Re: "Leonard Cohen Live in London" > DVD & 2CD (April 2009)
Posted: Sat Dec 12, 2009 4:06 am
Sorry... good news, wrong placing...
Still, nice to know I'll have the IOW set soon!
Still, nice to know I'll have the IOW set soon!
The Countdown of the Best Albums of 2009
By Mark Harrison
Published January 12, 2010
Continuing the countdown of the best albums of 2009. The top 10:
01. Live In London, Leonard Cohen. This two-disc set recorded live at London’s O2 Arena on July 17, 2008 kicked off the tour to help rebuild Cohen’s retirement funds, embezzled by his business manager while he was away at a Buddhist monastery. Arguably the best live album ever recorded and largely the best-reviewed album released in 2009.
Saturday, 20 February 2010
Leonard Cohen - Live in London
Two things about this album, firstly it is one of the most enjoyable live recordings I have ever heard and secondly it is by an artist whose time has come. Recorded on 17th July 2008 at London’s O2 Arena, ‘Live in London’ was released as a DVD and a two-CD set in March 2009. It has received rave reviews by the media and now in early 2010 he has received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award after being a singer/songwriter/performer for over 40 years.
I have to admit that more often than not I find live recordings disappointing. How often have we heard artists who can’t hit their notes correctly on stage? The balance and sound quality is invariably not quite the same and the crowd noises are annoying. In addition, the live recording doesn’t help you enjoy the atmosphere that was present. None of these criticisms apply here.
Firstly, you have to say that the Cohen voice is still as powerful and deep as it always has been, in fact there is probably an added timbre that now comes with over forty years of performing. Unlike other artists as they get older, this septuagenarian’s singing now seems to suit his work more than it has ever done. Cohen has always had a maturity of thought way beyond his contemporaries, so the aged voice is somehow even more appropriate.
Secondly, the live audio quality of this recording is the best I have ever heard. There has been plenty of criticism about the acoustics at the O2 Arena but you can’t detect any problems here at all. What’s more listening to the album you wouldn’t know it’s a massive arena as the warmth and intimacy of the event is captured perfectly.
Lastly, the instrumentation on this album is absolutely exquisite. Cohen collaborated with ten of the finest musicians including Bob Metzger (guitar, steel guitar), Javier Mas (bandurria), Dino Soldo (saxophone, wind instruments) and the sublime voices of Sharon Robinson and the Webb Sisters, Hattie and Charley. The accompaniments alone make this album worth buying, even if you have the original versions you can’t help but be impressed with how beautifully and sensitively these songs have been re-arranged. My only gripe and it’s not really a criticism is that Cohen hasn’t made use of strings in his little band, I would love to hear a violin or cello as I’m sure this would add another dimension.
My other point was that Cohen is appreciated by his audience more now than he has ever been. The music, spiritual but not sentimental, reflects the current popularity of poetry and anything related to mind, body and spirit. Cohen spent five years in a Zen Buddhist monastery in Japan between 1996 and 2001 and it has undoubtedly had an impact on his whole being. He has always had a presence but there is now an inner calm and peace which he can use to mesmerise his audience.
Cohen uses all his experience to win over the crowd. There’s cleverness right from the start, welcoming his audience like guests with “it’s wonderful to be gathered here just on the other side of intimacy.” He chooses his words between the songs very carefully and his use of humour and wit never detracts from the mood he is trying to create. He ridicules his former depressions by naming all the anti-depressant drugs he has been on and reminisces about the last time he performed in London, 15 years previous when he says he was “a kid with a crazy dream.” The patter is laid-back and droll but you can’t help but love it.
He pampers the audience but his team of musicians as well. He knows exactly when to get the applause for his skilled performers. He has the timing of a true professional.
In the second half he recites some of this poetry including the incredibly moving “A Thousand Kisses Deep.” You feel that this brings together a lot of aspects that are so important to him at the moment including love, anti-ego and ageing, “The ponies run, the girls are young The odds are there to beat You win a while and then it’s done Your little winning streak And summoned now to deal With your invincible defeat You live your life as if it’s real A thousand kisses deep.”
There are too many excellent tracks on this album to mention them all. Suzanne, Bird on the Wire and So Long Marianne are classics from his two albums ‘The Songs of Leonard Cohen’ and ‘Songs From A Room’ in the late sixties. There are all his later favourites as well including Everybody Knows, The Gypsy’s Wife, Anthem and Democracy. For anyone who has not yet found the works of this unique master there are 26 of his greatest songs over two and a half hours. If you missed the concert but have some of his records from the past, there is still plenty to enjoy here though.
I wonder how many April fools tried this at home? (Sadly, I was one of them, and after my second attempt, it hit me. Good one! )Pete wrote:Wow!!! What an unexpected added bonus this is.
I was intitially surprised that when this DVD appeared there was no extra bonus material (as with most DVDs).... but there is!!!!!
Last night I had to pause the DVD after 'Anthem' i.e after the first set, and went to make a coffee. When I settled down again, and before I pressed 'play' it suddenly went into footage of Leonard and the band backstage fooling around before reappearing for the second set. After about 5 minutes of this it switched back to Leonard doing his introduction to Tower of Song.
Just to make sure I wasn't seeing things I tried it again and it worked...the pause needs to be about 4 minutes...the time it took to make my coffee.