Some thoughts following the Pula concert

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DBCohen
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Some thoughts following the Pula concert

Post by DBCohen » Tue Aug 13, 2013 3:17 pm

The tour is on a break until August 15, so I’m taking this opportunity to reflect back on the Pula concert (August 2), which apart from being a great show, was also a very happy occasion to get together with many Forum members in a pleasant (if hot) atmosphere (in fact, anyone present at Verona last year must have been grateful for the heat…). Thanks again to those who organized the meetup and made it so memorable, especially Tom and Wendy.

Unlike many dedicated Forum members who’ve been to dozens of concerts since LC started touring again in 2008, I’ve only been to five concerts in the past five years. One reason is the distance; living in Japan has its advantages, but being so far from everywhere else, especially from places where concerts are held, is a clear disadvantage. But to a certain extent it is also a matter of choice; although I’ve been a dedicated follower of LC’s work since 1972, going to concerts was never easy, since LC was such a private experience for me. Before joining the Forum in 2006 I hadn’t realized that there are so many others who share this experience, nor was I aware that sharing it with others can be so beneficial. Still, as far as going to LC concerts, I always felt that fewer is better, thus making each concert a unique experience (and this should not by any means be interpreted as criticizing those who feel the need to go to as many concert as they can – hooray to them).

For us, going to a concert means re-experiencing songs we all know very well. However, as all dedicated followers must be aware, LC has always had a tendency to change the lyrics of his songs while preforming them, as well as the musical arrangements and sometimes even the tempo. Here are a few points I noticed during the Pula concert:

“The Future” – In the third verse, instead of “anal sex” he sang “careless sex”, which makes sense… However, on checking some videos now I found that the change occurred already much earlier in the tour (at least since 2009), so I must have missed it in previous concerts… This change was also reported on the Forum already once or twice before, I now see, but I guess it’s worth mentioning again.

“Who By Fire” – Nothing new here, but there is an important change in the tour version compared with the album one: the long instrumental introduction played by Javier Mas, which for me became one of the most thrilling moments of each concert.

“The Darkness” – The order of the verses was changed compared with the album version and earlier concert ones, although, again, checking the videos I found that he had already done it late last year (for example, Boston, December 16, 2012). In Pula (as in other concerts this year) the third verse (“I should have seen it coming…”) came first, the first verse (“I caught the darkness…”) third, and the song ended with the third verse again (there was also the humming – or whatever you may call it – before introducing the drummer). There often seemed to have been difficulties with this song in concerts last year, so perhaps this is the reason behind the change. Musically the song stands very well now, but still, I wonder why the order of the verses was altered so radically.

“Amen” – If I heard correctly (and I haven’t been able to find a video yet), LC sang in the last verse: “the Eye of the Camps”, rather than “the Camp”; Forum members will remember the debate about this line, some people believing, even after the album came out with lyrics printed, that they could hear him sing “cam” or something else rather than “camp”. However, it was clear then, and becomes clearer now, that he refers to the death camps of the Holocaust (and probably also to all other camps where people were and still are being tortured and killed). As often before, LC coined a new expression based on well-known ones, such as “the eye of the storm” or “the eye of the needle”.

“Lover Lover Lover” – The new musical phrasing was somewhat surprising, although on listening back it turns out that the change evolved gradually, since the first phase of the tour. On the whole it is a somewhat different but equally satisfying version of the song.

“Chelsea Hotel” – Here again the change is not in the lyrics but in the arrangement; I found this recent rendition with minimal accompaniment especially touching, better than the earlier tour versions with the whole band accompanying LC.

“I’m Your Man” – This isn’t new, but again, a change compared with the album version, with words added to the line: “I’ll wear an old man’s mask for you”, which is somewhat ironic…

“Famous Blue Raincoat” – This is not a new change either; for a while now LC has been ending the song with “Sincerely, A friend”, as Jennifer Warnes did on her album, rather than with the original “Sincerely, L. Cohen”. This could be meaningful, as rather than a letter to himself, the song can now be interpreted as coming to him from someone else; both options always existed, but now LC seems to prefer one of the two.

It should be mentioned once again how great the band is and how wonderfully they are all working together (as Tom also indicated elsewhere). Compared with the earlier band combination, with Dino Soldo sometimes taking central stage, the current band is much more balanced. And although Bob Metzger is missed, Mitch Watkins is a very good replacement. Alexandru Bublitchi’s violin is a great addition, although I remain puzzled by the fact that his inclusion did not lead to the revival of some great songs in which the violin had an important part, in particular “The Guests” and “The Window”; and what about “Came So Far For Beauty”? Unfortunately, “The Gypsy’s Wife” is the only song from Recent Songs performed on the tour. Apart from Death of a Ladies’ Man, for obvious reasons (the only song from it ever performed in concerts, back in the 80’s, was “Memories”), Recent Songs is the most neglected album during these past five years of touring, and this fact still puzzles me greatly (Dear Heather should also be mentioned as an album totally ignored in the tour, but here the reasons must be different, perhaps due to its somewhat experimental nature).

After all this, and after leaving the Arena with an unmistakable sense of satisfaction, dare I say that something was missing? Let me first mention what Jarkko reported elsewhere (on the “Pula meetup reports” thread), quoting a local guide in the Arena who said, reportedly: "a few days ago we had here Leonard Cohen, you know, the man of those depressing songs"; this, of course, makes us all laugh, and had that guide been to the concert she would probably have ended up with a different impression. And this is the point that somewhat bothered me: it was all so joyful, that something from the “depressing” side was missing (and I don’t mean to say it was ever “depressing” but rather, for me, uplifting, but you know what I mean). I am, of course, very happy that our Man is in such great shape (although a bit too thin, perhaps), and that he is still willing and able to give such great performances and gain more admirers; I’m also happy for him for no longer being shackled by depression. Elsewhere on the Forum someone complained about the tour, asking “Is it becoming slightly stale?”; I would certainly not say “stale”, but how about slightly too slick? I could see that the audience enjoyed his ending the concert with “Save the Last Dance”, but am I the only one who would have preferred an original LC song? (From the Old Ideas album I very much missed “Different Sides”, which was performed, if I’m not mistaken, a few times early on in the current tour but was dropped long ago; LC actually rehearsed it at the soundcheck the night before the concert, and there’s a lovely video of it on the Forum. Also rehearsed but not performed were “Ain’t No Cure For Love”, “I Can’t Forget”, “Anthem”, “Light As The Breeze”, “Anyhow” with two new verses, and, especially, “Waiting For The Miracle” - go figure why none of them was actually in the concert; at least they are on video, with links in the “Concert Report” thread, and warm thanks to all involved: to LC and the band who gave a free concert, to those who videotaped behind the fence and loaded and linked the videos – I guess it was mostly the work of Roman Gavrilin, so special thanks to him).

Well, I’m not really complaining; it’s great the way LC and the band come together so perfectly now, and how his happiness is shining through. So perhaps it is just some strains of misguided nostalgia for the times it all sounded different? Or to earlier occasions when, for some particular reason, I was deeply moved (such as the “last” concert in Las Vegas, almost three years ago)? Is it indeed better not trying to relive old experiences? I’m not sure. However, for what they are worth, I felt like sharing these thoughts on the Forum.

Sincerely,

Doron 8)
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mutti
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Re: Some thoughts following the Pula concert

Post by mutti » Tue Aug 13, 2013 4:06 pm

Thank you Doron for your report, your honesty and all your thoughts. It sounds like Pula was indeed a memorable experience and a good one to have chosen to go to. How lucky to have heard the songs the night before that were not played at the actual concert. An extra bonus. I love it when Leonard adds different songs and appreciate all that goes into each performance. There are so many songs I would love to hear and hope one day they will slip in here and there.
Thanks again
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2013 Oakland x 2/New York City x 2/Winnipeg...
cohenadmirer
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Re: Some thoughts following the Pula concert

Post by cohenadmirer » Thu Aug 15, 2013 9:35 pm

Thanks for those reflections.It's hard to know why the heart responds the way it does .

For me the 2013 concerts have left me just as moved , just as entertained , but also with a few more laughs - especially at the concert in saint john , new Brunswick, in April . His capacity for apparently self deprecating 'comc timing' has improved - though he's always had that capacity

Re 'the future' i'm almost certain that he hasn't sung ' anal sex' in any of the 2008-13 concerts .
Leonard's work resonates
Brighton 1979; Dublin , Manchester june 2008; glasgow, manchester Nov 2008; Liverpool july 2009 ; Barcelona Sept 2009 ;marseille, lille september2010: Ghent August 2012;Barcelona October 2012;Montreal x2 November 2012: 2013; Saint John NB April 2013; Brussels June 2013;Manchester August 2013; Leeds , Birmingham September 2013; Amsterdam September 2013
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Goldin
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Re: Some thoughts following the Pula concert

Post by Goldin » Thu Aug 15, 2013 9:47 pm

cohenadmirer wrote:Re 'the future' i'm almost certain that he hasn't sung ' anal sex' in any of the 2008-13 concerts .
OK, Who Noticed The Reappearance Of Anal Sex In The Moscow Version Of “The Future?”

Re-Update Re Leonard Cohen’s Return To Original Lyrics Of “The Future”
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leonardthecat
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Re: Some thoughts following the Pula concert

Post by leonardthecat » Thu Aug 15, 2013 9:49 pm

I was just about to say Leonard definitely sang the original lyric in Moscow 2010. I was at the concert and it was certainly a surprise.
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Goldin
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Re: Some thoughts following the Pula concert

Post by Goldin » Thu Aug 15, 2013 9:49 pm

Great post, Doron, by the way! Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

Mandy, it's so funny to watch the Kremlin video, the very next moment after that line. Looks like a conspiracy 8)
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Re: Some thoughts following the Pula concert

Post by cohenadmirer » Thu Aug 15, 2013 9:58 pm

i stand corrected
Just once in all those concerts?
Leonard's work resonates
Brighton 1979; Dublin , Manchester june 2008; glasgow, manchester Nov 2008; Liverpool july 2009 ; Barcelona Sept 2009 ;marseille, lille september2010: Ghent August 2012;Barcelona October 2012;Montreal x2 November 2012: 2013; Saint John NB April 2013; Brussels June 2013;Manchester August 2013; Leeds , Birmingham September 2013; Amsterdam September 2013
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leonardthecat
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Re: Some thoughts following the Pula concert

Post by leonardthecat » Thu Aug 15, 2013 9:59 pm

I just watched it again Roman - I remember Leonard looked at Dino before he sang it, and Dino nodded at him.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pCRl7-Inuck

Great review of Pula, Doran
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Goldin
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Re: Some thoughts following the Pula concert

Post by Goldin » Thu Aug 15, 2013 10:01 pm

From the second post (by DrHGuy):
While Leonard Cohen did indeed revert to the phrase, “Give me crack and anal sex,” at the Moscow Concert, he had also used the original lyrics previously.

A review of an October 1, 2010 Stuttgart Concert bootleg demonstrates that the original lyrics were sung at that performance.

Sources who attended the September 15, 2010 Caen show have informed me that “Give me crack and anal sex” were the lyrics used there as well. I have not yet found a bootleg or video of “The Future” from that concert.
Not that much though, agree.
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DBCohen
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Re: Some thoughts following the Pula concert

Post by DBCohen » Fri Aug 16, 2013 3:34 am

Thank you all for your responses, and for the links concerning the “anal sex” / “careless sex” debate. In any case, I don’t think it’s a matter of censorship but of LC’s playfulness and his habit of changing the lyrics of his songs; as everybody knows, “Bird On A Wire” and “Hallelujah” have undergone endless transformations, as did some other songs (I particularly like the version of “Tonight Will Be Fine” on Live Songs).
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Re: Some thoughts following the Pula concert

Post by Judy » Fri Aug 16, 2013 9:01 am

Elsewhere on the Forum someone complained about the tour, asking “Is it becoming slightly stale?”; I would certainly not say “stale”, but how about slightly too slick?
Thank you Doron for bringing it all together …
You use the word “slick” and yes, I think the concert in Pula was more slick but definitely not too slick. They’ve all, well almost all, been working together for five years now, so the show’s bound to be more polished.
There was a feeling of joyful complicity at the Pula concert which I thought was absolutely wonderful, completely different from the emotionally laden concert at the Manchester Opera House in 2008 and different again from the last concert in Las Vegas in 2010. No two concerts can ever be the same, and “wonderfully joyful complicity” is how I’ll remember the Pula concert.
DBCohen
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Re: Some thoughts following the Pula concert

Post by DBCohen » Fri Aug 16, 2013 2:17 pm

Thanks, Judy, and you must be right that each concerts leaves you with somewhat different feelings; perhaps I should have gone to a few more… And my use of “slick” was slightly provocative, no doubt, to try and see what other people think.

I forgot to mention earlier another innovation of this year’s concerts, and quite a surprising one: LC’s use of “God damn” at least twice during the concert. I seem to remember that one time was in “So Long, Marianne”: “And just when I climbed this whole God damn mountain side”; I’m not sure about the other time. The man is certainly loosening up…
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Goldin
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Re: Some thoughts following the Pula concert

Post by Goldin » Fri Aug 16, 2013 2:35 pm

DBCohen wrote:I forgot to mention earlier another innovation of this year’s concerts, and quite a surprising one: LC’s use of “God damn” at least twice during the concert. I seem to remember that one time was in “So Long, Marianne”: “And just when I climbed this whole God damn mountain side”; I’m not sure about the other time. The man is certainly loosening up…
Isn't it "You know damn well that you can, I'm your man"?
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DBCohen
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Re: Some thoughts following the Pula concert

Post by DBCohen » Fri Aug 16, 2013 2:54 pm

Yes, I believe you're right, thanks. :)

Was there another time, though? I have a vague recollection that there was a second g.d.
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Re: Some thoughts following the Pula concert

Post by holydove » Fri Aug 16, 2013 9:39 pm

DBCohen wrote:
Was there another time, though? I have a vague recollection that there was a second g.d.
Leonard often sings, "Tell me again/ when I've seen through the god-damn horror", in Amen. And one time, I remember him singing, ". .. when I've seen though YOUR god-damn horror"; I thought that was particularly interesting. . .(don't remember which concert that was, though).
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