Godfather of Blissful Doom
By Mike Ross, Edmonton Sun
First posted: Sunday, November 18, 2012 10:29 PM MST |
Updated: Sunday, November 18, 2012 11:52 PM MST
Just guessing there was a lot of middle-aged sex after the Leonard Cohen concert on Sunday night.
Sorry you had to read that, kids, but the man sure knows how to kindle the fires of the cockles of the heart, or maybe somewhere lower.
There’s just something about that deep, whispery voice, those sad yet intensely romantic songs, his good manners, his natty black fedora, or maybe it was lines like this: “You came to me this morning and you handled me like meat. You’d have to be a man to know how good that feels, how sweet.”
It’s hard to know what his secret is. Len is a Man of Mystery. People say that if the Grim Reaper had a voice, it would sound something like this, but there sure were a lot of happy couples who turned up at Rexall Place to hang on his every word. The fans created one of the quietest crowds for one of the quietest shows ever witnessed in this building, all in rapt, reverent attention as the 78-year-old Godfather of Blissful Doom performed like he had nothing to lose. First song in, he’s on his knees, begging her please, to “dance me to the end of love.”
The theme would surface again several times in a show that stretched two sets over three hours.
Rendered with elegant precision by a fine band and angelic back-up vocals, the show was perfect combination of fatalism and romance, heaven and hell, sex and death, sometimes all of the above all at the same.
Cohen wore a smile the entire time, was a gracious host and a perfect gentleman. Funny, too.
He said at early at one point he wanted to “start smoking when I’m 80 … try a little acid when I’m 90 and sex when I’m 100.”
Hey, if Len can last this long and still be randy, his fans certainly ought to be up to it. Along with the sweetly rendered songs about death, heartbreak and the end of the world as we know it came his famous love songs: Bird on a Wire or Ain’t No Cure for Love.
Before the intermission came Amen, again down on his knees begging her please to “tell me that you love me again.”
There was a bluesy number called Who By Fire that seems to be about love and death at the same time. During the recitation of his poem “A Thousand Kisses Deep” – see meat line, above - you could hear a pin drop, or a potato chip crunch, anyway.
The first set ended with Anthem, cheers rising when he sang, “There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.”
The second set went back in time quite a bit more than the first, and was loaded with romantic goodness, opening with a doo-wop treatment of Tower of Song, as he made light of his own skills on the Bontempi organ, before moving into the slow and sweet Suzanne – released long ago when most of the observers at the concert were just coming of age.
Cheers also came in Waiting for the Miracle: “I dreamed about you, baby, it was just the other night, most of you was naked, but some of you was light.”
In curious contrast, Len also delivered some of the most depressing songs ever written.
Songs like Everybody Knows especially amounted to one pronouncement of doom after another – the dice are loaded, the fight was fixed, the boat is leaking, the deal is rotten, the scene is dead, it’s all coming apart - and just in time for the Mayan Apocalypse, too!
He’s got a way of sealing off all the lights at the end of the tunnel with lines like “I thought the past would last me, but the darkness too that, too.”
Old people are forever complaining that the world is going to hell, that things are sliding in all directions, that the future, in short, is murder, baby, and that’s mainly because old people assume the world is falling apart in time with their own bodies, but Len may be onto something here:
We’re all doomed in the end — there’s no arguing with evidence — so we might as well make love.