Leonard Cohen I’m Your Man: not a perfect offering

Leonard Cohen I’m Your Man: not a perfect offering

The other day I went along to our local Picturehouse, drawn by what I anticipated would be a new film portrait of the late and incomparable Leonard Cohen. What I got was a lesson on the increasing unreliability of my memory: as soon as the opening credits began rolling I realised that I had seen Leonard Cohen: I’m Your Man not just once, but probably twice before, perhaps on TV.

No worries, though: the film, which combines segments of an extended interview with Cohen and performances from a tribute concert at the Sydney Opera House in January 2005, is one I was happy to sit through again. It’s always a pleasure to listen to Leonard’s wry assessments of his life and worth (one of his best is here: ‘My reputation as a ladies’ man was a joke. It caused me to laugh bitterly the 10,000 nights I spent alone’), while the cover versions are generally (though not always) interesting, even revelatory. Above all, there is the best cover of ‘Anthem’ (which gives this blog its title) by Cohen’s regular backing vocalists, Perla Batalla and Julie Christensen. Continue reading “Leonard Cohen I’m Your Man: not a perfect offering”

In the dark times will there also be singing?

In the dark times will there also be singing?

In the dark times
Will there also be singing?
Yes, there will also be singing
About the dark times.
– Bertolt Brecht, motto to Svendborg Poems, 1939

In an essay called ‘Undefeated Despair’, John Berger wrote of ‘Despair without fear, without resignation, without a sense of defeat.’ ‘However you look at it’, the Guardian editorialised a few days ago, ‘2017 offers a fearful prospect for America and the world.’ In the words of Paul Simon’s ‘American Tune’, I don’t have a friend who feels at ease when weighing the prospects for the year ahead. In the spirit that some solace may be found in poetry in these dark times, I offer a selection of poems or brief extracts – some have which have appeared in posts here before – which seem to offer meaning and hope; they may reflect Berger’s stance of undefeated despair, offering not ‘a promise, or a consolation, or an oath of vengeance (forms of rhetoric he states are are for ‘the small or large leaders who make History’), but rather insists that ‘One was born into this life to share the time that repeatedly exists between moments, the time of Becoming.’ . Continue reading “In the dark times will there also be singing?”

You Say You Want a Revolution? A brilliant V&A exhibition brings the Sixties to life, and questions the decade’s legacy

You Say You Want a Revolution? A brilliant V&A exhibition brings the Sixties to life, and questions the decade’s legacy

While I was in London, I went to the V&A to see the exhibition, You Say You Want a Revolution? Records and Rebels 1966 – 1970. I had expected to be confronted with a mass of memorabilia, images and text. What I discovered was one of best executed and clearly articulated exhibitions that I’ve ever seen. In large part this was due to someone’s brilliant idea of utilising the magic of (I presume) Bluetooth headphones which offered a contextual soundtrack that changed as you drew near to a particular display or video. Continue reading “You Say You Want a Revolution? A brilliant V&A exhibition brings the Sixties to life, and questions the decade’s legacy”

Goodbye Leonard: You let in the light for us all

Goodbye Leonard: You let in the light for us all

Not for the first time this year, a musician has departed this life, but not before leaving us with a final album whose words have a decidedly premonitory aura – as if, first David Bowie and now Leonard Cohen, sensed that they were, in Cohen’s words ‘out of the game’.

For the 50 years of my adult life the songs of Leonard Cohen, who has died at the age of 82, have been a source of insight, inspiration and healing. He has been, in the words of Rolling Stone today, ‘the dark eminence among a small pantheon of extremely influential singer-songwriters to emerge in the Sixties and early Seventies. Only Bob Dylan exerted a more profound influence upon his generation, and perhaps only Paul Simon and fellow Canadian Joni Mitchell equalled him as a song poet.’  Continue reading “Goodbye Leonard: You let in the light for us all”

The music in my head (part 1): recycled and new this year

The music in my head (part 1): recycled and new this year

There’s a programme on Radio 4 that I hear sometimes when I’m driving in the car. Called Recycled Radio, it chops up old BBC programmes and recycles the snippets into something new. That made me think of all the recycled music I listen to, with album tracks often reassembled into new playlists. As I get older, I listen to a lot of recycled music – but not all the time. Every year brings exciting new sounds. In this post (the first of three) I want to round up some of the music – recycled and new – that I’ve enjoyed in 2015 but never got round to writing about. Continue reading “The music in my head (part 1): recycled and new this year”

Election day: Everybody knows

Election day: Everybody knows

Election day. Some words from Leonard, who always lets in the light: Continue reading “Election day: Everybody knows”

Scientist reveals how the light gets in

Guadagnini violin
A Guadagnini violin

I couldn’t let this pass unremarked.  The title of this blog was inspired, of course, by Leonard Cohen’s ‘Anthem’ with its chorus:

Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.

An editorial in today’s Guardian notes that scientists in Trieste have discovered that the reason why Guadagnini violins produce such exceptional sound is because:

the tiny irregularities introduced in its construction that give it an edge over symmetrical instruments. In other words, its perfection comes from its imperfection.

The explanation comes in a report in the Telegraph two days ago in which Dr Franco Zanini, a physicist and amateur violinist who examined the violin at a laboratory in Trieste, explained:

We noticed there were a lot of asymmetries in the instruments. In principle they have no reason to be there, but it is possible these imperfections were made to remove the unpleasant harmonics that you get in symmetrical instruments.

The Telegraph account continued:

In the Guadagnini violin [Zanini] studied, he found two patches on the top plate of the violin while part of the bass bar had been removed and glued onto another patch. Two small insect holes was also seen on the top plate while a crack was visible on the underside.  He believes that produces imbalances in the construction and thickness of the wood helped to produce an effect known as harmonic rejection – where harsh unwanted harmonics that can make note sound unpleasant are removed by the resonance of the wood.

So now the truth revealed in Leonard Cohen’s lyric of hope is scientifically proven: things may be crap, systems and structures broken, but the crack is how the light gets in. We may be battered, ripped off and exploited; war and corruption may turn beliefs to dust, but each new day the birds will sing and love will come, if as a refugee. In the teeth of adversity and ugliness, there is still beauty.

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.

Ah the wars they will

be fought again
The holy dove
She will be caught again
bought and sold
and bought again
the dove is never free.

We asked for signs
the signs were sent:
the birth betrayed
the marriage spent
The widowhood
of every government –
signs for all to see.

I can’t run no more
with that lawless crowd
while the killers in high places
say their prayers out loud.
But they’ve summoned up
a thundercloud
and they’re going to hear from me.

You can add up the parts
but you won’t have the sum
You can strike up the march,
there is no drum
Every heart
to love will come
but like a refugee.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.

Here’s a version by Julie Christensen and Perla Batalla:

Leonard Cohen: Bird on a Wire

In 1972 Tony Palmer made a film about Leonard Cohen’s European tour that year, not only filming concert footage, but also intimate sequences of Cohen and his band off stage, on the tour bus, and just relaxing. The film was entitled Bird on a Wire and an eviscerated version was screened once at the Rainbow in 1974, before disappearing from view.  It was thought lost until more than 290 rolls of film in rusted cans were discovered in late 2009. The cans contained much of the original ‘rushes’ of the film, and most of the original soundtrack.

Now, with Leonard Cohen experiencing a renaissance in popular and critical esteem with his world tours of the last two years,  Tony Palmer has lovingly restored the film and, as well as being released on DVD, it was screened last night on BBC4.  Although frustrating in parts, due to the editing which left you wondering what was going on – particularly in the opening sequence where Cohen tries to calm over-zealous, orange-jacketed security guards at the Jerusalem concert – this was a magical film that seemed to be beamed from somewhere long ago and far away.

Was there really a time when a major singer-songwriter could mix casually with his fans in a concert hall foyer, even handing cash refunds out after an unsatisfactory performance? When the star, apologising for the poor sound quality, would invite those who could not hear properly to join him on stage? Was there really a time when a director could gain such close access with his camera to a public figure?  Well, there was once, and the tenor of those times – revolution in the air and the questioning of authority – is the beat that pulses through this film.

Palmer described the film as an ‘impression’ of Cohen’s 20-city tour of Europe in the spring of 1972, when Cohen was just 37 and a successful poet and singer.  The strongest impression was of the frustrations and tensions of the touring experience.  Cohen and the band were plagued by malfunctioning monitors and a screeching sound system. One extended sequence shows Cohen in the foyer of an Oslo theatre facing up to two aggrieved fans, furious about the poor sound, being given their money back from out of his own pocket.

Cohen at one point on stage describes himself as a ‘broken-down nightingale – sometimes you are living in a song, and sometimes it’s inhospitable and won’t admit you, and you’re left banging at the door and everybody knows it’. Yet his voice sounds great, whether singing or reciting poetry. And there was a fair amount of poetry here, including this arresting verse:

Any system you contrive without us
will be brought down
We warned you before
and nothing that you built has stood
Hear it as you lean over you blueprint
Hear it as you roll up your sleeve
Hear it once again
Any system you contrive without us
will be brought down

You have your drugs
You have your guns
You have your Pyramids your Pentagons
With all your grass and bullets
you cannot hunt us any more
All that we disclose of ourselves forever
is this warning
Nothing that you built has stood
Any system you contrive without us
will be brought down.

There is more politics: in one sequence, Palmer mixes into the original cut footage of Cohen singing ‘Story of Isaac’ (‘You who build these altars now/to sacrifice these children’) with shocking images of  war and political violence. And later, Cohen asked about the politics in his lyrics, argues that, in the society we have now,  ‘loneliness is a political act’.

On stage in Manchester Cohen imagined young people 40 years in the future, equipped with some unimagined technology, viewing  the film, by which time the town would be a ruin: ‘It’s well on its way,” he observed laconically. ‘And I hope the banks follow…’

The opening scenes of Bird on a Wire were shot, I’ve learned subsequently,  in Tel Aviv.  They show hired security men in orange overalls beating up fans who wanted to move to the front of the hall. The film also ends in Israel, in Jerusalem, where a scrappy, apologetic performance is abruptly terminated during a performance of ‘So Long Marianne’.  He walks off stage,  but is eventually compelled by the devotion of the crowd, to come back out.  We see him backstage, worn out and sobbing, along with Jennifer Warnes and other members of the band.

Simon Wollaston in The Guardian commented:

It looks like it would have been fun to have been on the road with Cohen and his band in the early 70s. It’s not the usual kind of band-on-tour high jinks and bad behaviour. There’s a lot of sitting around, naked swimming, smoking, introspective thought, writing poetry in the bath, picnicking by the side of the road, throwing pebbles into the sea – that kind of thing. While terrible things were going on in the world. But there was wine and there were women, too. Lots of women for Leonard – beautiful, big-eyed 1970s women, leaning in their darkened doors.

And jokes. Some of this film is very funny. Like the ridiculous journalists asking their ridiculous questions (though I did feel for the poor guy whose tape recorder didn’t work – I’ve been there). And arguments with promoters over speakers that keep blowing up. And one of the band admitting that he nodded off on stage during Suzanne. And Cohen’s repartee with his audiences. “Sometimes you can live in the song, but sometimes it is inhospitable and won’t admit you, and you’re left banging on the door and everyone knows it,” he tells them. This would be baffling from most people, but because it’s coming from Cohen, it makes perfect sense.

Most of all, though, it’s about the music, of Cohen at the peak of his power, mesmerising audiences with beautiful, sad songs. And then, on the final night of the tour in Jerusalem, it all gets too much. Cohen breaks down on stage; he’s crying, the band’s crying, the audience is crying…

Director Tony Palmer has said of his film:

Maybe what is valuable about the film today is not only that it contains 17 of Cohen’s greatest songs performed by him in his prime, it has a real feel for the rough and tumble and difficulties of life on the road. I know of few other films where the backstage confusion comes so vividly to life, with Cohen apparently taking no notice whatsoever of the camera. I doubt if today we would be allowed such access. The songs are haunting, unforgettably so. The poetry is extraordinary. But so is the man. Looking back after 38 years, my admiration for Cohen remains undiminished. The original film was made with love – I hope that quality once again shines through the restored film.

The band

Ron Cornelius – electric and acoustic guitar
Bob Johnston – piano and organ
Peter Marshal – electric and acoustic bass
David O’Connor – acoustic guitar
Jennifer Warnes – vocals
Donna Washburn – vocals

Songs featured

If you wanted just one reason for watching this film, it would be that it contains possibly the only recorded performance of Chelsea Hotel #1 –  a significantly different precursor to the album version, known as Chelsea Hotel #2. This YouTube clip has the audio from the 1972 concert in Tel Aviv, though not the video:

  • Avalanche
  • Suzanne
  • Tonight Will Be Fine
  • Passing Through
  • Sisters of Mercy
  • Who By Fire?
  • Story of Isaac
  • One Of Us Can’t Be Wrong
  • The Partisan
  • Sisters of Mercy
  • Chelsea Hotel #1
  • Nancy
  • One Of Us Can’t Be Wrong
  • Famous Blue Raincoat
  • Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye
  • So Long, Marianne
  • Bird On A Wire

Leonard Cohen at Liverpool Arena

If it be your will
That a voice be true
From this broken hill
I will sing to you
From this broken hill…

And draw us near
And bind us tight
All your children here
In their rags of light
In our rags of light
All dressed to kill
And end this night
If it be your will…

I walked into this empty church I had no place else to go…
There ain’t no cure, there ain’t no cure, there ain’t no cure for love

Eighteen months on the road, performing to adoring thousands in halls in every land, at the top of his form and with musicians of the highest calibre: Leonard Cohen has more than earned back his stolen pension.

Last night, for the second time in six months, we saw Leonard Cohen give another magnificent show at the Liverpool Echo Arena. ‘Transcendent’ is how my friend Joe put it – and he was spot on.

This was basically the same well-rehearsed show as the one I saw in Manchester last November, though Leonard spoke much less, particularly during the first set, in which he motored through a succession of spine-tingling versions of more recent songs. But the warmth of his singing and the excellence of the musicianship – especially of Javier Mas, whose introduction to Who By Fire on the laud – was sublime.

Cohen skipped onto the Echo Arena stage and hit the ground running with an emotional  Dance Me to the End of Love:

Dance me to the children who are asking to be born
Dance me through the curtains that our kisses have outworn
Raise a tent of shelter now, though every thread is torn
Dance me to the end of love

Wearing his signature dark suit and fedora, Cohen several times  dropped to his knees, singing with eyes closed, seeming to be overcome by the intensity of his lyrics. He demonstrated his usual warmth and humility towards his musicians and backing singers, introducing his band twice in his inimitable style: ‘prince of precision’ for drummer Rafael Gayol and the ‘maestro of breath’  for saxophonist player Dino Soldo. His collaborator Sharon Robinson took centre stage for Boogie Street and the Webb Sisters gave a haunting rendition of If It Be Your Will, which, as usual, Cohen began by reciting before handing over to the Webbs to ‘unfold the song’ .

Song after song flowed until  Closing Time seemed to have brought the night to an end, only for him to jokingly follow it up with I Tried to Leave You:  ‘And here’s a man still working for your smile’.

I tried to leave you, I don’t deny
I closed the book on us, at least a hundred times.
I’d wake up every morning by your side.
The years go by, you lose your pride.
The baby’s crying, so you do not go outside,
and all your work it’s right before your eyes.
Goodnight, my darling, I hope you’re satisfied,
the bed is kind of narrow, but my arms are open wide.
And here’s a man still working for your smile.

I did my best, it wasn’t much
I couldn’t feel, so I tried to touch
I’ve told the truth, I didn’t come to fool you
And even though it all went wrong
I’ll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah

Set list

First set

  • Dance Me to the End of Love
  • The Future
  • Ain’t No Cure for Love
  • Bird on a Wire
  • Everybody Knows
  • In My Secret Life
  • Who By Fire?
  • Waiting for the Miracle
  • Anthem

Second set

  • Tower of Song
  • Suzanne
  • Sisters of Mercy
  • The Partisan
  • Boogie Street
  • Hallelujah
  • I’m Your Man
  • Take This Waltz

First encore

  • So Long, Marianne
  • First We Take Manhattan

Second encore

  • Famous Blue Raincoat
  • If It Be Your Will
  • Closing Time

Third encore

  • I Tried To Leave You

Performers:

  • Roscoe Beck: Musical Director, Bass, background Vocals
  • Bob Metzger: Guitar, steel guitar & vocal
  • Javier Mas: Bandurria, laud, archilaud and 12 string guitar
  • Rafael Gayol: Drums & percussion
  • Dino Soldo: Keyboard, saxophone, wind instruments & vocal
  • Sharon Robinson: Vocals
  • The Webb Sisters: Vocals

Dance Me to the End of Love: Liverpool July 2009

Advice about Life: Liverpool July 14th, 2009

Tower of Song: Liverpool July 2009

Standing ovation for Leonard Cohen: Liverpool, July 14th 2009

Hallelujah

Leonard Cohen again! Well – this year’s outstanding experience for me was seeing him live in Manchester. Two articles in today’s Guardian are provoked by the tussle for the No. 1 spot between two versions of Hallelujah:

  • As usual, an excellent discussion by Laura Barton – of both Hallelujah and Anthem (see yesterday).
  • Mark Lawson is good on the ‘double life’ of the song.

Comparing different versions on YouTube:

  • kd lang
  • Leonard himself on the 2008 tour in Copenhagen, July

And the lyric:

Well I heard there was a secret chord
That David played, and it pleased the Lord
But you don’t really care for music, do you?
Well it goes like this
The fourth, the fifth
The minor fall and the major lift
The baffled king composing Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah

Well Your faith was strong but you needed proof
You saw her bathing on the roof
Her beauty and the moonlight overthrew you
she tied you to her kitchen chair
And she broke your throne and she cut your hair
And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah

Well baby I’ve been here before
I’ve seen this room and I’ve walked this floor
I used to live alone before I knew you
I’ve seen your flag on the marble arch
Love is not a victory march
It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah

Well there was a time when you let me know
What’s really going on below
But now you never show that to me do you?
And remember when I moved in you?
And the holy dove was moving too
And every breath we drew was Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah

Well maybe there’s a God above
But all I’ve ever learned from love
Was how to shoot somebody who outdrew you
And it’s not a cry that you hear at night
It’s not somebody who’s seen the light
It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah

Leonard Cohen’s ‘Anthem’: That’s how the light gets in

To kick off its relaunch on WordPress, I thought an entry on this blog’s signature song would be appropriate.

Leonard Cohen once explained the meaning of the song as follows:

That is the background of the whole record, I mean if you have to come up with a philosophical ground, that is “Ring the bells that still can ring.” It’s no excuse… the dismal situation.. and the future is no excuse for an abdication of your own personal responsibilities towards yourself and your job and your love. “Ring the bells that still can ring”: they’re few and far between but you can find them. “Forget your perfect offering”, that is the hang-up, that you’re gonna work this thing out. Because we confuse this idea and we’ve forgotten the central myth of our culture which is the expulsion from the garden of Eden. This situation does not admit of solution or perfection. This is not the place where you make things perfect, neither in your marriage, nor in your work, nor anything, nor your love of God, nor your love of family or country. The thing is imperfect. And worse, there is a crack in everything that you can put together, physical objects, mental objects, constructions of any kind. But that’s where the light gets in, and that’s where the resurrection is and that’s where the return, that’s where the repentance is. It is with the confrontation, with the brokenness of things.
–  from Diamonds in the Line 

Howard Jacobson discussed this lyric recently in the Independent:

Those great lines from the song “Anthem”. Ring the bells etc. Forget your perfect offering. There’s a crack – a crack in everything.

It’s like a reprimand to people of my temperament – life’s complainants, eroticists of disappointment, lovers only of what’s flawless and overwrought. Could he be singing this to me? You expect too much, mister. You are too unforgiving. Not everything works out, not everything is great, and not everyone must like what you like. I’ve been taught this lesson before. I remember reading an essay by the novelist Mario Vargas Llosa in which he argues for the necessity of vulgarity in serious literature. Thomas Hardy said a writer needed to be imperfectly grammatical some of the time. Mailer told an audience that not everybody wanted to ride in a Lamborghini. And now here’s Leonard Cohen saying the same thing. Forget your perfect offering. There’s a crack…

And then comes another, still more wonderful, clinching line – “That’s how the light gets in.” Savour that! At a stroke, weakness becomes strength and fault becomes virtue. I feel as though original sin has just been re-explained to me. There was no fall. We were born flawed. Flawed is how we were designed to be. Which means we don’t need redeeming after all. Light? Why go searching for light? The light already shines from us. It got in through our failings.

Leonard Cohen

The lyrics:

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.

Ah the wars they will be fought again
The holy dove she will be caught again
bought and sold  and bought again
the dove is never free.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.

We asked for signs the signs were sent:
the birth betrayed the marriage spent
Yeah the widowhood of every government –
signs for all to see.

I can’t run no more with that lawless crowd
while the killers in high places say their prayers out loud.
But they’ve summoned, they’ve summoned up a thundercloud
and they’re going to hear from me.

Ring the bells that still can ring …

You can add up the parts but you won’t have the sum
You can strike up the march, there is no drum
Every heart, every heart to love will come
but like a refugee.

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.

There’s a superb version on YouTube, sung by Perla Batalla & Julie Christensen in 2004:

Links

Leonard Cohen at Manchester M.E.N.

I think last night I may have witnessed the best concert of my life.  Not only was Leonard himself superb – but so were his band, the sound and the big screen video. I was really surprised at the immaculate, velvety quality of the sound in the enormous MEN Arena. The impact of the performance was also enhanced by the excellent video on the giant screens. Leonard reminded us that it was 15 years since he’d last played Manchester: “I was 60 then – just a crazy kid with a dream.”

At the end of Tower of Song it really seemed as if he, Sharon Robinson and the Webb sisters were the only people in the room as he urged them to ignore our applause and sing for him.

The final ensemble Whither Thou Goest with all the crew on stage was moving, as was Leonards heartfelt thanks to them for their work on the tour.  He bid us farewell by saying he didn’t know when we would meet again before dancing off stage.

Here’s the Manchester Evening News review:

If this year has found many of the elderly stateside stalwarts of classic songwriting hitting the road again for the first time in a long time, with relative recluses Tom Waits and Neil Young possibly scared into action by the credit crunch klaxon, Leonard Cohen’s return has certainly courted the most headlines.

Some 15 years since he last had to size up tour buses, Cohen’s early summer four-night sold out stand at the Opera House drew plaudits and frothing enthusiasm from all those lucky enough to get hold of tickets, and some six months on having travelled full circle around the globe he’s still able to astound.

While few artists beyond normal retirement age would hardly even consider such a lengthy schedule the sight of Cohen – who recently celebrated his 74th birthday – almost skipping to centre stage for opener ‘Dance Me To The End Of Love’ is a strange sight that defies his undeserved sullen reputation.

Still as dapperly dressed and prominent now as on previous album sleeves, the only thing that seems to have changed beyond those dusty vinyl covers is his once unremarkable voice dropping to a gentle calming low baritone adding further gravitas to even Cohen’s more emotionally charged expert word play.

Dipping into hits and fan favourites from his impressive back catalogue the force of early set songs such as ‘Bird On A Wire’, ‘Who By Fire’, ‘Anthem’ – each delivered with a surgeon’s precision by his expert nine-piece backing band – has the devoted M.E.N audience transfixed.

Whether through the angelic vocal harmonies of regular collaborator Sharon Robinson and the “sublime” Webb sisters, “shepherd of strings” Javier Mas’ virtuoso Laud/ nylon string runs or “master of breath” Dino Saldo’s woodwind expertise the musicianship on display is near perfect.

Soon hitting his stride following the short interval with knockout numbers ‘Suzanne’ and ‘I’m Your Man’, ‘Tower Of Song’, ‘Chelsea Hotel No.2’, a staggering reading of ‘A Thousand Kisses Deep’ and not to mention his hijacked masterpiece ‘Hallelujah’- soon to be given the X Factor treatment (i.e. ruined).

Remaining genial, enthused and humble throughout, even moved to removing his trademark hat in gentlemanly fashion as the vocal harmonies take centre stage, Cohen soaks up the thunderous applause that follows each song.

Whilst it may have taken some persuasion for the Canadian poet to once again take to the stages following such a long lay off the three encores this evening – each met with a standing ovation – suggests he has taken to performing again with gusto, lets hope it lasts.

Set list

First set

  • Dance Me To The End Of Love
  • The Future (with cartwheels!)
  • Ain’t No Cure For Love
  • Bird On The Wire
  • Everybody Knows
  • In My Secret Life
  • Who By Fire
  • Chelsea Hotel #2
  • Anthem

Second set

  • Tower Of Song
  • Suzanne
  • Gypsy Wife
  • The Partisan
  • Boogie Street
  • Hallelujah
  • I’m Your Man
  • A Thousand Kisses Deep (recital)
  • Take This Waltz

First encore

  • So Long, Marianne
  • First We Take Manhattan

Second encore

  • Famous Blue Raincoat
  • If It Be Your Will
  • Democracy

Third encore

  • I Tried To Leave You
  • Whither Thou Goest?

Here are some clips from You Tube while we wait for next spring’s CD and DVD:

The opener: Dance Me To The End of Love

Tower of Song

Hallelujah

If It Be Your Will

Closing words

Links