Here's another review:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/margie-go ... 32079.html
Leonard Cohen Rocks Madison Square Garden
By Margie Goldsmith
Posted: 12/19/2012 4:03 pm
Last night, 20,000 of us in the audience sat mesmerized, collectively holding our breath as Leonard Cohen, performing his Old Ideas World Tour 2012, sang "Bird on the Wire" at Madison Square Garden. Except for Cohen's low gravely voice, the Garden was so silent you could have heard a finger slide across an iPhone. He was the preacher, the stage was his altar and the venue was his cathedral. The backdrop was a wall of silk curtains which rose from the floor to the rafters and changed colors with each song. The sound system was so perfect you could hear each syllable and chord from everywhere in the Garden.
Like a bird on the wire
Like a drunk in a midnight choir
I have tried in my way to be free
Cohen, 78 years old, has always seduced with his raspy voice but now his tone is even richer, a fine, full-bodied wine. Cohen didn't just sing words, he sang prayers. Dance me till the end of love and Love is the only engine of survival and I loved you when you opened like a lily in the heat. It's easy to see that he started as a poet long before he became a singer/ songwriter. After his first poetry book, The Spice-Box of Earth, they called Leonard Cohen the best young poet in English Canada. All his songs are poems, about love and sex, religion and faith, depression and desire, and betrayal and redemption. In every verse he leaves his listeners to ponder their own lives:
I saw a beggar leaning on his wooden crutch
He said to me, "You must not ask for so much"
And a pretty woman leaning in her darkened door
She cried to me, "Hey, why not ask for more?"
Cohen, a Canadian, moved to America in 1967, hoping to become a folk music singer-songwriter and hung around Andy Warhol's Factory. Cohen's song "Suzanne" became a hit for Judy Collins. When he put out his first album, Songs of Leonard Cohen, it was a cult favorite in both Great Britain and the U.S. and stayed on the charts for a year. Two years later, Cohen released his second album, Songs from a Room, including "Bird on a Wire," produced by Bob Johnston.
After the 1990's, Cohen's track "Everybody Knows," co-written by Sharon Robinson (who also sang back-up and a solo last night) was featured in the film Pump Up the Volume, and suddenly he had an entire young audience as fans. His popularity continued among the young after Natural Born Killers featured three of his songs: "Waiting for the Miracle," "The Future" and "Anthem."
In 1994, Cohen went into retreat at the Mt. Baldy Zen Center in California where he stayed five years and was ordained a Buddhist monk. I figured that was the end of his musical career, but was thrilled that in 2001 he released Ten New Songs, co-composed with Sharon Robinson. The album was a hit, especially the single "In My Secret Life."
Sadly, in 2004, Cohen discovered that his longtime close friend and business manager, Kelley Lynch, was stealing money from him (and had been since 1996). Cohen sued and a Los Angeles County superior court awarded him $9 million. Lynch ignored the suit and didn't respond to a subpoena. Last March, Kelley Lynch was arrested in Los Angeles for violating a permanent protective order that forbade her from contacting Leonard Cohen. She was found guilty and sentenced to eighteen months in prison and five years probation. Cohen told the court, "It gives me no pleasure to see my one-time friend shackled to a chair in a court of law, her considerable gifts bent to the services of darkness and deceit. It is my prayer that Ms. Lynch will take refuge in the wisdom of her religion, that a spirit of understanding will convert her heart from hatred to remorse."
Leonard Cohen's compassion could be felt in every song last night -- from "Everybody Knows, Darkness" and "Anthem" to "I'm Your Man, Democracy," and "Suzanne." He also had the generosity to introduce every band member -- each a virtuoso, including Sharon Robinson and The Webb Sisters on background vocals, Neil Larsen on keyboards & Hammond B3 accordion, Mitch Watkins on guitar, Javier Mas on bandurria, laud, archilaud, and12-string acoustic guitar, Rafael Gayol on drums and percussion, and Alexandru Bublitchi (violin).
Early in the evening, Leonard Cohen adjusted the angle on his fedora, looked out at the audience and said, "I don't know when we'll meet again, but tonight I promise I'll give you everything I've got." And he did, including an encore of six more songs.
And here are the comments on the review, as of mid-morning, December 20:
Michael A. Koplen
I was there. One of the finest concerts I have ever seen. Truly unforgettable. Maybe even sublime. The musicians were great...a deeply moving experience.
9 hours ago (10:59 PM)
what a man
what a treasure
I pray I get to see you live before either of us passes on
9 hours ago (10:43 PM)
Thanks for the great review. I was at this show and there were too many highlights to mention but a few that come to mind - Everybody Knows, Democracy and a surprisingly moving Darkness from his latest album. When he turned A Thousand Kisses Deep into a spoken word performance it was cool to realize that a guy who started as a poet was basically reciting poetry to 20,000 people at Madison Square Garden - and it worked. That alone is quite an accomplishment. Leonard went onstage at either 8:10 or 815. I forgot to look at my watch to get the exact time. But he left the stage at 11:45. He gave us a three and a half hour show and every minute was a highlight.
8 hours ago (11:28 PM)
I saw him in Boston and he was amazing. He did A Thousand Kisses Deep here, too. He's so obviously from that spoken word poetry tradition in the 60s and 70s, he's just the best one, the one that lasted whether it was in fashion or not. The intimate setting at the Wang Theatre was great, but I wish I could have seen him just talk to a packed MSG audience.
11 hours ago ( 9:03 PM)
I've seen Mr. Cohen about a dozen times since the late 70s and been mesmerized by every performance Famous Blue Raincoat,I'm your Man,Everybody Knows,Sisters of Mercy and of course Suzanne are all pure poetry and the list goes on.I'm suprised though even fans of his who are familar with his poetry writings rarely know he published a novel titled Beautiful Losers which the crictic Richard Ellmann called a minor classic.
12 hours ago ( 7:23 PM)
Saw Leonard inTampa a few years back. Flying from Tampa to New York Tomorrow to catch him in Brooklyn. One of the finest shows I've ever seen, for me it's so spiritual:) Can't Wait.
15 hours ago ( 4:51 PM)
Thank you, thank you for your fine review. It is truly a transcendent experiece to receive the gift of a Leonard Cohen concert with such a richly talented cast. He has only grown better with age - up there in the Tower of Song. We are blessed to live in this time with him. All good things.
13 hours ago ( 7:08 PM)
Yes we certainly are. There is no greater poet/singer than Leonard Cohen. And how lucky we are to have seen him!