PeGu wrote:I have just been to the concert in Mannheim and can answer the TS's question with a definite NO.
Everything you say (which I snipped for the sake of brevity) are valid points, and I agree with the sentiment that you can appreciate music more when you know it intimately. But for us fans, that is the case with Leonard's music anyway -- the subtleties and nuances are well known and we will always find deep emotional significance in slight changes and surprises. Our old favourites will always move us in ways no other songs can, because of all the memories they evoke.
A varied setlist doesn't diminish this effect, it actually enhances it. It adds an element of surprise, of spice, if you will, to the mix without sacrificing the familiarity of the music; it can make us see songs in a new light when we suddenly hear them in a different context. Someone raised the point that it's simply not feasible for technical reasons (lightning cues, guitar tunings), but that is demonstrably untrue since some major touring acts can do it with a much more complicated setup then a Cohen tour and more instruments and musicians in play. Lightning cues & sound mixing are pre-programmed by song anyway, so all the techs need to figure out what the next song is going to be and select it on their equipment.
I get the feeling that some people who are defending the setlists do so out of some sort of loyalty: they don't like the word "stale" and they want to make clear that their enjoyment of a Cohen show is genuine and true. And nobody doubts that. I would argue, though, that even those people (like you, PeGu) would not object
if Mr. Cohen played a few different songs every night: I'm not expecting him to turn around 180 degrees and start approaching his setlists the way Springsteen does (see my post at viewtopic.php?f=75&t=34171#p334824
), but I honestly believe that there's only a very small minority here who'd actively resent it if there were 7-12 songs he'd rotate in and out of the show. The beginning of the tour in 2012 was a step in the right direction, but things seem to have settled down into them same-old by now.
It'd be easy enough for the band to know a few more songs.
What this boils down to, if you ask me, is if you'd actually object to more varied setlists or not. The original question whether or not setlists are getting "stale" is phrased clumsily -- in a way that provokes some people to go into defensive mode and defend Cohen, the setlist and their enjoyment of the show (which, again, nobody doubts). It's obvious that Mr. Cohen approaches his concerts in a similar vein to that of a theater play being performed; and it works perfectly for the first couple of times you see a show.
And if that is what you like and enjoy, good for you. And if you've never experienced your favourite artist reinventing himself night after night, you probably don't even know what you're missing.
There are those, however, who cannot watch a movie 7 times without it losing some of its emotional impact, for example. My last Leonard Cohen show in Vienna was great, but had nowhere near the same impact as the first two (in 2009 and 2010) whereas my last Springsteen show in Rome was probably the best I've ever seen him in more than 20 years and 40 concerts.
When rarities like "The Guests" are played, people here don't go "Oh no! The surprise ruined the whole show for me. I wasn't prepared for it; I couldn't enjoy that at all!", do they? No, they are ususally happy to have caught it. It can't be a bad thing to have more of that feeling is what I'm saying.
[EDIT: corrected "majority" to "minority" -- is there a word for that sort of mistake when you write the opposite of what you intended to?]