CONCERT REPORTS: Glasgow, November 5 and 6

September 21 - November 30, 2008. Concert reports, set lists, photos, media coverage, multimedia links, recollections...
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CONCERT REPORTS: Glasgow, November 5 and 6

Post by commonweal » Thu Nov 06, 2008 3:40 am

First, welcome Leonard, members of the band, members of the crew, and everyone else. Welcome back to the UK. One of the emotional heartlands of the 2008 tour(s). Welcome.

I'm just back home from tonight's concert in Glasgow. My fourth of the tour. My fifth will be tomorrow night, but that will be special, as it will (on her birthday) be my wife's first Leonard Cohen concert. (And we'll be in the front row.) Happy birthday.

But to tonight.

First, I want to say something about Democracy. At the end of Hallelujah, while one of the (surprisingly few) standing ovations was calming itself, Leonard walked to the front of the stage, fedora in his hand, and recited (with no background music) the following:

"I'm sentimental if you know what I mean
I love the country but I can't stand the scene.
And I'm neither left or right
I'm just staying home tonight,
getting lost in that hopeless little screen.
But I'm stubborn as those garbage bags
that Time cannot decay,
I'm junk but I'm still holding up
this little wild bouquet:

This is my love letter to the U.S.A."

And then there followed the most mesmerisingly joyous rendition of Democracy that anyone is likely ever to hear.

Sharon and Roscoe, in particular, could just not stop smiling (or so it seemed to me).

Second, some other smallish remarks, before a more general reflection. (1) Leonard used a black guitar again - looked like the same model as in the summer tour (but I may be wrong about that). (2) There was a lovely localised variant of the chatter at the end of Tower of Song: as he was encouraging the angels to carry on singing him (to sleep) he said, among other things, "... let Guy Fawkes burn ...". Not much, perhaps, but I thought it was a touching letting-the-audience-know moment that he knew precisely where and when he was tonight. (3) Sisters of Mercy was re-included (but no Avalanche or Heart with no Companion or Chelsea Hotel tonight) but formed part of the first set, not part of the encores. (Once I'm done with this post I'll post the full setlist on the relevant page, unless anyone else beats me to it.) I thought it worked brilliantly in the first set, coming after Who by Fire? and before That's no way to say Goodbye and Anthem. It made the last sequence of the first set incredibly intense. For me it was one of the highlights of the night. (4) Hallelujah was quite differently approached from the way it was sung earlier in the year. Then it was intense beyond belief with, as many have remarked, Leonard appearing to want to reclaim the song from Buckley et al et al. Now he's achieved this, he steps back from the intensity of the performance and sings the chorus much more softly. The new softness is echoed in Neil Larsson's now exquisite Hammond playing. There is still great energy in the song, but the crescendo is in the verse and diminishes once you get to the chorus. I could not believe how effective it was this way round. There is subtlety (sp?) and angst in the song again, as well is anger. Tonight, it was a moment of sheer genius.

Overall, it was of course another fabulous evening. It was the most polished of the four concerts I've attended. Leonard's voice was strong and true, as in Edinburgh in July, and (as at Edinburgh) considerably stronger than it had been at the beginning of the tour. The man can really sing at the moment, you know. Band-wise, there were all sorts of subtle changes of tone, emphasis, accompaniment, etc, which in every instance added to the performance without being intrusive. Javier Mas has come more out of his shell, and shines and shines and shines. In Who by Fire?, Gypsy's Wife, The Partisan and so many more he is outstanding, and central. Dino Soldo is more subtle and, as a result, more effective. I think the same is true of Neil Larson. Bob Metzger has known how to pull this off since day one, it seems to me. (I like the line that someone offered in a review of a concert a couple of weeks ago that Bob Metzger seems to play fewer notes every time one sees him.) Roscoe Beck and the "prince of precision" go from strength to strength. Both were excellent all night. The angels have been flawless in each of the concerts I've seen and were again tonight. The value they add to these concerts is immense and it was a real privilege to sit just in front of them, watching them excel in their work, this evening. So, this is a band that is absolutely in the groove. And boy do they look like they're enjoying themselves. It must be fun to be this damn good.

You may say that there is always something to complain about. For me, it's become the opening half-dozen songs. These have not changed (have they?) since the tour opened in Canada in May, and with Leonard now not chatting to the audience between songs until the very end of the first set, the first half hour has become rather formulaic. I'm sure that this is a problem caused only by the luxury of being able to go to many concerts on the tour. And perhaps it is not a problem at all given the quality of the material and the delivery (among these songs are Dance me..., Bird on the Wire and Everybody Knows, after all). And In my Secret Life has developed since the summer. It's now slower, I think, and Sharon takes a more prominent role. So shut up commonweal and stop trying to pick holes in what is a near perfect show.

One final point to note, people. The show was filmed. There were three cameras at the front of the audience, at least one (controlled remotely) on the stage, and at least one further back in the auditorium. Methinks DVD, maybe...?

Roll on tomorrow. Sleep well, everyone.
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Re: Glasgow, November 5-6

Post by jimbo747 » Thu Nov 06, 2008 4:17 am

Wonderfull night, great venue,way better than Edinburgh in the "summer". LC was in superb form seemed to enjoy it and I agree that Democracy and Hallelujah were sung with a new intensity.You have to wonder how he keeps going night after night......
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Re: Glasgow, November 5-6

Post by Ms.Bojangles » Thu Nov 06, 2008 6:58 am

Ahh folks... tonight was wonderful!!!

I took my Aunt who was a fan back in the day but had lost touched - she was sooo impressed!

Manchester, Edinburgh & Glasgow... and I still want more! Why oh why didn't I just push the boat out one more time for a ticket to tomorrow (tech. today)'s show??!!

Can't express how good the Webb sisters were tonight... actually brought a wee tear to my eye.

...And as always, Leonard! ... which needs no words!

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Re: Glasgow, November 5-6

Post by tommylen » Thu Nov 06, 2008 10:23 am

A simply wonderful performance by everyone.
The band seemed to have a ball.
The Venue was superb.
I thought that the band worked hard for the attentive audience.It was just great.No- it was fantastically orgasmic.

The Auditorium staff wouldnt allow the show to carry on and Leonard had to cut out Wither thou goest.
It didnt spoil what was a night to savour.
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Re: Glasgow, November 5-6

Post by commonweal » Thu Nov 06, 2008 10:38 am

Two other things I noticed. The stage is covered with carpets/rugs. And, at the end, with the crowd pleading for more, Leonard looked at his watch and said that he'd love to play on, but "well, I'm a union man...". Glasgow, which has always been a union town, loved that!
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Re: Glasgow, November 5-6

Post by Womanfromaroom » Thu Nov 06, 2008 11:48 am

Yes, I noticed a few days ago at the Oberhausen concert, too that the fisrt set before the intermission can appear quite static compared to the rest of the performance ... But isn't this rather natural? I mean, doesn't this give the band an opportunity to come to know the audience, to get into their specific dynamics, as it were, and to see what they tend to react to? After the soundcheck in the afternoons, it might be a kind of "audience check"... Just guessing!
Aaaah, commonweal, I envy you because you have got another concert ahead of you tonight, and first row tickets! Please wish your wife a "Happy Birthday" from me, too, even though I haven't met you yet (what a great way to celebrate!), and throw in a few little extra claps from me for Leonard and the band during the applause, will you? (Not that I think you are not enthusiastic enough yourself...) ;-)
"You thought that it could never happen / to all the people that you became"...
Love Calls You By Your Name
John Clements
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Re: Glasgow, November 5-6

Post by John Clements » Thu Nov 06, 2008 1:48 pm

Glasgow Armadillo was just the perfect location to see and hear Lenny. I was at the Edinburgh concert earlier in the year and loved it, but lets face it, outdoor venues are great on a beautiful evening on the Continent, not Scotland in the " Summer".
You could see Lenny warming up and starting to really enjoy himself as the Concert went on, and if it wasn't for the 11pm curfew, I think he might have just combined last night and tonight into one concert.

Thank you Lenny.... I will also never forget the smile on Sharon Robinsons face as the cheers rang out during " Democracy".

Ps Being a massive Celtic fan, even their game with Manchester Utd took second place to the legend that is Leonard Cohen.
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Re: Glasgow, November 5-6

Post by tommylen » Thu Nov 06, 2008 2:00 pm


Ive still got it going mate.Your right about Lenny and the band getting into the concert last night.
They seemed to be right up for it.
Travelling again tonight which will make a round trip of over 400 miles
and must grab a bit of sleep before i set off.

I thought that the audience last night helped make a memorable concert.
The roars were reminiscent of any Parkhead crowd.

I too noticed the filming and I look forward to the finished product.

A fantastic night.
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Re: Glasgow, November 5-6

Post by I'm Your Man » Thu Nov 06, 2008 3:05 pm

I'm going tonight and I'm really looking forward to a special evening. Do you know if cameras are permitted at the Armadillo? I know they may have strict rules but a lot of gigs I go to people still manage to use mobile phones to take pics! Did anyone notice anyone clicking away last night?
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Re: Glasgow, November 5-6

Post by ladydi » Thu Nov 06, 2008 3:39 pm


Thanks so much for your fabulous review of Leonard's concert! It seems that Glasgow Nov 5th is now entered into the list of transcendent LC concerts (Manchester, Dublin et al)! I was curious to hear what might be said by him the day after our history changing election and his recitation followed by Democracy could not have been more perfect :D :D I would have loved to have seen Sharon's smile :) Obviously they are as pleased as so many of us in America are!

Enjoy your front row seats tonight and a very Happy Birthday to your wife! I can't think of a better gift! :)
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Re: Glasgow, November 5-6

Post by graham t » Thu Nov 06, 2008 3:54 pm

I was at Edinburgh in the summer, which was fantastic but this was even better. Somehow the performance had a richness to it and seemed more settled in a way. There wasn't the constant thanking and acknowledgement of the band which i felt was a bit overdone in Edinburgh.
The thanking of the musicians seemed more gracious and subtle in a way . A case of less is more. An impeccable sound and great acoustics. Though i felt the audience were a little more subdued than i expected. A raucous Glasgow crowd can be quite something.
I am going again tonight and am looking forward to it immensely. Sometimes doing two nights in a row can give you a differant perspective and a chance to savour newaspects of the show. Something thios good can be hard to take in all at once !!
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Re: Glasgow, November 5-6

Post by few cloudy » Thu Nov 06, 2008 4:34 pm

Yes, cameras were allowed last night.

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Re: Glasgow, November 5-6

Post by osmachar » Thu Nov 06, 2008 4:50 pm

Was great last night!

After 2 open air LC concerts this summer (Edinburgh, Loerrach) I was happy to be indoors and sitting down 8)

One wee point though - I felt LC could have done some talking maybe after 2 or 3 songs rather than wait till almost thw whole first half was over. And he didn't introduce the band members regularly as he did in the summer, which I thought was a bit of a shame.

But anyway - it was great and I'm getting to go again tonight!!
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Re: Glasgow, November 5-6

Post by danny » Thu Nov 06, 2008 5:11 pm

When I last saw him a quarter of a century it was my favourite concert but last night was better. They played a great set-list perfectly. Democracy seemed to have been written specifically for last night. The Webb sisters 'If It Be Your Will' was excellent, as were their cartwheels which Leonard seems ready to attempt himself as he bounced off stage.

I know it is a minor point but the stage lighting was the best I've seen, especially where the white spots on the band was drenched in purple, it seemed like dawn in a city.

If you are going to the auditorium tonight for the first time then turn up early as the inside of the armidillo is confusing and lot's of people were late for the first song.
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Re: Glasgow, November 5-6

Post by A.Sukitu » Thu Nov 06, 2008 8:36 pm

To add to the above comments:
I saw the 13 July 0 concert - this concert was almost 4 months later, and the music is richer and tighter. And the whole thing still ends after 3 solid hours - and feels that given the chance, it could go on forever.
Leonard skips on and offstage like a gleeful imp! This is so worth seeing - one's heart glows for him.
In "So Long, Marianne" - words were added after "so, long, Marianne" - like "longing was meant/?made? for you". It sounded so wistful.
Leonard did thank the Divine Webb Sisters for their "acrobatics" - which were beautifully synchronised.
The Partisan was wonderfully terse.

And, if you read this, Leonard, a huge thank you for singing a very beautiful "Famous Blue Raincoat"...
"You let me sing, you lifted me up, you gave my soul a beam to travel on. ... You gave the injury a tongue to heal itself."
Leonard Cohen in Book of Mercy (1984) Ch. 19.
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