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Re: CONCERT REPORT: Sydney, Australia - December 2, 2013

Posted: Tue Dec 03, 2013 2:35 pm
by AlanM
Rafael Darkness solo 12.jpg
The Darkness drum solo, while LC chants.
Rafael A 20.jpg
I'm busy.
Rafael (2) A 40.jpg
I caught the stick!

Re: CONCERT REPORT: Sydney, Australia - December 2, 2013

Posted: Tue Dec 03, 2013 2:38 pm
by AlanM
Neil 45.jpg
Neil at work
Neil (2)A 60.jpg
I love this job
Larsen boat 14.jpg
Neil arriving at work?

Re: CONCERT REPORT: Sydney, Australia - December 2, 2013

Posted: Tue Dec 03, 2013 2:50 pm
by AlanM
Hattie A 30.jpg
Hattie Webb
Charley 2 28.jpg
Charley Webb
Sharon & Leonard 20.jpg
The Collaborators

Re: CONCERT REPORT: Sydney, Australia - December 2, 2013

Posted: Tue Dec 03, 2013 2:59 pm
by AlanM
Javier A 30.jpg
Who By Fire solo
Angels A 30.jpg
Charlie, Hattie & Sharon
Stage 18.jpg
Now the stage is bare, and I'm standing there, with emptiness all around ...

Re: CONCERT REPORT: Sydney, Australia - December 2, 2013

Posted: Tue Dec 03, 2013 3:54 pm
by AlanM
Opening remarks 1st set.

More to follow:
I'm Your Man
If It Be Your Will, including LC's intro
Closing Time
Save The Last Dance For Me

Banter before and during Tower of Song


Re: CONCERT REPORT: Sydney, Australia - December 2, 2013

Posted: Tue Dec 03, 2013 4:43 pm
by AlanM
Banter with the audience at the start of and during Tower of Song, outlining the six ages of allure of the male to the opposite sex.


Re: CONCERT REPORT: Sydney, Australia - December 2, 2013

Posted: Tue Dec 03, 2013 9:42 pm
by holydove
AlanM wrote:
Banter with the audience at the start of and during Tower of Song, outlining the six ages of allure of the male to the opposite sex.

Alan, thank you so much for that - the monologue is priceless (though I hope Leonard knows how irresistible he really is!), & your video is excellent!! I'm so glad you took the time to speak with the security woman & enlighten her to the fact that your type of camera is allowed in the venue - so thank you for that too, & for your beautiful photos & reports; & I look forward to seeing all your other videos.

Thank you also to Dean for writing out the entire monologue, & for your great concert reports.

And thanks to everyone who has kept us in touch with the pulse of the tour, with all your delightful reports, photos & videos of the Australian concerts. Your efforts are greatly appreciated.

Re: CONCERT REPORT: Sydney, Australia - December 2, 2013

Posted: Wed Dec 04, 2013 12:42 am
by AlanM
If It Be Your Will
I'm Your Man
Closing Time
Save The Last Dance For Me

That's all from the Sydney Opera House.


Re: CONCERT REPORT: Sydney, Australia - December 2, 2013

Posted: Wed Dec 04, 2013 2:44 am
by Hartmut
Thank you, Alan.

Re: CONCERT REPORT: Sydney, Australia - December 2, 2013

Posted: Wed Dec 04, 2013 2:53 am
by AlanM
Leif soaks up the applause on stage at the Sydney Opera House
Leif & caption.jpg
Alan watching Leif taking a photo of Javier & Leonard
My still shot of Leif the photographer didn't turn out, but his of me did.
However I got him on video!


Re: CONCERT REPORT: Sydney, Australia - December 2, 2013

Posted: Wed Dec 04, 2013 3:21 am
by B4real
I love your photos, words and videos. Thanks for all your efforts, much appreciated! See you and Dean in Adelaide.
Thanks everyone for posting your thoughts etc. I knew it would be a great night for you all!

Bon voyage! We had a wonderful time! Ah, to turn back the clock and do it all again!

Re: CONCERT REPORT: Sydney, Australia - December 2, 2013

Posted: Wed Dec 04, 2013 4:31 am
by Andrew (Darby)
Thanks Alan and Dean for your always interesting and informative reports (including your photos & videos, Alan)! 8)

I look forward to the climax of the Oz tour in Adelaide with you both - along with Bev, Murray, and the other Cohenites who will be there - for what will undoubtedly be a "mixed feelings" concert, being the last one in our country. :?

Andrew :)

Re: CONCERT REPORT: Sydney, Australia - December 2, 2013

Posted: Wed Dec 04, 2013 5:06 am
by sereneava
Oh Alan, your videos are so good. Such a joy watching them and reliving the night.

Re: CONCERT REPORT: Sydney, Australia - December 2, 2013

Posted: Wed Dec 04, 2013 2:23 pm
by dce
Concert Report, Part 1

So it’s been a couple of days since I was fortunate enough to be in a capacity audience at the Sydney Opera House which witnessed Leonard Cohen’s “old ideas” brought to vivid life by the United Heart Touring Company. Even with the distance of time, I still find it a little difficult to sift through all the various impressions and memories that are associated with this amazing night. I’ve seen Leonard perform live on a number of occasions in different places around Australia and New Zealand – but there is no doubt that this particular show was something unique and special. Partly this was thanks to a spectacular venue – one which, at least to Australians, stands out as an iconic symbol of the heights of artistic achievement – but equally it was due to the sheer emotional onslaught conjured up by Leonard and his band.

Those on this forum who have long memories may remember that in both 2009 and 2010 I spent quite some time and energy following Leonard’s tours of Australia and New Zealand, taking in the majority of shows performed on both occasions. Sadly, for the 2013 tour, circumstances have conspired to make that impossible this time around – indeed, until quite recently I expected that my only encounter with Leonard this time around would be in my home city (Adelaide). But then, quite unexpectedly, the second-night shows in both Melbourne and Sydney were re-scheduled and moved from the (rather impersonal) giant entertainment complexes to much smaller venues. The show in Sydney was moved to the iconic Sydney Opera House, whose unique outlines and stunning setting would probably be familiar to anyone who has ever visited Australia as a tourist. Ironically, despite having lived my entire life in Australia, I had only ever once set foot inside the Opera House – and that was (back in the early 1980s) as a tourist myself, when I took the guided tour. But even despite my first-hand unfamiliarity with the venue as a place for performing arts, I was very much aware of the lofty reputation assigned to this place. Certainly it is the most famous of venues in Australia, even as it is one which for many artists gracing its stage represents a signature moment of recognition in their career. So … needless to say, the news of the relocation of Leonard’s concert to this iconic place immediately piqued my interest.

After clearing quite a number of logistical hurdles – not least the fact that, since the partly-sold concert had been transferred from a much larger venue, it was close to “sold out” the moment tickets went on sale – I had tickets for myself and my partner Cathy and travel plans in place. I subsequently found out that AlanM from this forum was also planning on making the Opera House Show (already in possession of excellent tickets for the original second-night concert that was cancelled). So all was set for a memorable night … and a first experience “taking in a show” at the Sydney Opera House.

Conquering Icons

As it turned out, the visit to the Opera House was not the only famous Sydney icon I was to tick off the “to-do” list on December 2. In the interests of making the long trip from Adelaide worthwhile (we travelled about 1000Km each way), earlier in the day we also took the 3.5 hour walking tour to climb up to the top of Sydney’s famous Harbour Bridge (the one that looks like a coat-hanger). We were blessed with a beautiful sunny day, so the view of the Harbour from atop the bridge was absolutely stunning. I would very much recommend this to anyone visiting Sydney – it was a unique and impressive experience. Of course one of the main sights that you can see from that high vantage is … the Opera House, which is literally directly across the other side of Circular Quay (the site where of first British settlement in Australia).

After half a day spent conquering the Harbour Bridge, we were well prepared for taking in the concert … but before that we had planned to meet up with AlanM and have some pre-show dinner. Finding restaurants in this part of Sydney which are not fully geared-up as over-priced “tourist traps” is not the easiest mission, but we managed to somehow find a place that offered simple pub-style food and wasn’t completely a rip-off. It was great to catch up with Alan who had already seen a couple of the earlier shows on the Australian leg of the tour.

A Night At The Opera

A meal and a short walk later we were at the Opera House. One thing which I had been entirely unsure about was what kind of “dress code” might be considered the norm for such an event. I know it sounds stupid – surely everyone just wears whatever they like to a Leonard Cohen concert – but I had already been rather taken aback when attending a couple of Leonard’s Sydney concerts in 2009 and spotting a not-insignificant retinue of concert goers who had come out dressed as though they were taking in the Symphony. I swear I even saw women with mink stoles. So, given the even more “upmarket” nature of this Sydney venue I really wondered what the average audience member might be wearing – to play it safe I decided that, at least for the night, I should also be a “lazy bastard living in a suit.” Of course I needn’t have worried … there was a vast array of different standards of formal and informal dress. It was just “anything goes.” Compared to concert I’d attended in previous years, however, I’d have to say that I saw a lot fewer fedoras in the crowd …

One mildly amusing escapade transpired as Alan and I tried to figure out which of the many entrances to the Opera House we needed to go through. After having earlier spotted the UHTC merchandise stand off the far side of a foyer area, we made our way around past a set of entrances into an adjacent building … only to find that we were suddenly in a sea of female concert-goers whose average age must have hovered around 12. My astute partner Cathy questioning whether this was really the crowd for the Cohen concert quickly spotted that many of the young girls were carrying a programme marked “Cinderella.” Clearly we were in the wrong part of the Opera House. I’m sure our evening would have been entirely different had we not realised our mistake.

A quick stop at the aforementioned merchandise stand scored me an “Old Ideas” T-shirt (from a new batch which correctly lists the revised tour schedule) and a programme. From there it was straight to our seats and right into the show.

The Concert

It’s always hard to sum up the experience of being at any live performance – and in particular one of Leonard’s concerts. Certainly it’s easy to layer superlatives upon one another, praising or condemning, but ultimately it’s always a purely personal and subjective assessment which somehow falls short of capturing the true experience of “being there.” Normally I don’t bother trying to describe the magic of a Leonard Cohen concert – if you’ve been to one, you understand it, if you haven’t … well you’ll only really “get it” when you’ve seen a show or two or twenty. But it is useful to try to compare the experience of one concert against that of others, so in that spirit I’ll attempt to capture some of my impressions of the Sydney Opera House show.

The first thing that struck me about the auditorium of the Opera House is how much smaller and more intimate it is than pretty much every venue where I have seen Leonard. Whether it be massive entertainment centres or huge and sprawling outdoor stages, (almost) every other Cohen concert I’ve seen has been an affair on a vast scale. The inside of the Opera House felt much smaller than those … and, despite the fact that my seat was close to the back of the stalls (not far from the mixing desk), it felt really very close to the stage. I can only think that folks like Alan who were right up the front must have felt virtually in the lap of the performers themselves. One side-effect of this smaller situation is that there was no need for video screens, as often feature in large-scale venues … and that also meant that there were no video cameras on or around the stage to drive those screens. All of that contributed to a much more “intimate” vibe, which I think played very well to this particular audience.

Dean (from Adelaide)

Re: CONCERT REPORT: Sydney, Australia - December 2, 2013

Posted: Wed Dec 04, 2013 2:28 pm
by dce
Concert Report, Part 2

The Performers

The whole band seemed to be having a good night, with huge amounts of energy displayed by Leonard and all band members. There was (as is often the case) a good amount of interaction between members of the band – for the most part this took the form of bowing or other deference in recognition of a particularly fine solo or musical contribution. I can remember seeing Leonard doing this often in previous performances – and he did here too, but other members of the band seemed similarly deferential with the Webb Sisters and Sharon bowing to Leonard at a few points and Leonard and Javier deflecting audience adulation backwards and forwards between themselves. The band seemed extremely comfortable as a unit, clearly having played together a great deal. There even seemed to be a level of playfulness between them (see below), which is always a healthy sign.

Costume-wise, not much would seem to have changed on-stage since the last concert I was at (in 2010). The most notable change I saw was that the Webb sisters were not sporting the fedoras they had previously worn, instead each having some kind of gold jewellery – not quite a tiara, but serving a similar purpose. Leonard continued to be his well-dressed self, still sporting his signature bolo tie.
Obviously the new tour has introduced some new lighting and choreography in a few places – I noticed a couple of things:
  • During “The Future” as Leonard sang “that’s an order!” the Webb sisters saluted back at him.
  • Also during “The Future” the section about the “white girls dancing” was accompanied by a jaunty dance move by the Webb sisters (rather than the obligatory cartwheels of earlier concerts); similarly even Roscoe’s little dance move and twirl during the “white man dancing” line seemed to have been elaborated a bit
Another more impromptu bit of joking between band and crew saw Roscoe’s stand-up bass sporting a hat on top as he started to play during “Famous Blue Raincoat.” Amazingly he seemed not to notice for a verse or more, but at an opportune moment he took it off and threw it at Neil Larsen. I’m not sure whose hat it was.

The Music

There were obviously some major changes in the musical arrangement of many of the songs since the last tour and a number of new songs were performed. For the most part I think this was definitely a good thing – after having seen many (excellent) performances of the evergreen songs that have made an appearance in pretty much every show, I was certainly happy to see some of these take some new musical directions. Much of this was occasioned by the introduction of Alex’s violin into the mix (at the expense of Dino’s brass) and this certainly created a different feel, as has been debated for many months on the forum. Overall I didn’t mind the “new sound” and some songs certainly benefited from the new instrumentation – although the particular set list played at Sydney didn’t take as much advantage of Alex’s skills as it might have. There are a few songs where I definitely miss the strident brassy tones, though … and “I’m Your Man” without a saxophone still seems in my opinion somehow to miss the right note of “tawdry brilliance” that makes the song great.

But overall the musical performances were first-rate, including Leonard’s harshly plucked guitar, complete with its occasionally bleak fret-buzz. Javier’s solo intro to “Who By Fire” obviously continues to drift through the infinite space of improvisation, but I was impressed by the fact that the subtle backing to that solo is now a bit more involved as well, which adds some nicely complementary texture.

Overall the musical style drifted significantly throughout the performance – certainly nobody could complain that any of the songs sounded remotely similar in style to any other. This is obviously a very good thing, and I’m sure something which has been achieved through long honing and performance. While not all of the musical styles entirely appealed to me, even those that weren’t my particular “cup of tea” were executed with such technical precision that I certainly could not fault them.

The Sound

There is no doubt about it: the Sydney Opera House acoustics (at least from where I was sitting) were simply brilliant – far and away better than any indoor venue I have ever been at. The sound was beautifully textured and crisp, as though the performers were playing right in front of you. It was such a joy to hear that it made me realize how acoustically poor some of the giant “concrete sheds” really are. Doubtless a part of this would have been due to the much smaller (or rather narrower) than usual auditorium, but I’m sure a bit part of it was just down to the fact that the Opera House was simply designed better.

The only (very minor) gripe that I have about the sound quality and mix was the rather noticeable amount of dynamic compression applied to the Webb Sisters’ vocals. While this certainly gave their vocals a much more “radio” sound I think it detracted a bit from the subtlety of their impressive vocal range. But that’s rather a specific and personal opinion I guess … they still sounded amazing.

Songs and Lyrics

The set-list for the Sydney Opera House show was been pretty standard for the entire Australian leg of the tour (or so I understand). As always I was keeping an ear out for lyric variations or other similar curiosities. I noticed just a few:
  • The last line of “Famous Blue Raincoat” was “Sincerely, A Friend” (the Jennifer Warnes version) rather than the more typical “Sincerely, L. Cohen”
  • As has been the case in the last several concerts the substitution of the word “Cojones” into “Going Home” was there – I think that’s enough to say that this is now the official live lyric
  • The verse order of “Darkness” was mixed up relative to the order in the CD version and that performed prior to the CD being released. This version started not with the “I caught the darkness” verse but with the “I should have seen it coming” verse. Normally I would put this kind of thing down to a mistake on Leonard’s part, but he had such a mischievous grin on his face both before and during that I wonder instead if it was a deliberate substitution (maybe not for the first time) … or even a deliberate “trick” on the rest of the band.

Dean (from Adelaide)