Leonard Cohen live 2010

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.

Learning from Leonard Cohen

I grew up without religion, so I have to take my moral lessons where I can find them. Sesame St set me right through childhood. When I was a teenager I discovered Leonard Cohen and started buying his albums on vinyl for some reason. I would listen to them over and over again and then I forced my friends to listen to them when we went on holiday together at the beach. Then Zephfi would play her Paul Simon albums. Then we’d listen to Triple J.

Anyway, as you know I saw Leonard Cohen live this year and for me, it was the closest thing I have personally experienced to religious enlightenment. I was seeing someone who I admired perform his songs with passion, humility and sincerity.

One of the reasons Leonard is so great is that his songs are poetry and the poetry is based on experience, philosophy and religious teachings. This is a man that feels deeply and is unafraid to put his emotions into his songs. And I think there are things that we can learn from him, if we take a select sample of his lyrics and apply them to our own lives.

Lesson the first, that Leonard sings about over and over again is that Love Conquers All.
Even when it doesn’t work. Even when it hurts. Even when you know you have to part, love is the most important thing.

I saw you this morning.
You were moving so fast.
Can’t seem to loosen my grip
On the past.
And I miss you so much.
There’s no one in sight.
And we’re still making love
In My Secret Life.

All the rocket ships are climbing through sky
Holy books are open wide
The doctors working day and night but they’ll never ever find that cure for love
there ain’t no cure for love

The next lesson is that although you can try, you shouldn’t ever expect to achieve perfection. You do the best you can and that is all that is needed. if you can accept that everything has a flaw in it somewhere, then you will be a happier person than the person.

The birds they sang
at the break of day
Start again
I heard them say
Don’t dwell on what
has passed away
or what is yet to be….
Ring the bells that still can ring/ forget your perfect offering
there is a crack, a crack in everything
that’s how the light gets in.

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Friday is right to party

Mr Vintage are narrowing their collection down to kiwiana tshirts only so they have a pretty wicked sale on right now, if you’re into tshirts with 80s icons on them, go check it.

Bemeaningful on twitter linked me today to this lovely website One million acts of kindness.

I am seriously tickled that someone found my blog by googling “marrying into the irish mob”. Aah LARP reports, how you ruin people’s innocent google research!

I have a big weekend of laziness planned, then a two day work week next week and then a blissful blessed holiday at the beach. Ah, I am looking forward to it so much!

Finally, a poem spoken to you by one of my personal heroes, Leonard Cohen. It’s a love song kind of.

Leonard Cohen Live – United Hearts tour

The crowd to get into the arena was huge and old and well behaved. Frank, my Mum and my Dad were quietly excited going in. The people at the door were taking water bottles off people, but my mum smuggled hers in. Our seats were in the back row of the upstairs seating on the right hand side of the building. We were about half way along, so we had a great view of the stage, completely unimpeded and not too far away.

Sam Hunt opened with some poetry recitations, his own and some famous Yeats and Baxter ones as well. He was unexpectedly funny and moving. He swore a lot too, I liked him.

There was a 15 or so minute break in which I purchased a programme and a United Hearts tshirt for an extortionate amount of money (well, not really, I was happy to pay for them after all) and some water. They took my water bottle cap away. The arena has a policy apparently that you can’t have bottle caps at concerts. If anyone can explain the reason for this please let me know. shirt

Leonard Cohen’s band took their places, the instruments assembled on different levels on a huge red Persian rug. There was a red velvet chair in front for the Spanish banjo player. When Leonard took the stage it was at a run, in his signature suit and fedora. The audience gave him a standing ovation before he’d done anything. He waited for it to die down, thanked us politely and then launched into ‘Dance me to the end of love’.

From then on I ascended into a kind of religious ecstasy. His songs are so important to me, so familiar and his voice was much better live than in the old recordings I have, and to see him start a song on his knees, bent forward over the microphone and then straighten up as the song went on. To close my eyes and imagine that it was me that he sang for…it was all quite overwhelming. Frank thought I was overheating, mostly I was overcome with emotion. He played every single song that I had hoped he would. He danced a funny little shuffle, his banter was humble and warm and funny. He mentioned a newspaper article that had mentioned his short stature. “I cannot always be seen by the naked eye. I’ve been offered a job, I’ll be the colossal shrimp and lie down next to the colossal squid.”
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