I know I'm breaking the rules but here goes... a gift for my Irish friends who will have a special appreciation for this review. Sent to me this am by a close friend in Toronto. It's also in the section where it should be posted:
TORONTO STAR Saturday June 7th
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Love-in at Sony Centre as aging poet seduces audience with his ageless, gorgeous verse
Jun 07, 2008 04:30 AM
Pop Music Critic
It's a humbling thing, being in the presence of true greatness, especially when you get the gnawing sense that this is the last time you'll share an audience with it.
Leonard Cohen hasn't toured in 15 years. At 73, he's as dapper and as handy with a bon mot as he ever was, but there was a slight frailty evident in the legendary poet's suited-and-fedora'd frame as he serenaded a rapt crowd at the Sony Centre for two-and-a-half entrancing hours last night that suggested he can't have too many more world tours in him.
This was a love-in, where standing ovations sprang spontaneously from the floor with some regularity – heck, "Hallelujah" had a few bodies up after the first chorus – and not just because Cohen's admirers can't be sure when he's likely to emerge again from the ascetic California Buddhist retreat where he's been living in recent years. No, this was a love-in because the man is the real deal, a songwriter who's contributed so much ageless, gorgeous verse to the English language that he makes one wonder why anyone else even bothers.
Flanked by a nine-piece band that brought a flawless, finely nuanced backdrop of groove – what you get when you employ a bass player like Roscoe Beck as your musical director – to two full sets of career-spanning favourites, Cohen politely doffed his hat and folded himself into the band to allow generous solo spots for his accompanists at regular intervals and gave a prominent role throughout to the angelic backup vocal trio of his sometime co-writer Sharon Robinson and sisters Charlie and Hatty Webb.
Cohen's own signature, tectonic baritone was in tip-top shape last night from the opening lines of "Dance Me to the End of Love" to the jubilant version of "Closing Time" that brought a lengthy encore to climax. At times, it sounded a little more weathered than we might have remembered it, but that only brought extra nihilist gravitas to "The Future" and "Everybody Knows," and only made the blues of "Bird on a Wire" and the weary bossa nova questing of "Tower of Song" that much more resonant. The infamous ladykiller could still have had his pick of any of the women in the room after the mildly lewd "I'm Your Man" or the heart-stopping version of "Suzanne" he unleashed over his own quiet, acoustic-guitar accompaniment during the second half of the show.
It was his words, Cohen's wonderful, romantic, breathtakingly perfect words, though, that were the true stars of the evening.
Indeed, the highlight of the night might have been when the music all but stopped and he intoned the spoken-word meditation on aging and mortality "A Thousand Kisses Deep" with all the weight of a man who's staring both in the face.
Forwarded by Séan