Better late than never, with my own refections on Liverpool. This was my sixth concert since Leonard's comeback, and my twenty second overall (I've never missed a UK tour). I consider the number 22 to be significant, since there are twenty two paths in the Kaballah. As it happens, I almost didn't come to this. When tickets went on sale, money was short and despite being offered a fourth row seat on the left hand aisle, I rejected it. I suddenly thought - what AM I doing?...spending an estimated £200 odd travelling to a huge northern arena to perhaps have less than the ideal experience of last year's four shows. Nonetheless, my friend Anthony, from Liverpool, happened to have a spare seat in the centre of row K, and when I was offered it...well, how could I refuse?
Actually, I ended up getting an amazingly good deal with this (my second) visit to Liverpool, from London. I got a return train journey for £16 and a half price room at the Jury's Inn, which,apart from the bar service, turned out to be the ideal place to stay, since it directly faces the entrance to the Echo Arena. In between the two buildings is a circular Pizza Express, which also served me nicely, as I pre-empted the 6 o-clock rush. Upon arrival at the Jury's Inn, reception told me that a lot of people staying at the hotel were there for the concert, and it was good to meet a few of them whilst signing in and standing in the bar queue before the show. I was also good to meet my friend's friends and answer some Leonard questions.
Protesters about Leonard's visit to Israel lined the forecourt of the Echo Arena, and I found their presence irritating. Leonard's music concerns the human heart and spiritual matters and he speaks to receptive souls throughout the world. I cannot see that his playing anywhere has any political significance, and I believe that the protesters are using his iconic status purely for their own agenda - regardless of whether the politics are correct or not. I told the people who challenged me that I trust Leonard implicitly and that I am sure that he knows exactly what he is doing by playing in Israel.
I found the Echo Arena to resemble a slightly smaller version of the O2, and felt lucky to have such a great seat. For such a place, the sound was indeed excellent. As I was sitting in block B, row K, seat 20, I was surprised not to recognize anyone around me. In fact, the only person I knew in my vicinity was Andy Jones, though I also met Jim Devlin since I knew where he was sitting, plus in the break we both had a brief chat with Simon.
In the area where I was sitting, the audience were remarkably respectful with virtually no talking and no singing (except on the expected chorus of “So Long Marianne”). A couple of rows in front of me (I 19 /H 19 or thereabouts) there was a guy who filmed the whole of the first half. While cameras usually irritate the hell out of me, the culprit kept it remarkably still, and I was able to avert my eyes from the glare. Sitting next to me on my left was a young man of maybe 10-12 years old with his father. The father whooped and yelled between songs, but to my amazement, the young man behaved exceptionally well and seemed to thoroughly enjoy the show. Thank God! ... considering this may (though hopefully not) be the last time I ever get to listen to Leonard live, while the karaoke fans have the rest of their lives to mimic Leonard in front of the mirror.
Finally to the concert itself, and what more is there to say about a show which has reached the level of perfection that only a double Virgo could achieve? Leonard’s vocals were excellent, and he sang every song as if were the version that he would be remembered for, forever thereafter. Every phrase and syllable was sung so as to wrench the most heartfelt and profound meaning from them. Was this the best version of “Bird on a Wire” he had ever sung? Possibly yes...and the same applies to most other songs –“Hallelujah”, “The Partisan”, even “So Long Marianne”. I honestly had no idea that Leonard had a cold, even though I saw him use a handkerchief fleetingly. As Leonard skipped off the stage each time, he seemed more sprightly than ever.
It was great to hear “Waiting For the Miracle” for the first time this tour, even at the expense of “Democracy” which is a favourite of mine. “Heart With No Companion” sounded wonderful, and so joyous considering the lyrics and my personal association of heartbreak with the song. I also really enjoyed “Boogie Street” this time, and Sharon looked so happy as she sang it. Other high spots, as ever, were “Anthem”, “Sisters of Mercy”, “Take This Waltz” “Famous Blue Raincoat” and “If it Be Your Will”. My only regret was not hearing “Whither Thou Goest”, but I presumed there was a curfew.
I found the concert every bit as captivating as my previous five shows, and I savoured every moment of it (I have purposefully only watched the DVD once so far, and have not even got round to buying the CD). I’m sorry that I didn’t get to meet more people from the LC files , though I did connect briefly with some others in the Jury’s Inn bar, afterwards. Also, it’s a pity that Jim Devlin had to rush off to get his train. I didn’t get my train home till lunchtime on Friday, so it was good to walk around the docks, read the reviews in the local papers and visit The Cavern for the first time.
“All You Need is Love”, John E
Last edited by John Etherington
on Fri Jul 17, 2009 10:08 pm, edited 10 times in total.