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Leonard Cohen has much to teach a culture that too often favours youth and beauty over age and wisdom.
Time has been kind to Cohen, who enraptured and enthralled a multi-generational audience at Saskatoon's Credit Union Centre Tuesday night.
As the lights went down on CUC, Cohen jogged quickly into his place between his assembled cast of world-class musicians, all dressed much like the 74-year-old Cohen, who wore a crisp black suit and a fedora.
Doffing his hat, he got down on his knees as virtuoso guitarist Javier Mas began the opening song, Dance Me To the End of Love.
The musicians have performed more than 100 shows with Cohen since he began his world tour in 2008, and the precision with which they play together is apparent, providing the background to Cohen's poetry with grace and ease. The audience will never know how hard they work.
Cohen moved through decades of material, offering his dark prophecies in the form of 1992's The Future. With the lyrics "love the only engine of survival," Cohen sent out a timely message in a climate of widespread economic panic, teetering global markets and the pervasive scent of despair trotted out daily by the media.
"Your private life will suddenly explode," he sings, as if predicting the advent of social networking, doing his best to lighten the mood with a few well-timed dance steps.
Cohen has often insisted his voice sounds better with female accompaniment, and the cartwheeling Webb sisters and long-time collaborator Sharon Robinson provided a pitch-perfect, ethereal accompaniment to his textured baritone.
"Speak to the angels," he said, looking rapturously at them.
He also maintained a similar reverence for his audience, adding "thank you folks" after many of the songs.
With Bird on a Wire, one of his folk singer-era successes, we were reminded once again of the power of his lyricism, his voice doing its best to slip into the higher registers he used to employ.
At press time Cohen had just begun the second half of the evening, manning a keyboard that was playing the synthesized beats of Tower of Song. The crowd was in full anticipation of favourites like Suzanne and Hallelujah to come.