..
And I loved the "Thanks for coming out tonight folks, in the rain and on a school night".

It was such an emotional couple of hours..
"I'm sentimental, if you know what I mean" - he brings laughter through tears...I was swallowing his words and presence not wanting to forget it, ever. I scribbled down the few things he said.

Re: Hamilton June 3rd 2008

Posted: Thu Jun 05, 2008 1:19 am
by krewechief

Re: Hamilton June 3rd 2008

Posted: Thu Jun 05, 2008 4:07 am
by zintman61
krewechief wrote:The Future
A Thousand Kisses Deep
Waiting for the Miracle to Come

a couple more at my blog

Thanks for those...appreciated!

Perhaps now I can enjoy the show!

I had the insane woman directly in front of me who kept yelling "DANCE ME TO THE END OF LOVE"...that was aside from when she was talking out loud to no one in particular...or speaking random words from the lyrics out loud at any given moment,like this .. "DEMOCRACY...YES!".
Plus you couldn't help but sit there and watch her flail in her seat and stretch her arms in front of other people's faces..."WALTZ....YES!"

But slightly to my right was the nice gentleman who held his camera up high to watch the show through the screen all wasn't TOO blinding on the eyes...and that's when he wasn't taking flash photos.

And the two ladies directly behind me who giggled at everything...apparantly even the Thousand Kisses Deep recitation was giggle worthy as well....tee hee.


And the man a little further back who seemed to feel that attending the performance with the whooping cough was acceptable.

And the gentelman in the upper balcony who took it upon himself to continually yell THANK YOOOOOOU on our behalf...perhaps he felt Leonard doesn't understand the concept of applause?

And the onslaught of disgusting flashbulbs all night long,and the ushers who did absolutely nothing to stop the people who were holding their illuminous recording devices high..just high enough to distract one's eye from the stage.

And the capper...the young lady beside who didn't dab a little perfume behind her ears,she bathed in it.A fellow concert goer four seats down was holding her nose,her eyes watering...that's how strong it was.It was literally robbing me of breath.

flash flash HOOT......WOOOOO....THANK YOOOOOOOOU....flash flash


cough cough cough


That's how the ENTIRE evening played out for me.

I would be lying if I didn't say I was disgusted.

Thank God I saw the Kitchener concert the night was a superior performance with flawless audio mix from beginning to end. Sorry,but there were noticeable audio glitches in Hamilton (hard truth is the mix in Hamilton wasn't spot on until Democracy).

Not sure if I was at the same gig in Hamilton as some of the reviewers...but these rousing ovations I'm reading about in Hamilton,half of them were lacklustre with only a portion of the crowd actually bothering to stand.
By the first intermission everyone I went with (both nights) were saying the vibe wasn't the same in Hamilton,and there wasn't the same symbiotic connection between the band and audience that was evident in Kitchener.
In Kitchener Bob Metzger stood there groovin and snapping his fingers when he wasn't playing.
There were knowing glances between band members that they were REALLY having an A+ on the money night...there were even a few on stage all knowing hugs.
In Hamilton there was none of that.
Not the same vibe...oh well.
Can't have perfection every night.
Not knocking anyone's good time,just stating the facts,Hamilton night one was B+ at best...Kitchener was superb,game on A+
(pretty sure the band would tell you the same)

But yeah...thanks for the MP3's...cheers.

You people with your flashes are REALLY bloody disgustingly selfish and rude!

Re: Hamilton June 3rd 2008

Posted: Thu Jun 05, 2008 5:20 am
by moon river
Hi ZIntman..........Sorry Hamilton was so frustrating. I was also in Kitcherner and my wife mentioned that it was the best concert she has ever seen. We were high in the Mezz , but when the his voice was first heard over the chords of "Dance Me To The End Of Love", I could sense my eyes welling up with tears. He could reach us from that distance. The whooping and flashes throughout the evening were minimal. We did see Cohen in London, Ont in 1993 and I tend to agree that the man only improves with age.

Hey, you managed to snag a poster and remember... you'll always have Kitchener!! :D

Re: Hamilton June 3rd 2008

Posted: Thu Jun 05, 2008 12:29 pm
by Steve Wilcox
After reading zintman61's post (wow!) I feel like venting also. Admittedly this is simply a rant which is not necessary here but . . . . [sorry for smudging the forum with this rant]

At my first two shows (Fredericton and Halifax) recording and photography were prohibited and the ushers' vigilant. Yes people still did it, but very discretely - no flashes - blue screens covered up. No problems.

At my third show in Glace Bay, everything went - full flash and video cameras held high (for all to see). Even being in the second row, meaning the flashes occurred behind us, they were still very distracting. And the two people to my left and right in the first row videoed all night. It's nice they have this keepsake they can review later because I doubt they have much for first hand memories of the night having watched it on a 2 inch screen.

Lastly, a young man continually left his seat, went to the stage, and took pictures across the bow - left, right and center. Unbelievable but apparently allowed as ushers did nothing.

A friend of mine just returned from LA where he saw Chris Rock. At one point an audience member grabbed another's cell phone camera and threw it 50 feet into the aisle, tired of looking at it! At another point a fist fight broke out because someone wouldn't stop yelling stuff.

Likely not fitting solution for "An Evening With Leonard Cohen".

Re: Hamilton June 3rd 2008

Posted: Thu Jun 05, 2008 2:44 pm
by zintman61
I found out last night that one of the people I went to the first Hamilton concert with phoned the venue to complain about the ushers not stopping people from filming and CONTINUALLY using their flashes.
In Kitchener the ushers came right up to people and told them to stop.For the most part they did.Once people realized the ushers were being vigilant,it became mostly occasional discreet photography without flashes...that I don't have a problem with.

The staff member on the phone at Hamilton Place said she had been hearing the same complaint all day long.Apparantly it's been a major issue about the show,the flashes going off all night long while the ushers just stood there.

Re: Hamilton June 3rd 2008

Posted: Thu Jun 05, 2008 4:24 pm
by captrenault
No audience problems where I was, frankly. Aside from the woman who kept calling for "Dance Me to the End of Love", when he'd played it already.

Picture-taking was big at the start (natch), but pretty much died down after. Some picture-taking without flash, but even that was restricted to when the stage was lit up in yellow and at its brightest.

A couple of months ago, I saw Feist at HP, and then the photography was simply unreal (people taking photos of shadow puppetry? What?). Compared to that, this was nothing at all.

I'm still curious as to what happened to have that kid brought off on a stretcher, though...

Re: Hamilton June 3rd 2008

Posted: Thu Jun 05, 2008 7:07 pm
by stfa
krewechief wrote:The Future
A Thousand Kisses Deep
Waiting for the Miracle to Come

a couple more at my blog
(spoiler warning for future concert goers!!)

Thanks much!!! It was great to hear those again! I was lucky enough to get the setlists from Kitchener and from the Hamilton show you went to. You are right about Passing Through, The bottom of the setlist lists:
Avalanche, Hey That's no Way to Say Goodbye, One of Us Cannot Be Wrong, There is a War, Famous Blue Raincoat, Passing Through, Sisters of Mercy and The Partisan

The Kitchener list had Miracle as an alternate too (twice on the sheet with different keys for each!!!), but by Hamilton it was only in the main section.

Re: Hamilton June 3rd 2008

Posted: Thu Jun 05, 2008 7:25 pm
by stfa
I agree that in some ways the Kitchener show was better but I had MUCH better seats and it was the first I had seen of him live since 1993 so there was a stronger emotional impact!.....from where I was in Kitchener there were also lot of people trying to "be part of the show" (although some of them I think really want to express their gratitude to such a great man) but even before he started singing there were yahoos trying to be heard and acknowledged..... I always find that selfish and annoying.......again I would give the edge to Kitchener mostly because of my seats and the emotional impact.

In Hamilton, I guess I was lucky enough to avoid most of your "fellow concertgoers".....thank goodness....I was quite a way back on the floor but didn't really notice the flashes (did see a few bluescreens though.....cover them up guys) but really once the show started I was completely focussed on Leonard (and sometimes the band). At the start of the show I thought the overall sound level was much much quieter than Kitchener and this may have added to the noticeability of the distractions........and the inevitable audience"This message has been classified as spam and will be deleted by the moderators" comment was more or less ignored in Kitchener but it did make for a funny reaction in Hamilton. Some of this is luck of seating I guess, in my location people were standing almost instantly. Enjoyed both thoroughly would love to hear about the second night in Hamilton!!!!