Sincerely, L. Cohen

Album Cover: Into the Wild

"I knew all the rules, but the rules did not know me...guaranteed."
Eddie Vedder / Guaranteed

Posted on April 24, 2009 12:51 AM in Music
Warning: This blog entry was written two or more years ago. Therefore, it may contain broken links, out-dated or misleading content, or information that is just plain wrong. Please read on with caution.

Leonard Cohen @ The Paramount Theater in Oakland A couple months back when I bought my tickets to see Leonard Cohen, I tweeted quite confidently that the high price would be worth every penny. Boy, was I right.

I took my wife with me tonight to see Leonard Cohen perform at the WaMu Theater (soon to be Chase Theater?). I've been a Leonard Cohen fan since the very first time I heard his distinct voice on the Natural Born Killers soundtrack. Shortly thereafter, I got acquainted with some of his older material, and eventually stumbled upon his poetry. I was profoundly impressed by every single lyric, poem and song I came across. At one point, my friend Brian and I actually sent a manuscript of our own poetry to Leonard Cohen, not really knowing what to expect. Weeks later, we received a typed letter from Leonard himself, which was, to put it bluntly, pretty darn cool. The fact that he was so humble in his response made the experience all the more memorable.

So needless to say, when I learned that Leonard Cohen would be playing a show in my neck of the woods, I jumped at the chance to see him. Whether the return to touring was due to past misfortunes, a simple desire to tour and perform again, or a mixture of both, I didn't question it. It was a chance to see one of the artists (true artists, mind you) I have great respect for perform his art in person.

As advertised, the show started promptly at around eight o'clock. The stage setup was rather simple, with nothing more than a large backdrop against which varying colors of light were aimed throughout the night. The music more than made up for the unsophisticated stage, though. Leonard performed with a band of about nine other musicians, three of which were backup singers (Sharon Robinson and The Webb Sisters were superb). Similarly to some jazz performances, several songs featured prolonged sections in which the various musicians would take turns soloing. It was obvious that all of the musicians were very skilled in their craft, but no one came close to the level of mastery of Leonard Cohen. After all, he was born with the gift of a golden voice.

The first set was chock-full of the "hits" you'd hope to hear at a Leonard Cohen concert. I say "hits" because, despite the length of his career, Leonard Cohen still seems like a well-kept secret in the music world. "The Future," "Waiting for the Miracle," "Everybody Knows" and "Dance Me to the End of Love," if I recall, were all a part of the first set. There was then an intermission, followed by a second set, which featured songs like "Hallelujah," "Suzanne," "Tower of Song" and "I'm Your Man," all of which got resounding reactions from the audience.

After the second set and another of a series of standing ovations that occurred over the course of the concert, the musicians and Leonard returned to the stage to perform songs like "Democracy," "Sisters of Mercy" and "If It Be Your Will," the last of which featured the aforementioned Webb Sisters performing a vocally stunning rendition. After the final set/encore, Leonard addressed the audience and humbly thanked everyone for sharing the evening with him and his fellow musicians.

For some reason, I came to the concert thinking I might only get to see Leonard Cohen going through the motions on songs he had been performing for many, many years. That in itself would have been good enough. However, I was very pleased to find that he added the type of energy to the performance that I wouldn't expect a musician in his or her twenties to bring, and we're talking about a guy who will be turning 75 later this year! To further demonstrate the point, Leonard's very first appearance on stage came as he ran from stage right to his microphone at the center of the stage. Every subsequent exit and entrance from that point forward featured him either running or dancing to his destination.

Another preconception I had when attending tonight's concert was that I might not get a chance to see Leonard Cohen perform again. However, his spryness and quick wit tonight has me thinking otherwise, and I couldn't be happier at the thought. Leonard Cohen is truly a gifted musician with a knack for lyrics that the rest of us could only dream of. I thoroughly enjoyed myself tonight and can't wait 'til the next time Leonard rolls into town and decides to entertain once again those of us who are "in on the secret."

Leonard Cohen @ The Paramount Theater in Oakland courtesy of Flickr user Paige Parsons.

Comments

Ugly Face on April 26, 2009 at 1:47 PM:

Cheers to this entry.... and selling poetry books out of baskets.

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lgxkkpsq on May 15, 2017 at 5:22 AM:

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