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Re: CONCERT REPORTS: London, September 8 & 9

Posted: Tue Sep 11, 2012 1:26 am
by sturgess66 ... sept-2012/
Leonard Cohen, Wembley Arena (9 Sept 2012)

In her first piece for The Substantive, Simone Webb reviews the return to the London stage of Canadian singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen.

Every time I set out to write this review, it sounded increasingly pretentious, as a result of my elaborate attempts both to express my feelings at last night’s Leonard Cohen concert and to mimic the style of other reviews. (You know – “pithy opening line, personal anecdote related to the artist performing, background information, etc, etc, quips, pithy closing line”. The Telegraph even managed to end their review with a truly appalling pun: “this remains a country for old Len”.) I’m not sure it’s much use my trying to do both those things at once, so I’ll stick with trying to express my feelings, and leave the puns and frills to other reviewers.

I can truly say, with no hint of exaggeration, that seeing Leonard Cohen perform at the Wembley Arena was one of the most beautiful experiences of my life so far.

I wasn’t always a fan of Cohen’s work; I found it dreary until, over the past couple of years, as I listened to his music more closely I slowly collected a group of favourites (all fairly obvious; loving Take This Waltz and I’m Your Man is not original, but I loved them nonetheless.) And any dreariness with which his songs could have been charged was swept away last night. A perfect balance was struck between songs from his new album, Old Ideas, and his past catalogue, and – on my part – songs I was familiar with and songs I was hearing for the first time. My personal high point was near the end of the second half of the night when he sang I’m Your Man, Hallelujah, and Take This Waltz in succession; the intimacy he succeeded in creating in such a large (and indeed bleak) space, as well as the perfect quality of the sound engineering, combined to make an experience which bordered on the spiritual.

Mention needs to be made of the band, particularly the vocalists – the Webb sisters from Kent, and Sharon Robinson (collaborator with Cohen on songs such as Everybody Knows). They were all difficult to fault, and it was touching to see Cohen pay respect to them throughout the show, removing his fedora and standing stock still during their solo moments. His air of humility and respect was apparent the whole night, in fact; he bowed to the audience at the end of each half, radiating stillness and sincerity. His words at the end of the show would probably have sounded trite and sentimental to me coming from nearly anyone else, but he delivered them in such a way that they seemed to have genuine meaning: “May you be surrounded by friends and family all the days of your lives, and if that is not your lot, may blessings find you in your solitude”.

I’m not sure I did escape sounding pretentious after all. It’s not often that I experience something which I find difficult to criticise or distance myself from. I can only recommend that anyone who gets a chance to see Leonard Cohen perform live do so, and furthermore that they listen to his new album; it has some wonderful songs on it (particular favourites of mine were Going Home and Amen). I’ll conclude with my favourite lines from any Cohen song:

Forget your perfect offering

There is a crack in everything

That’s how the light gets in.

Simone Webb

Re: CONCERT REPORTS: London, September 8 & 9

Posted: Tue Sep 11, 2012 2:02 pm
by Vicomte
We arrived early, parked the car walked the 800 metres or so to the Arena, sat down on the steps ouside and I had a beer and Vicomtesse had a cup of tea. Then at around 6.15pm went in to have another beer (it was quite warm....) and then later we strolled in to the Arena to take our seats, where incidentally we taked to a forum member, St Bruno for the first time since Caen. A little later there was an announcement, the same as the one on Saturday and that the gig would start half an hour late due to ticket problems at the box office. No problems, what's another half hour when it took around 12 hours or more to reach Wembley from home ;-) We did stop for the night on the way though!

Anyway, the concert was of course yet another immaculate presentation of songs from a long (and getting longer) catalogue of Leonard's writings. We had the apology for the late start and the change of venue, which I won't go in to as it is posted elsewhere. Then to my mind in no certain order, I personally heard some songs that as I said on the night, I had never heard being offered any better, Sisters of Mercy, cripes after some 45 years you might think it would be old hat by 2012, well nothing that night could have been further from the truth. Then The Partisan, the way the band all stood in a line (bar Rafael) with Neil playing the accordion, along with Alex on violin and Javiers mastery, it all produced yet another superb rendition of this poignant song. There was also an excellent Night Comes on and I can't forget.

Sharon sung a most beautiful solo Alexandra Leaving and if possible, went up a further notch on my register. And I guess one has to take one's hat (no pun intended ;-) )off to Roscoe for pulling off yet another great musical direction and for Leonard to still have the desire to tour (as I posted a year or so back, who wouldn't want to tour again if they had heard the sound of adulation during 250 plus shows on the last tour!) Lastly in front of us in the first row were a young couple who had won two tickets for the gig, we chatted about various things, mainly music, they had not had much to do with LC, owned no albums but knew some of his classics. We wished them a good concert and settled back to hear the concert. By half time they said they were converted, so at least the average age of the fan base may drop thanks to LC continuing to tour, thereby hopefully ensuring the legacy of Leonard lives on in the young.

Oh yes, forgot, we both think it is a better line up on this leg of the tour than with Dino (sorry Dino fans).

Re: CONCERT REPORTS: London, September 8 & 9

Posted: Tue Sep 11, 2012 3:03 pm
by TommyJ
I entirely agree with that, Vicomte - it amazes me that these shows seem to get better and better.

As for the appeal to a younger audience, I took my 11 and 9 year olds to the show on Saturday and they absolutey loved it ( my 6 year old was disappointed to be left at home but you have to draw the line somewhere / spare a thought for other attendees). They genuinely love Leonard's music, having been a captive audience in the car for years. I got quite a telling off for going to Dublin later this week without them, but Mrs J and I need a bit of down time!


Re: CONCERT REPORTS: London, September 8 & 9

Posted: Tue Sep 11, 2012 3:33 pm
by Lorca1999
Hey TommyJ
I brought my 11 and 9 yr olds too. They loved it :D. Especially standing on the seats at the encores singing along...
They also commented that The Webb Sisters and Sharon 'have got better voices than Leonard Cohen', but that he was 'still amazing'.
I am so pleased I decided to take them, they were really blown away by the night.
Were your children (girls?) the ones in the hats?

Re: CONCERT REPORTS: London, September 8 & 9

Posted: Tue Sep 11, 2012 7:04 pm
by sturgess66
A review in - The Culture Edit - ... eas-review
There are more pictures at the link - also audio clips
Leonard Cohen Review

Picture credit: PA Photos

The Culture Edit
10 September 2012

TRUE legends are difficult to come by, but Leonard Cohen demonstrated on Saturday evening at his Wembley Arena gig that he will forever belong to the higher echelons of music. Unlike many musical geniuses on stage, there were no special effects, fancy lighting or epic-scale band - this was an old-fashioned set, simple, warm and intimate. He made the large space of Wembley Arena feel like a small basement bar in Soho.

He is described as a poet, an artist, a song-writer, a novelist born with, as his lyrics say, "a golden voice". His four decades-worth of work has inspired all from Lou Reed to Nick Cave. But, you get the impression that the 77-year-old doesn't think of himself in those terms, but rather "as a lazy bastard living in a suit" - to quote another of his song lyrics. As soon as he stepped on stage, he lamented the "invisible hands of the marketplace" that had last-minute forced him to change the venue of his two tour UK dates from the Hop Farm in Kent to London, apologising to his audiences for any inconvenience caused and taking off his hat as a mark of appreciation.
Picture credit: PA Photos

He was as enigmatic and humble as ever (that hat was bowed every time one of his perfect band members did a solo), but it was his unique, deep raspy voice that was the real star of the impressive three-and-a-half-long set. It's an incomparable voice that you wish could send you to sleep every night. That not's to understate its quality - just that everyone should end their day listening to a sound that beautiful and sincere. It would be like bedtime stories for adults.

His poetical lyrics came alive on stage - Take This Waltz sounded like how falling in love in feels; Hallelujah was reflective, delicate and inescapably moving; while Anthem showed Cohen at his self-aware, contemplative best. The lyric, "There are cracks in everything - that's how the light gets in", is still one of the most thought-provoking, most honest strings of words ever uttered by a musician. The unarguably kinky I'm Your Man went down well - as did tracks from his latest album, Old Ideas - with his enthusiastic audience.
Picture credit: PA Photos

For someone who is known for creating work full of melancholy, Cohen couldn't have been more energetic live. If Bob Dylan was lively during his Hop Farm performance in July, Cohen was jubilant. He hopped on and off(?) stage, and sung most of his songs on his knees. When two of his backing singers (the Webb sisters from Kent), did a cartwheel, it was almost surprising when he didn't follow suit. He showed a marked respectfulness towards his team, as he thanked everyone from his drummer - who he dubbed the "Prince of Precision" - to the lighting technicians.

Magical, unforgettable and inspiring - such words still don't give his performance justice. Perhaps the best advice to be given is this: If you only see one concert again in your life, make it a Leonard Cohen gig.

Written by Ella Alexander

Re: CONCERT REPORTS: London, September 8 & 9

Posted: Tue Sep 11, 2012 7:30 pm
by TommyJ
Hi Lorca1999, yes my girls were wearing the hats (at their insistence, I should add). It gives me huge pleasure to give them the opportunity to see a show of such incomparable quality, though despite my best efforts I'm not sure they can possibly realise how lucky they are. I've mentioned this before in a previous post, but I took my eldest to see Leonard in Lille 2 years ago and we met him by chance (with guidance from another Forum member) the next day. Then I took both girls to see the Webb Sisters last year, and we had the chance to chat briefly with Charley and Hattie afterwards. They are so lucky (as am I). Really glad your children enjoyed it too. I had the sobering thought, as the concert was about to begin, that Leonard was 68 when my 9 year old was born! Which is wonderful in itself.

Sturgess66 thanks so much for posting the Vogue review and that amazing photograph!


Re: CONCERT REPORTS: London, September 8 & 9

Posted: Tue Sep 11, 2012 7:34 pm
by sturgess66
Really good video uploaded by jules2view - Thanks :D

Sept 8

So Long Marianne (This is a wonderful video! Terrific capture of Leonard - and Alex & his violin -
also a view of the audience - expressions on their faces, etc.)

First We Take Manhattan (Again - wonderful video and sound clarity, i.e. guitar/Mitch @0:59)

The Partisan

Save the Last Dance For Me

Re: CONCERT REPORTS: London, September 8 & 9

Posted: Tue Sep 11, 2012 8:55 pm
by sturgess66
From the (I think he meant "Who By Fire" - not "Avalanche" ? :oops: ) ... eview.html
Leonard Cohen, Wembley Arena, review

Sarfraz Manzoor reviews Canadian singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen's gig at Wembley Arena.

5 out of 5 stars

Leonard Cohen, who performed at Wembley Stadium Photo: AP

By Sarfraz Manzoor
5:22PM BST 11 Sep 2012

Leonard Cohen’s concert began in sorrow and ended in triumph. The show was meant to have taken place at Hop Farm but was mysteriously relocated to Wembley Arena.

“I learnt about it at the same time you did,” Cohen told the audience, apologising for any inconvenience the relocation may have caused. What followed was a masterclass in musical generosity. Cohen demonstrated how to treat one’s back catalogue, band members and the audience with politeness, respect and warmth.

The show was to support Cohen’s most recent album, Old Ideas. As the title hints, the songs feature a reassuring lack of collaborations with Rihanna. Likewise, there were no unwise excursions into grime: what fascinates Cohen instead is the dirty business of finding dignity and beauty amid the inevitability of death.

That might sound about as much fun as being robbed of your savings by your manager but this was a sublimely pleasurable evening. The men in the band, dressed in fedoras and dark suits, resembled ageing wise guys with Cohen their gravel-voiced godfather. It began with a delicate Dance Me to the End of Love and a pulsating The Future. Everybody Knows was warmed by the harmonising of backing singers Sharon Robinson and the Webb Sisters.

Songs were fleshed out but never turned flabby: Neil Larsen’s Hammond organ shaded Bird on a Wire, while Avalanche began with a mesmerising solo on the 12-stringe guitar from Javier Mas – everyone else on stage was stone still, like actors witnessing a show-stopping soliloquy. During Sisters of Mercy, I turned to see my wife sobbing softly. She was thinking about a friend of ours who had died only days earlier from motor-neurone disease, aged just 37. She loved Leonard but never got to see him in concert.

Re: CONCERT REPORTS: London, September 8 & 9

Posted: Tue Sep 11, 2012 9:03 pm
by comehealing
Was just about to post the link for the review in the Telegraph but
you beat me to it :)
It's marvellous to read all the wonderful reviews. They capture
perfectly what was a memorable evening.
Thank you, once again, Leonard and your brilliant brand.
So slick. So sublime. So utterly life-enhancing.
Until the next time.

Re: CONCERT REPORTS: London, September 8 & 9

Posted: Tue Sep 11, 2012 9:09 pm
by sturgess66
Oops - sorry comehealing - I need to get off the computer for a while - now ... :)
I enjoyed your lovely concert report! :)
The videos by jules2view above are terrific.

Re: CONCERT REPORTS: London, September 8 & 9

Posted: Tue Sep 11, 2012 9:25 pm
by cohenadmirer
Re telegraph review
Maybe the curious substitution of ' avalanche' for ' who by fire' was wishful thinking
Not wishing who by fire out but wishing avalanche in

Re: CONCERT REPORTS: London, September 8 & 9

Posted: Tue Sep 11, 2012 9:49 pm
by Albert
I just watched Jules London videos -really outstanding !!!! Thanks for sharing.
Cohen captured at his best. I might be one of the few,who dislikes the new
violin player. A whole lot !!!! I miss Dino ´s sax soli !!

Re: CONCERT REPORTS: London, September 8 & 9

Posted: Wed Sep 12, 2012 1:19 am
by Cheshire gal
I just watched Jules' videos also. They are fantastic, almost like being in the front row of the concert. Congrats. to him and thank you Linda for finding these.

Re: CONCERT REPORTS: London, September 8 & 9

Posted: Wed Sep 12, 2012 11:01 pm
by simonmoorehead
i have a setlist - for the saturday night but i cant upload it if you want it email me

Re: CONCERT REPORTS: London, September 8 & 9

Posted: Thu Sep 13, 2012 10:45 am
by lightasabreeze
Albert wrote:I just watched Jules London videos -really outstanding !!!! Thanks for sharing.
Cohen captured at his best. I might be one of the few,who dislikes the new
violin player. A whole lot !!!! I miss Dino ´s sax soli !!
Funny you should mention that. Yesterday I listened to the LIVE IN LONDON cd and there are some tracks which I preferred with Dino.
For example Bird on the Wire, definitely enhanced with the sax. Plus other tracks too.
Enjoyed both concerts but admit to preferring previous concerts. Maybe it was the venue itself as I did not think the sound was good. I was in row 3 but there were times I could not hear the words. If I did not already know the words I doubt if I would have known what the songs were about.
Lady next to me who has not been to a concert before, only just heard about Leonard, said she wished she could hear the words.

But I still would not have missed the concert for anything, and I thought Leonard was singing even better than ever. I loved it. I hope there will be a full tour in England soon.