Coachella 2009: Two lions in winter -- Leonard Cohen and Morrissey
07:22 AM PT, Apr 18 2009
Tonight, Coachella has brought us two wise men who know how to reach the heavenly center of sorrow and the sorrowful center of heaven. Leonard Cohen courted a dedicated crowd at the Outdoor Theater just past sunset, followed by an ever-dapper, if put-upon, Morrissey on the Main Stage. Both encountered the problem of sound bleeding in from other areas of the field but approached it in different ways. More importantly, both aired their versions of aged grace.
Leonard Cohen has pared down his multi-hour show that recently aired at L.A. Live into a relatively lean hour of almost nonstop "hits," if Cohen can be said to possess such worldly possessions. Stepping into his crowd felt like stepping into a foreign country, intimate and already bonded by their fierce adoration of their patron saint. "Dance Me to the End of Love" set the tone, followed by a slow but hard-bitten "Bird on a Wire"; the Webb sisters' sugar-water-sweet backup harmonies coated Cohen's grizzly incantations.
The ghost of the Chelsea Hotel certainly had his grip on the crowd, but bothersome sound bleed-in stole some of the magic. The sound for his set should have been turned up, but Cohen didn't seem to notice or mind one way or another, his Buddhist spirit lost in the gloaming of his songs. "Everybody Knows" received a spooky Spanish guitar intro; "First We Take Manhattan" was goosed up with organ. But the real ethereal beauty of his show was "Hallelujah" -- for every chorus, gold lights bathed the audience members, who lifted their hands to receive the power. It was good to see Cohen persevere and recapture his full grandeur.
Morrissey is not nearly as classy as Cohen, but that's exactly the point. He's now a late-period Elvis, bulky around the middle, who stalks the stage moping and mocking his foes. "Girlfriend in a Coma" is from his sprightlier days in the Smiths; his newer music has broader tones of mariachi and spaghetti Western, but he knows how to perform those old Smiths songs with a drollness that borders on primordial.
After complaining about the unbearable stench of "burning animals," as he labeled the wares of the concession stands, Morrissey turned in a performance of "Ask" that eschewed celebrating the shy. Instead, he performed it with the subdued frustration of the eternal butler, always serving somebody else. But by the time "How Soon Is Now?" landed, Morrissey was back to being "the son and heir of nothing in particular," crouching during the ferocious percussion interlude, forever waiting to pounce.
-- Margaret Wappler
http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/music_b ... aches.html