CONCERT REPORT: London, O2 Arena, November 13-14

September 21 - November 30, 2008. Concert reports, set lists, photos, media coverage, multimedia links, recollections...
shadowsonthewood
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Re: London O2 Arena, November 13 - 14, 2008

Postby shadowsonthewood » Fri Nov 14, 2008 6:59 pm

Paula wrote: So whilst obviously there will be people who like to participate vocally I would hazard a guess they are in the minority and piss more people off than they realise.
Too right. My first Leonard show last night, and the experience was pretty much ruined by certain members of the audience.

The music was, at times, understated, subtle, nuanced. Sure, some songs allow for participation (Manhattan, Marianne etc). That is absolutely fine with me. A full audience singalong would be a grand thing, for some particular songs, consented to by more than a couple of people. But then some of these people are on a default setting for the whole show - one of concert singalong - when much of the time it's simply inappropriate and hugely frustrating.

I had a vague sense, sometimes stronger, sometimes less so, of watching and hearing something sublime, but most of the time was spent in weird, frustrated detachment.

I don't get what these people take from it. They may as well be singing along to the CD, not listening to the in-the-moment performance of Leonard on stage. I want to hear his voice, his performance. It just seems to me that, for these folk, the concert is about them, not what's really going on onstage.

And I'm a 'bloke (originally) from Essex' :). The offenders were not. Although we're discussing nationalities here, I won't go further on that issue. Tossers are bred all over the world in vast quantities.

Anyway, I was under the impression that Leonard and the band had 'toned down' the performance of Hallelujah since the first leg of the tour, with a less rousing chorus. That's what I'd read round these parts lately. So, surely it's engineered by the stage act rather than the audience to an extent?

I have tickets for Brighton. Having experienced the wonders of 'audience participation', send me a 'subdued' crowd, Lord Jesus.
Wallingtonal
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Re: London O2 Arena, November 13 - 14, 2008

Postby Wallingtonal » Fri Nov 14, 2008 7:37 pm

Our journey to the O2 to see Leonard Cohen went smoothly and we were at North Greenwich station at 7:10. A short walk later and we were inside the "tent" and decided as we had time, we would have a wander as it was our first time there. It's certainly impressive - almost an indoor town - it seems almost bigger on the inside than the outside. Headed for what they call "Entertainment Avenue" (!). There are over 20 restaurants there, all of them very large, packed and with long queues outside - credit crunch; what credit crunch. There's also a multi-plex cinema, exhibitions and other entertainment spaces - it's really, really big!
We made our way into the arena at about 7:40 as I wanted to get a sandwich or a burger. We passed through the ubiquitous security and went up the escalator to the first floor. There are a number of fast food outlets - sandwiches, burgers, Chinese etc but the prices were outrageous - £6/7 for a sandwich, £7 for a burger and chips - you can't go anywhere else - they've got you! Finally I settled for a £3.70 hot dog which was ok and filled a hole.
As it was nearly 8:00, we made our way into the vast auditorium and walked back down to ground floor level as we had seats on the arena floor. We were about 80 metres from the stage which is further than I would have liked but that's all I could get. Looking around I realised these were pretty good seats as people right at the top were closer to the heavens than they were to the stage (even the two giant screens must have looked like 12" TV's from their vertigo inducing seats). At this point, I was worried that one of the most intimate of singers, with a voice little louder than a whisper would be overwhelmed and the concert would be a disappointment - he should be appearing at somewhere like the Palladium - not this cavernous arena.
Then at about 8:15, Lenny and the band swept on to the stage and went into "Dance Me Into The End Of Love" and never looked back. Incredibly cool in his suit and trilby, he was mesmeric, dripping charisma from every pore. The six piece band was one of the best I've ever seen - superb musicians everyone with a lot of style - and three tremendous backing singers who Leonard flirted with throughout. He ran through most of his "hits" (including of course "Suzanne") and his gravelled tones sounded better than ever. He cracked the joke he's been using on this and the last tour - "I was last on stage 15 years ago - 60 years old, a young kid with a dream"!
After a 45 minute set and a 20 minute interval, he returned to do a further hour and 45 minutes - with the band sounding better and better - he even gave the backing singers their own solos. He then did 4 encores and danced on and off the stage between each one - not bad for a man of his advanced years. At this point, I was getting a little worried about getting home as it was now 11:20 but what the hell - he was so good, we'd walk home if we had to!
However being on the ground floor level meant we could get out pretty quickly and beat some of the other 20000 to the tube. As we reached the platform, the train arrived and when we changed at Westminster, the same thing happened on the way to Victoria. As we arrived there, the last train to Wallington was leaving in 2 minutes, so we just made it and were home by 12:30 - having had no waiting at all!
So an amazing night all round. The cavernous O2 arena had been turned into an intimate cabaret hall by this amazing man and his superb band - definitely one of the great concerts and although I had big misgivings about the size of the venue when I took my seat, these were totally unfounded - thanks Lenny, you're a star.
Melvyn
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Re: London O2 Arena, November 13 - 14, 2008

Postby Melvyn » Fri Nov 14, 2008 8:24 pm

There's a good review of the concert here in the Telegraph -

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/arts/main.jh ... hen114.xml

Melvyn.
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A.Sukitu
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Re: London O2 Arena, November 13 - 14, 2008

Postby A.Sukitu » Fri Nov 14, 2008 8:36 pm

... am still smiling and remembering Leonard skipping off and on stage. grinning with joy ...
(I wanted that night to go on and go on...)

thank you for a stunning show - like good wine, it gets better and better.

(Who By Fire amazing; The Partisan wonderfully desperate; Famous Blue Raincoat extremely exquisite).

enjoy tonight!
"You let me sing, you lifted me up, you gave my soul a beam to travel on. ... You gave the injury a tongue to heal itself."
Leonard Cohen in Book of Mercy (1984) Ch. 19.
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howthelightgetsin
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Re: London O2 Arena, November 13 - 14, 2008

Postby howthelightgetsin » Sat Nov 15, 2008 3:07 am

He did Chelsea Hotel tonight! Another great gig,thanks Leonard :)
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stephencharlton
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Re: London O2 Arena, November 13 - 14, 2008

Postby stephencharlton » Sat Nov 15, 2008 3:36 am

howthelightgetsin wrote:He did Chelsea Hotel tonight! Another great gig,thanks Leonard :)
just back from O2, thoroughly enjoyable.
Chelsea Hotel was a highlight.
Because O2 wasnt full we were upgraded to the floor, this was ok apart from the fact that i felt i was in an airport terminal !
Dozens making their way to seats half an hour into the show ?
Despite the irritations, thankyou Leonard for a great tour. :D

Manchester 17th, London O2, Berlin, O2 13th & 14th.
2008 Manchester
London O2 x3
2009 Berlin
2010 Poland
2012 Belgium
2013 London 02
yhtrownu
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Re: London O2 Arena, November 13 - 14, 2008

Postby yhtrownu » Sat Nov 15, 2008 5:42 am

I booked tonight at the O2, way back when, because I wanted to relive the sublime experience I had at the O2 in July. But arrive the day, I'm aware the heat's with the Albert Hall, there's no fun boat trip full of forum members, frenzied at ending a 15 year wait to see the great man, ('cos they all did that in July), and I'm thinking, oh well it's still Leonard.

And I'm slightly down 'cos the place hasn't sold out (like last night), and thousands of upper tier seats are visibly empty at the back, so there isn't the buzz you get when a place is completely full. . . it's like a bulb lit to 90 percent, it's never going to shine at full brightness. And surely, I think, the keen crowd was last night, 'cos they bought tickets first, so I expect a less than enthusiastic crowd. . . And that's sort of how it is, at first.

But who cares about the crowd, it's Leonard. . . and even though his voice is showing more wear in the middle register than in July, the lower register still hits the spot. And all the passion and devotion to entertaining the crowd you could ever expect from anyone, let alone a man with so many dates behind him, is all still there.

And then we're seven songs in, or so, and he sings "Who by fire" and he punches my emotional gut, the way he did in July. His voice has warmed up by now, and he's asking us all how we think we're going to die, and the sheer intensity of it just gets to me ( 'cos we all know people who are close to death, and we all know we're going to die).

And now I'm emotionally wraught, and Leonard unleashes the ghost of Janis Joplin "giving me head on the unmade bed" on the big barn of the O2, as he crooks the forefinger of his left hand and calls back her ghost "You told me again you preferred handsome men but for me you would make an exception." And I'm in tears again, and I'm really glad I came to the concert, because Leonard really knows how to wake you up from the torpor of the everyday, and give you something special to think about and remember. If there was a song to warm the cockles of hearts of concertgoers at London's ugliest Cohen concert (the one in the barn that couldn't sell out), this song was oh-so-perfect: "Well never mind, we are ugly but we have the music!"

The tweaking of the jokes, at the tail end of pleasingly joky Tower of Song, (in which Leonard seemed to call on the Webb sisters to keep on singing to him until death) gave the song a new and more serious resonance, than before, with "de do dum dum" no longer asserted as the "meaning of life," allowing Leonard to maintain a continuous connection of real frisson with the Web sisters, both erotic and paternalistic.

Suzanne was expertly performed, and riotously embraced by the crowd, Leonard at 100 percent. The transition to the Partisan was hugely effective, with the exotic otherness of the Partisan strongly signalled by Javier Mas' nimble fingers strumming sweet strings. The Partisan, which I had not yet heard this tour, carried me away on it's river of yearning ("through the graves the wind is blowing") and I was really moved, in the way the best music is moving, even when the singer is singing about war in French, which I can't understand.

Though Leonard has cut out most of the charming and generous namechecking of the band, he did in phase one of the tour (now the namechecks come at the end of each of the sets, instead of dotted here there and everywhere), he still gives each band member distinct spotlights, and Sharon Robinson's delivery of Boogie Street was one such moment in the sun. She was luminous delivering that song, all by herself (Leonard silent in darkness), building it in intensity, so that to me the song sounded completely new, and I never thought it sounded so good and so warm.

Unlike Sharon, the Webb sisters may not have written "If it be your will," but in my mind, they have come to own it, as their beatific ethereal voices filled the cavernous O2, and transformed it into a giant church, where approximately 18,000 people could could join in their prayer for a better and longer life "if it be your will."

Leonard sang and played long and hard tonight, (as well as languorously reciting chosen verses of his wonderful poem, Thousand Kisses Deep - resonant as ever) and it wasn't until gone 11pm that he "tried to leave" us, and finally succeeded. As I rushed out into the cold air surrounding the O2, I blanketed myself with thoughts of the Chelsea Hotel, and the warmth of heaving bodies. . .
Manchester, June 18 2008
Manchester, June 19 2008
London O2, July 17 2008
London O2, November 14 2008
Royal Albert Hall, November 17 2008
Mercedes Benz World, Weybridge, July 11 2009
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wakeupmartin
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Re: London O2 Arena, November 13 - 14, 2008

Postby wakeupmartin » Sat Nov 15, 2008 12:42 pm

Two days later and I'm still grinning. Forgot to mention, I thought the sound mix was superb.
hogan wrote:English this and English that! Nothing like stereotyping 50 million people. Still I'm glad you enjoyed it.
I know I know... I was stereotyping the English. I only meant it as a gentle dig at my own country. Please take it with a pinch of salt. :)

As to singing along or not. I must admit I've been swayed a bit by the 'keep quiet' arguments. I agree that I'd be a bit annoyed if I was sat near an enthusiastic fan who felt they had to kareoke all the way through. Many Cohen songs deserve a silent appreciation throughout. I'm not advocating a rowdy 'Last Night of the Proms' type sing-a-long. There is singing along and singing along, but some choruses (So Long Marianne, Hallelujah, First we take Manhatten, etc.) are so rousing I think a very natural response is to sing along with Leonard (not over him). Doesn't this add to the intimacy?
Note: Leonard himself often interrupts the end of musicians' solos to name them and show his appreciation.

All the best
Martin
Yorkshire Lad
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Re: London O2 Arena, November 13 - 14, 2008

Postby Yorkshire Lad » Sat Nov 15, 2008 9:56 pm

The man just gets better and better . The 17th June in Manchester was special but the O2 was something else . Both Leonard and the band were more confident and enjoying themselves more . We got more humour , dancing from Leonard and cartwheels from the webb sisters . I honestly think he would have sung all night if he could have and the addition of The Paristan was a master stroke .
And of course I shed my usual tears during Hey that's no way to say goodbye . Are there any tickets left for Manchester I desperate
manchester, london,manchester , a mountain in Wales ,hills in Haiger
Be content with a mistake or two. Perfection holds no compromise. It's a prison for perfect people .Where the flag of insanity flies
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margaret
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Re: London O2 Arena, November 13 - 14, 2008

Postby margaret » Sat Nov 15, 2008 10:01 pm

As far as I know Manchester is not yet sold out.

I might see you you there!

Margaret
Dublin 15th June, Manchester 18th June, Edinburgh 16th July
Cardiff 8th. November, Manchester 30th. November Liverpool 14th July 2009 Barcelona 21st September 2009, Las Vegas 11th December 2010
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MarieM
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Re: London O2 Arena, November 13 - 14, 2008

Postby MarieM » Sun Nov 16, 2008 4:37 am

Thanks so much for the lovely reports from O2. Would someone mind posting the set list for the November 14 concert, especially since it included the rare Chelsea Hotel. Thanks.
Marie
Speaking Cohen

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Stranger
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Re: London O2 Arena, November 13 - 14, 2008

Postby Stranger » Sun Nov 16, 2008 8:47 am

I want to sing along with those who hate sing-a-longers, and people who can't stop jabbering during a concert (like in Amsterdam during the first part of IIBYW). LC is different from rap or house concerts.
" ........... if one can describe as serious the confused comedy of our lives". Graham Greene, "The Comedians".
David Blackman
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Re: London O2 Arena, November 13 - 14, 2008

Postby David Blackman » Sun Nov 16, 2008 3:22 pm

I really enjoyed seeing and hearing Leonard again, that said I thought his July O2 concert was something special and it was not quite the same , but after what has been a long tour you can understand that and he was still 100 per cent, in July I made it 110 percent.
The only thing I found discourteous was two very selfish people in the next row who tried to dance I use the word loosely and blocked our view of the song First we take Manhattan they were of a age when to use the phrase they should no better . So please consider other people when you stand up in the songs we all want to see . As for the two has beens they really were a never was . ;-)
JudasPriest
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Re: London O2 Arena, November 13 - 14, 2008

Postby JudasPriest » Sun Nov 16, 2008 3:52 pm

Had a wonderful time on Friday at the O2. Row 12 meant a really good view and the sound in the arena was excellent (and on that point, Leonard to my surprise thanked the sound crew even naming some of them-could this be a direct answer to the thread posted here pleading with him to do so?? Big coincidence if it's not..)

His vocal was better than I was suspecting-UTube footage rarely does justice to him and although he was clearly singing in a lower register to the incredible gigs I experienced in Dublin in June, it was still surprisingly smooth and very effective. Some subtle and great changes in some of the phrasing ofcertain lyrics from the Summer too. Crowd atmosphere not as electric as Dublin but it was nice to experience him indoors for the first time. And of course it was my first live Partisan, Chelsea Hotel, Famous Blue Raincoat and That's No Way To Say Goodbye. Quick nod of the head too to I Tried To Leave You which was simply sublime.

In reality, probably the last time I will ever see him and I suddenly feel a lot more aware of my own mortality as a result.
Midnight Choir
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Re: London O2 Arena, November 13 - 14, 2008

Postby Midnight Choir » Sun Nov 16, 2008 7:26 pm

Was in row E on Friday. Wow.

I think I preferred the more full-on Hallelujah of July, but The Partisan on Friday was magnificent. I eagerly await the live cd from the tour.
2008: O2 London - July 17 | O2 London - November 13 | O2 London - November 14 | RAH London - November 17 | 2009: Antwerp - July 4 | Weybridge - July 11

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