CONCERT REPORTS: Manchester, UK (June 17, 18, 19 and 20)

Canada and Europe (May 11 - August 3, 2008). Concert reports, set lists, photos, media coverage, multimedia links, recollections...
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Re: Manchester, UK (June 17-20)

Post by sirius » Sun Jun 22, 2008 2:16 am

A truly transcendental moment that echoed in Eternity

I was privileged to be at the Thursday June 19th concert
at The Opera House Manchester with my wife Jenny,
son George and daughter Sophia.

A truly transcendental moment that echoed in Eternity.
Leonard Cohen has achieved that remote human possibility
of which he spoke of in his novel Beautiful Losers;
"A saint is someone who has achieved a remote human
possibility. It is impossible to say what that possibility is. I think
it has something to do with the energy of love."

The energy of love was transmitted and received by the open hearted.

Peter S
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Re: Manchester, UK (June 17-20)

Post by sirius » Sun Jun 22, 2008 2:17 am

"What is a saint? A saint is someone who has achieved a remote human
possibility. It is impossible to say what that possibility is. I think
it has something to do with the energy of love. Contact with this
energy results in the exercise of a kind of balance in the chaos of
existence. A saint does not dissolve the chaos; if he did the world
would have changed long ago. I do not think that a saint dissolves the
chaos even for himself, for there is something arrogant and warlike in
the notion of a man setting the universe in order. It is a kind of
balance that is his glory. He rides the drifts like an escaped ski.
His course is the caress of the hill. His track is a drawing of the
snow in a moment of its particular arrangement with wind and rock.
Something in him so loves the world that he gives himself to the laws
of gravity and chance. Far from flying with the angels, he traces with
the fidelity of a seismograph needle the state of the solid bloody
landscape. His house is dangerous and finite, but he is at home in the
world. He can love the shape of human beings, the fine and twisted
shapes of the heart. It is good to have among us such men, such
balancing monsters of love."

- Leonard. Cohen, Beautiful Losers (1966)
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Re: Manchester, UK (June 17-20)

Post by dick » Sun Jun 22, 2008 3:53 am

Thanks Gina and others for sharing your joy!

Our turn once again next week in Monteal --

to quote Vonnegut (his uncle actually) -- "can it get any better than this?"

Let's all continue to be aware of just how blessed we are!

dick and linda
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Re: Manchester, UK (June 17-20)

Post by Joe Way » Sun Jun 22, 2008 5:18 am

I've meant to post these words before, but this whole tour reminds me so much of Keats' poem, "To Autumn"
to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.

As we move into summer now, let's remember how blessed we are with this tour.

"Say a prayer for the cowboy..."
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Re: Manchester, UK (June 17-20)

Post by sirius » Sun Jun 22, 2008 2:43 pm

Leonard Cohen at Manchester Opera House - the Sunday Times review

From The Sunday Times
June 22, 2008

Leonard Cohen at the Manchester Opera House
Robert Sandall ... 173526.ece

Arriving on the stage at the Manchester Opera House for his first British dates in 15 years, Leonard Cohen immediately apologised for “putting some of you to such geographic and financial inconvenience”.

He had a point: the £75 tickets were a bit pricey, even by modern standards, and the fact that Cohen is playing only a handful of dates in Manchester, Edinburgh and London, and a headlining slot at Glastonbury, won’t have made life easy for his fans in, say, Norwich or Aberdeen.

Still, you couldn’t help feeling that the person who had probably been most inconvenienced by Leonard Cohen’s 2008 world tour was Cohen himself. After winding down his concert work in 1996, he went to live in a Zen Buddhist retreat in California for five years, but his plans to spend his old age mulling over koans and making the odd record with nubile playmates such as his latest, Anjani Thomas, had drastically to be revised in 2005, when it emerged that he had been swindled out of his $5m retirement nest egg by his former manager, Kelley Lynch.

And so it came to pass that, three years later, rock’s oldest living legend — 74 this year — has embarked on what will almost certainly be the last tour of his remarkable career.

Not that he showed any signs of frailty or ennui during last Tuesday’s three-hour show. He frequently adopted the Cohen Crouch — a crumpled, knock-kneed stance in which he appeared to be singing into his shirt. And his growl of a voice had lost none of its subterranean accuracy, pitching at depths that most people barely recognise as notes. His concern for the wellbeing of his three female backing singers — whom he sidled over to and introduced by name at every opportunity — suggested that the death of this notorious ladies’ man is still some way off. It was delightful, too, to watch Cohen basking in the adoration of the crowd, greeting their delirious applause with elaborate old-fashioned thank-yous for “your kind attention” or — even more bizarrely, given what they’d paid for their seats — “your hospitality”.

Dressed in a plain grey suit and a fedora, which he kept removing, holding to his chest or waving around to tremendous theatrical effect, Cohen led his nine-piece band through a recital of 24 of his best-known songs. They ranged evenly across his 40 years as a recording artist, from the earnest love ballads he favoured in his youth, such as That’s No Way to Say Goodbye, to the more witty and sardonic style he perfected in his later years, of which the most effective on the night was Closing Time, a faux-country evocation of a drunkenly lascivious scene in a small-town bar.

The biggest cheer of the evening was reserved for Hallelujah, the song that has become Cohen’s signature in recent years, and which topped the US iTunes chart earlier this year after it was performed by a contestants on the television talent show American Idol.

The revelation of the concert wasn’t so much the music, beautifully performed as it was by a lightly amplified band who never put a foot wrong, but the persona of the man himself. Age hasn’t so much mellowed Cohen as made him much, much funnier. It's hard to credit that this twinkly-eyed old jester, who reminded us at one point that “the last time I was here, I was just a 60-year-old kid with a crazy dream”, used, not so long ago, to be regarded as a depressive. How could we have carried on thinking such a thing about the author of this line from Democracy: “I’m stubborn as those garbage bags that time will not decay”?

Well, bin that. As Cohen returned for his third encore and launched into I Tried to Leave You, the auditorium erupted with mirth. Like all the best comics, the man who used to be mockingly referred to as “Laughing Len” kept a meticulously straight face throughout, thanked us again for our kind attention, replaced the fedora and wandered contentedly off.
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Re: Manchester, UK (June 17-20)

Post by sirius » Sun Jun 22, 2008 2:49 pm

Leonard Cohen, Opera House, Manchester

At 73, Leonard Cohen can still put on a hell of show

Rock review by Simon Price

Sunday, 22 June 2008

I think I've seen them all now. Not one of the pantheon of towering legends has eluded me. The ones who didn't die young, anyway. Leonard Cohen has always occupied a paradoxical place in the scheme of things: the world's most overground underground singer, the most popular of the unpopular, the most mainstream of the cult, the biggest of the little guys.

Dying young, for Leonard Cohen, was not an option: he wasn't young to begin with. Already 33 when his first album came out in 1967, to the hippie generation his role was that of a wiser elder brother played by Dustin Hoffman, teaching them harsh truths about love and sex, and providing a handbook for every bedsit beatnik and boho Romeo for whom the words "We are ugly, but we have the music" provided succour. No single male's record collection in the Seventies was complete without Cohen's little boom-tish-tish, three-strums-to-the-bar confessionals, waltzes from the edge of a candlewick bedspread. Now 73, the icon of introspection is performing in the UK for the first time in well over a decade, at a trailblazer for next year's Manchester International Festival. "Back then," he jokes, "I was 60 years old, just a kid with a crazy dream." The circumstances may not be the happiest (he's reportedly been forced back on the road after being ripped off by a manager), but those of us who get to tick him off our wish list aren't complaining.

From the start of a generous three-hour set, it's clear that Cohen's reputation as a doom-monger is misplaced. Many of his songs provide their own punchlines: "I fought against the bottle/But I had to do it drunk" is a supreme opening couplet. And moments of improvised wit are never far away. "After years of searching through the mysteries," he says, while his backing singers The Webb Sisters keep the beat, "I've finally found the key: it's 'doo-dum-dum'..."

Dressed in a dapper grey suit that looks as old as he is, he sports a fedora that doubles as a prop: often, he'll wave it like he's welcoming the troops home, or clasp it to his chest like he's burying one of them. His bony white fingers gripping the microphone, he's a frail figure now. Every time he buckles his legs at a moment of drama, you worry that his knees won't straighten again. When he introduces his band (which includes a mandolin player and church organist) about 19 times too often, you wonder whether it's a senior moment.

All three phases of his career – put crassly, seduction sonneteer, political prophet and mad monk – are represented, although, give or take the candle burning on his amp (and, arguably, "Hallelujah"), his religious side is expressed in such an indirect way that one can choose to ignore it.

Leonard Cohen can believe any kind of gobbledegook in the face of death. That's his prerogative. Just as it's our prerogative to not take it seriously, nor indulge it with any longer shrift than a secretly impatient smile.

Not that he's anyone's idea of a puritan. He stops short of performing "Chelsea Hotel No 2", denying us the line "giving me head on the unmade bed, while the limousines wait in the street", but he doesn't eschew the pleasures of the flesh entirely.

His politician premonitions, chiefly from the Eighties and early Nineties, are reaping their reward now: "I have seen the future/Brother, it is murder" is chillingly accurate, as is the grimly ironic pay-off "Democracy is coming ... to the USA", and a funked-up "First We Take Manhattan" is an exhilarating revolution fantasy.

Sometimes he almost seems to be drifting off to sleep, until he opens his eyes and squints up into the spotlights, like he's looking at an aeroplane. It's understandable. During the more meandering lounge-jazz passages, time can slow to a crawl. Other times, he's exhilarating. "So Long Marianne" still swings, and he still has that deep baritone which does strange things to women, and causes envy in men. "I was born with the gift of a golden voice", he sings knowingly, to rapturous applause.

The last we hear of Leonard Cohen is, quite perfectly, the verse "Goodnight, my darling/I hope you're satisfied/Here's a man still working for your smile."

Need to know

In 1994, aged 60, Leonard Cohen retreated to California's Mount Baldy Zen Centre and was ordained as a Rinzai Zen Buddhist, taking the Dharma name Jikhan ("silence"). After five years at the centre he returned to music, and has since released two albums: 'Ten New Songs' (2001) and 'Dear Heather' (2004). In 2005, Cohen alleged that, during his retreat, manager Kelley Lynch stole $5m from his retirement fund along with his publishing rights, leaving the singer with just $150,000. In 2006, Cohen won a civil suit for $9m but Lynch refused to comply and Cohen may never recoup his lost earnings.
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Re: Manchester, UK (June 17-20): Sunday press reviews

Post by Born With The Gift Of A G » Sun Jun 22, 2008 2:49 pm

Here are some reviews in the British Sunday papers of Leonard Cohen's performance at the Manchester Opera House on Tuesday, 17th June 2008:

(1) The Independent On Sunday:

**** The 'hard copy' is well worth purchasing (only £1.00!) for an excellent colour photograph of LC and Javier Mas. ... 51862.html

(I was actually chatting with this Simon Price character from The Independent during the interval last Tuesday...and was the one who told him about LC's financial woes!).

(2) The Observer:

*** There's another excellent colour photograph of LC and the band in the 'hard copy' of today's edition. ... 26,00.html

(3) The Sunday Times: ... 173526.ece

(4) The Mail On Sunday

This includes a laudatory report by that long-standing Cohen devotee, Tim de Lisle.
Alas, I cannot find his review online.

Nothing in The Sunday Telegraph, as yet.
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London: 10 & 11 May 1993; Manchester: 17, 18, 19 & 20 June 2008; Vienna: 25 September 2008; London: 17 November 2008; Paris: 26 November 2008; Manchester: 30 November 2008; Liverpool: 14 July 2009; Paris: 28 September 2012; Manchester: 31 August 2013; Leeds: 7 September 2013.
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Re: Manchester, UK (June 17-20)

Post by sirius » Sun Jun 22, 2008 2:50 pm

Singing all the way to the bank

The fans topped up Leonard Cohen's pension fund and were repaid with an evening of pure gold

Kitty Empire
Sunday June 22, 2008


Leonard Cohen
Manchester Opera House ... 26,00.html

Having spent five years in a Zen Buddhist monastery, Leonard Cohen should be well versed in the Buddhist teaching of non-attachment. Tonight, on the first of a four-night run at Manchester's Opera House, the elder statesman of song certainly carries himself with the sort of grace that a spell away from the rat race often bestows. He beams with pleasure at the repeated ovations and cracks jokes when you least expect him to. One minute he is the Dalai Lama of Dour. The next he's listing half-a-dozen pharmaceuticals he's taken since his last live outing in 1993, when he was 'just a 60-year-old kid with a crazy dream'.

And yet this 73-year-old's world tour - probably, let's face it, his last - is motivated by that most profane of rewards: lucre. While he was up the mountain, Cohen's longtime associate gnawed a gaping multi-million dollar hole in Cohen's retirement fund, one that court action has so far been unable to rectify. So Cohen, in his own words, is 'back on Boogie Street', singing for his nest egg. It is awful to say it, but his loss is our gain. 'It's kind of you to come out on a school night,' he quips. He apologises for the 'financial and geographical inconvenience' and adds: 'But I didn't establish the market.' He's alluding to the diva-level ticket prices, but, playing 24 songs over three hours, the man from Montreal is easily worth a dozen Barbra Streisands, with a few Madonnas left over.

This frail, dapper gent standing on a Manchester stage in 2008 was never going to be the monochrome folk singer of the Sixties and early Seventies, all cut up about his famous blue raincoat. Since the Eighties, Cohen's arrangements have become more and more synthesised and his most recent albums positively jazzy. Tonight, all suited and hatted, his able band - bassist Roscoe Beck, organist Neil Larsen, longtime collaborator Sharon Robinson, singers Charley and Hattie Webb, guitarist Bob Metzger, drummer Rafael Gayol, Javier Mas on an assortment of stringed things, saxophonist and woodwinder Dino Soldo - look like they are playing a supper jazz gig in deepest Sicily. The superb Mas, in particular, plays a succession of smaller and smaller 12-stringed mandolins called the laud, the archilaud and the bandurria, giving many songs a Hispanic gypsy air.

But not even the unwelcome tootling of Soldo can detract from the power of the songs themselves. 'Bird on a Wire' survives the unctuous solos, while latterday songs like 'The Future', with its gospelly vocal interplays, or the superb 'Everybody Knows', are made glorious by the lushness of the band. Those longing for the literate loser with the guitar - Jarvis Cocker perhaps? He is in attendance - do get a small window into the past. 'Suzanne' is untouched, with Cohen gently plucking at a black - what else? - guitar. Backed only by three singers and his splendid organist Neil Larsen, Cohen begins his second set with 'Tower of Song', where he accompanies himself on the keyboard, getting whoops of applause for his one-fingered solo. He plays to the natural gags. 'I was born with the gift of a golden voice,' Cohen growls, even more sepulchrally than ever before, to the delight of the audience.

Although he made his songwriting name in the Sixties as the hymner of desolation, Cohen can ham it up just as well as he can wallow. He does a little 'white man' dance when the lyrics require it on 'The Future' and, after ending his encore with 'Closing Time', returns a few second later with 'I Tried to Leave You'.

All this twinkling does not detract from four decades of gravitas, however. 'Hallelujah' is his best-known song, covered by everyone from Jeff Buckley to a recent American Idol hopeful called Jason Castro. Tonight, he invests it with particular intensity, knocking his knees together, crouching down and squeezing his eyes shut in supplication. 'Who by Fire' started out as an Old Testament prayer and retains a spooky prehistoric resonance.

If this is a farewell tour in all but name, Cohen, the baggy-trousered sage descended from the mountain, has a few points to make. His political songs - 'The Future', 'Democracy', 'Everybody Knows' - are delivered with particular relish.

At the end of the first set, Cohen recounts wryly how he has spent the years studying the religions of the world, 'but cheerfulness kept breaking through'. The next song is 'Anthem', which he begins as a recital, as befits this fallen poet. It is mesmerising. The T-shirts in the foyer bear a quote from it, which goes: 'Forget your perfect offering/ There is a crack in everything/ That's how the light gets in.'

If he never passes this way again, Cohen's last teachings on human imperfection will echo for some time to come.

· Leonard Cohen plays Glastonbury 29 June, Edinburgh Castle 16 July, London's O2 Centre 17 July and the Big Chill 3 August. © Guardian News and Media Limited 2008
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Re: Manchester, UK (June 17-20)

Post by Born With The Gift Of A G » Sun Jun 22, 2008 2:51 pm


Great minds think alike, eh?!
"Little lady.....I AM Kris Kristofferson....."
London: 10 & 11 May 1993; Manchester: 17, 18, 19 & 20 June 2008; Vienna: 25 September 2008; London: 17 November 2008; Paris: 26 November 2008; Manchester: 30 November 2008; Liverpool: 14 July 2009; Paris: 28 September 2012; Manchester: 31 August 2013; Leeds: 7 September 2013.
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Re: Manchester, UK (June 17-20)

Post by Habie » Sun Jun 22, 2008 3:23 pm

Dear all
I was at Manchester on Friday (have already written about the Dublin concert last week), and I can honestly say, it was the best concert of my life.
I went with Simon, my ex partner and best friend. In the interval we were commenting on how wonderful it was and I said, 'I admit the one thing that would have made this completely perfect for me, would be Famous Blue Raincoat, which he won't be singing unfortunately'. (I assumed the setlist was fixed, with only the order of songs changing.). Simon said, 'you never know..' (he has always had a theory about belief affecting events) - and whatever came next, it would be the best concert ever.
Then came the second half, including Sisters of Mercy, an unexpected treat we didn't get in Dublin.
And then the Encores. And then... the light turned blue, Lennie came up close (or so it seemed) and then... 'It's four in the morning, the end of December...'. I collapsed, folded into tears that seemed to be of joy and sorrow for everything that ever was. I felt I was melting in tears, had no control, it was like a moment out of time which I hope never to go through again. I wept for so many things, personal and general. Simon held me, and Leonard's voice and that December song were perfect ways to commemorate and celebrate whole lifetime[s] of pain and joy.
He has such infinite grace as a performer, whatever his motives for this tour (see today's Observer review, mentioning the 'Pension Fund'), is not our business. And call me sentimental, but I'm sure there is no way Leonard's enjoyment of our love and admiration was feigned. He clearly appreciates finding so much love for him in every city he visits.
Even when he made jokes he had made before ('I was sixty years old then, just a kid with a crazy dream...') he made them sound fresh. And when he commented how lucky we were to be sharing music when so much of the world was in pain and famine, it felt, as always, completely appropriate.
Like Mandela, Lennie makes you less afraid about getting older.
Near the end a woman shouted out in a lovely lilting accent, 'Love you, Leonard!'.
Later a man shouted, 'come back soon!' to which Lennie replied, 'Okay'.
But we knew it wasn't true...
What a swansong, if this is what it is. Leonard makes a dapper swan indeed, and it's a privilege to share his song.
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Re: Manchester, UK (June 17-20)

Post by unsongs » Sun Jun 22, 2008 3:41 pm

Strange, Habie - my name is Simon, I went on Tuesday 17th with my (recently) ex-partner and now best friend (Sally)! For a moment I thought you were her. It's taken me this long to write my review, which might also be said to have 'swan-song' as its theme. Here it is:

Leonard Cohen, Manchester Opera House
Tuesday 17th June 2008

From the moment he stepped out onto the stage – now looking diminutive and rather mortal – I knew this was going to be a concert of a different order. It’s well-documented by now that he received a spontaneous and unanimous standing ovation before he had uttered a word or sang a note, or even before he made it to centre-stage. I myself wasn’t late or half-hearted in jumping up, clapping and cheering with the rest. I laughed at myself, and at this incredible reaction, not knowing exactly where such an effusion sprang from, but like everyone around me I didn’t care. I knew it was absolutely right that this small man in his 74th year, immaculate in his over-sized gangster suit, deserved all this and more. For a minute or so it felt like i was witnessing a visitation from a saint than a pop singer.

He stood there before us, blinking in the light as if he had just a moment before risen from sleep, and then with one step moved from the darkness into this commotion of praise. But there was not an ounce of pride or complacency in the beaming smile he sent back over our applause. He looked as surprised to be there, and to be the cause of all this, as many of us were, perhaps, to be effervescing with such abandon, before anything had actually happened.

What were we applauding? Of course it was the man, the songs, the years of deep nourishment his work has offered us. At the heart of it all is his naked honesty - coupled with but never hidden by his poet’s skill – that reflects back to us our own complex humanity.

Leonard Cohen is a poet of the flesh and the spirit, and where these two fires meet his songs have always been there, burning alongside us. Never moralising, never offering us easy solace, he has diligently mapped the human catastrophe as it played out in his own life, and within it we have seen our own frailties, longings and lusts, recognised our own degradations and transfigurations, our own hearts won and lost in the conflagrations of history. When the audience stood, clapped and cheered on that Tuesday evening before a word was spoken, we were thanking him for that honesty, an honesty in which we were all identified and recognised in our individual and our collective passions and helplessness. It was that which gave the moment its incredible charge.

If the man himself looked somewhat frail, raising some doubt in my mind over the quality of his voice or the stamina needed to hold an audience for nearly three hours, the first few lines of the opener, ‘Dance Me To The End Of Love,’ put paid to that. Rich and sonorous, intimate yet surprisingly powerful, he seemed in as good a voice, if not better, than when I saw him 15 years ago at the Royal Albert Hall. With great wit and humility he put the subject of old age at the centre of his set, drawing mostly on his later-period. ‘Tower Of Song,’ ‘Closing Time’ and ‘If It Be Your Will’ all react to aging with varying degrees of resignation, anger and acceptance. He earned a big laugh with the first of these, announcing it’s found-art minimalism by starting it off with one finger on his keyboard, following on with his superbly ironic no-talent piano solo, at which the audience gave wild applause, happy to get in on the joke. ‘You’re very generous,’ he quipped, and we were putty in his hands. This song in particular, and its offhand though marvellously precise delivery, seemed to give the finger to anyone who might think that Leonard Cohen worries much about his legacy or reputation. To any pretensions that his work might amount to some kind of authority – whether from within his own work or from the estimation of others - he cheerfully admits that everything he says ‘may be wrong…you see you hear these funny voices in the Tower of Song’. Such a disorienting, self-deprecating thought is worthy of any character in a Samuel Beckett play. Repeatedly throughout the night he tells us he has no absolutes to impart. His is ‘not the laughter of someone who claims to have seen the light ‘(Hallelujah), and any truth he may have discovered ‘isn’t worth a dime’ (Closing Time) anyway.

His vocal performance was impeccable - filled with yearning and tenderness. His phrasing was careful but never pedantic, drawing maximum effect from every line. Musically, his band were polished and professional, even if the arrangements were sometimes a little bland. The least effective rendition from a musical point of view was ‘First We Take Manhattan,’ which felt weak without its 80’s synth-pop bite, and on which surely a little distorted guitar might have been risked.

But it was really all about that voice, and the sound mix was perfect in this respect, putting Leonard Cohen’s textured, parchment-dry voice front and centre. I looked around me on several occasions, and every time saw someone in tears or very close. I have never seen an audience so thoroughly lost to the performance.

It’s stating the obvious, perhaps, to say that Leonard Cohen is nearer the end of the dance than the beginning, and perhaps the evening was charged to such an extraordinary degree by this knowledge. On ‘I’m Your Man’ he changed the lyric to ‘I’ll wear this old mask for you’, painful honesty mixing with deadpan humour to devastating effect.
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Re: Manchester, UK (June 17-20)

Post by slownight » Sun Jun 22, 2008 5:38 pm

I thought I would post my own brief review of Leonard’s Friday night concert in Manchester as I so enjoyed reading others’ reviews before I was lucky enough to go myself and so would like to offer something back. For those of you who have yet to see him, you will not be disappointed – the concert lives up to every superlative offered here, and more, given that words are inadequate to describe the experience. For those of you who will not be seeing him, a combination of reviews and YouTube clips will be better than nothing, although I know it won’t be the same.

Having been a lifelong Leonard fan, I was very sad not to have been able to get tickets the last time he toured in England and so I was determined to do everything I could to get to a concert this time. I, like many others, paid through the roof to get tickets on ‘Seatwave’ and whilst I resented handing over money to ticket touts in that way, I was too desperate to go to really consider the principles of doing so in any depth. I was glad I did in the end as I would not have missed the concert for the world. It was the best concert I have ever been to and I cannot imagine anything ever surpassing it – apart from another Leonard Cohen concert!

As others have said, Leonard was just simply superb. From the moment he walked onto the stage and we all sprang to our feet to thank him for giving us such glorious pleasures over all these years, he captured everyone’s hearts and minds. His voice was as good as it has ever been and he gave every song exquisite care and attention, which is no mean feat after singing them time and time again over so many years. The songs that stood out were, for me, the spoken ‘A thousand kisses deep’ (amazing!) ‘Who by Fire’, ‘The Gypsy Wife’, ‘Hallelujah’ and ‘Famous Blue Raincoat’. Every standing ovation was deserved, there was just no way to fully thank him and the band for such treasures. Hour after hour of stunning music and then... I simply could not believe it when the stage lighting turned blue for the penultimate song and we heard the poignant phrase ‘It’s four in the morning, the end of December..’. It seemed as if everyone around me stopped breathing for a moment and I certainly think my heart missed several beats. Leonard was so still on the stage as he crafted every profound and compelling line so carefully; the experience was very intense. He sang it so beautifully, I couldn’t stop the tears from streaming down my face – I don’t know what I was crying for, I think it was just simply one of the most emotional things I have ever experienced in my life and I was completely overwhelmed. Lou Reed said in his introduction for Leonard in the ‘Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’ that we are lucky to be living at the same time as Leonard Cohen. I don’t think there is anything else to be said. Thank you, Leonard, for everything you have given us.
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Re: Manchester, UK (June 17-20)

Post by sirius » Sun Jun 22, 2008 6:40 pm

Hallelujah as the 73 year old has not lost his touch

18 June 2008


BBC Today's Music News

Review: Leonard Cohen

You know you’re a living legend when you get a standing ovation just for taking the stage.

That’s what Leonard Cohen got from his fans last night in Manchester and with two hour long sets and a six song encore to boot, he more than justified the adoration.

The six-piece backing band was smooth and sophisticated, staying the right side of tasteful lounge music thanks largely to the Spanish guitar player Javier Mas.

If that sounds slightly disrespectful, then let me hasten to say that they created the perfect platform for what was undoubtedly the star attraction of the show… Leonard Cohen’s voice.

Although he’s starting to look a little like the 73 year old man that he is, Lenny still looks great on stage. A steel grey double breasted suit and a slate grey shirt with no tie was toped off with a sharp fedora (grey of course) which made the great man look a little like a mafia don; apparently genteel on the outside but 100% killer on the inside.

And this was confirmed when he opened his mouth to sing the set opener Dance Me To The End Of Love. Quite simply Leonard Cohen’s voice is a force of supernature.

If anything, it sounds better now than it ever did. It was deep and magisterial from start to finish. You could hear every word, every syllable and every nuance and just lie back and indulge in classic song after classic song.

As well as the musicians on stage there was also a chorus of three female singers made up of Cohen’s long term collaborator Sharon Robinson and British duo The Webb Sisters.

Most of the time they provided simple, succinct, soulful backing but on a number of songs they were almost dueting with the maestro. But don’t let that make you think that Lenny was coasting. Far from it.

He gave us nearly every classic from right across his career (Famous Blue Raincoat was perhaps the most… er… famous absent song) and he proved that his songs from the 80s and 90s were as powerful as anything he ever recorded.

Second song of the night, The Future, was particularly powerful and gave Cohenites a chance to play spot the lyric change.

After a short interval the second set started with just Cohen, his backing singers and Hammond player Neil Larson giving us a wonderfully intimate version of Tower of Song which was quickly followed by Suzanne.

Then a few songs later came the one most if us had been waiting for… Hallelujah. Admittedly Leonard doesn’t have the golden voice of Jeff Buckley or Rufus Wainwright but no other version could hold a candle to the performance of this song last night.

With the stage illuminated in bright white light Cohen’s body was clenched like a gospel singer about to testify… and that’s just what he did.

Like every other classic song he played the performance brought another standing ovation and the great man seemed to be genuinely enjoying the love that was being showered on him. In fact the whole show was a complete love-in.

Lenny love us and we loved him, Lenny loved his band and introduced each of them at least 6 times. There was an almost overwhelming atmosphere of grace and gratitude.

The financial disasters which prompted Cohen to return to performing seemed almost worth it. There ain’t no cure for love like this and hallelujah for that.

Ged Gray
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We are so small between the stars, so large against the sky
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Re: Manchester, UK (June 17-20)

Post by qbera6 » Sun Jun 22, 2008 7:07 pm

Byron wrote:Anna!!! check the Edinburgh date!!!!!
Thanks Byron :D 16th July I meant :D 24 days to go!
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Re: Manchester, UK (June 17-20)

Post by jrw » Sun Jun 22, 2008 8:03 pm

We met when we were almost young. The Albert Hall 1976. I used to tell people it was the best concert I have ever seen. I was a kid (18) with crazy dreams of poetry and women or women and poetry. I can't forget but I don't remember what. For the next thirty three years we kept in touch via vinyl and cd but never met up. So when the tour was announced I was determined to see him and bring along my wife and children. Would he be as good as I remembered? When Leonard came on stage on Wednesday night he said he hoped we would not be disappointed but we could tell from his eyes and we could tell from his smile that tonight would be fine. A major understatement. The whole damn place goes crazy- a standing ovation at the start. No blouses torn off but we are a British audience and our craziness is polite and respectful. He brought us his songs. We stood up and clapped, sat down and listened, only at one point did a man stand up during the middle of Hallelujah but this moment of madness soon passed. Is this what we wanted? Is this what we wanted? Oh yes. This is not a man singing to pay his rent. He has not come to fool you. He is what he is and what he is is back on Boogie Street. Not frail but moving his body so brave and so free -3 encores 3 hours of pure gold. My eyes are soft with sorrow but you’ve got my smile. Outside the rain pours down but my heart is full. Ring the bells. All your praises they shall ring. I shall practice with the monkey and the plywood violin. Thanks for the perfect offering.
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