When I saw Leonard Cohen perform last year I didn’t really think he’d every come back to our little island. But he did, because he is awesome, and I went to the first of two sold out shows he put on.
I was very tired. Very very tired going in but Bic Runga was an excellent warm up act, starting and finishing with her first hits (Drive and Sway) and testing out new material on us. I loved her new song Darkness all Around Us which resonated very well with Leonard Cohen’s new song The Darkness. She had some technical trouble, but handled it with grace and charm. Loved her to bits, actually. I must remember to buy tickets next time she tours.
I ran to the merch stand in this break and bought a grey low necked T shirt with a variation on the heart knot symbol on it, and two pins (one for Mum and one for Frank.) Finally the man himself took the stage and the crowd went first wild, and then very very quiet. Everyone was there to really *listen* and appreciate Leonard. Which, to me, is pretty important. I go to concerts to hear the artist perform their songs live, sometimes in new ways. I don’t go to concerts to hear the crowd sing the songs.
Our seats were excellent, we paid a bit more and were rewarded with elevated seats facing the stage and pretty darn near the middle. It made a big difference, we could see everything that was going on and enjoy the movement.
It was different to the last concert, there were some new songs, and some songs he didn’t play that he played last time. There wasn’t a song for Sharon Robinson to sing on her own, and I missed the Webb Sisters’ rendition of If It Be Your Will but none of that really mattered. The power of the singers, the band, the lyrics and Leonard Cohen himself all made for a fantastic experience.
He played The Sisters of Mercy, which I’m not sure if he did last time. Some lovely person put up his set list here. It looks right to me. It doesn’t look like a whole lot of songs, but when played live the songs stretch out. Leonard takes his time with each song and they last probably 5-7 minutes each. Longer when he lets them all have solos. Speaking of solos, the Webb sisters did something amazing in their solo during I Tried to Leave you, singing over each other and creating something haunting and lovely. All the recordings I’ve found on line they’re doing something else, so it must have been new. It was beautiful and weird. My jaw dropped and I sat there wishing for more…
I especially loved Hallelujah (of course), The Partisan, Recitation (<3), Tower of Song, I'm Your Man (he added some new lyrics in the repeat of the first verse "If you want a curious kind of love I'll wear an old man's mask for you") and also his new song The Darkness, which is very vampiric and made me think of a certain stalky vampire.
I may have cried during Hallelujah and Anthem.
I came out of this one less overwhelmed than last time, but no less moved. I felt an utter contentment, a bliss, an understanding of the universe even. I know this sounds like an awful lot to get out of a concert but there's just something about seeing a whole band, four back up singers and a living legend perform as if they are really enjoying themselves. Really witnessing people doing something that they love and are talented at is humbling and wonder inspiring.
A review of the Auckland concert that takes a kind of odd stance…especially since he did do some new material.