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Leonard Cohen Still The Man After All These Years
By Stuart Derdeyn, The Province
December 2, 2010 10:21 PM
[More pictures at the link]
Leonard Cohen is the only septuagenarian selling out stadiums that I can think of.
That the Montreal poet is gigging around the globe as much for financial necessity as creative expression has been oft reported. Nobody would begrudge the man his money after the show he put on at Rogers Arena on Thursday night.
Like his last show here in 2009, Cohen and his incredibly well primed sextet and trio of backing singers delivered a pristine set of his considerable song catalogue.
True, it was much the same as his previous show; all the way down to some of the stage banter.
But the classics are still being re-worked and explored by the man and his band. You needed look no further than the extended version of "A Bird On A Wire," where guitarist Bob Metzger coaxed a gorgeous solo out that saxophonist Dino Soldo answered beautifully.
On the closing word 'free,' Cohen held onto it just long enough to attain maximum drama and get the crowd raving.
Amazing that Hollywood never got its talons into the guy. But he is from a generation of talents that pre-dates maximum product placement.
Literate, probing and always in search of the exact transformative turn of phrase, his work is not about Top 10 - even if "Hallelujah" has replaced "Knocking on Heaven's Door" as the tune every liquor store strummer is strumming this holiday season.
I'd like to hear one of them hit the foghorn basso that Cohen dropped in "In My Secret Life."
The difficulty in attaining intimate moments in an arena is no challenge to this crack unit. The 12-string acoustic solo leading in "Who By Fire" was lovely and the song yielded up some fantastic bass slides from Roscoe Beck as Neil Larsen got funky on his Hammond B-3 organ.
I love the sound person. The entire evening's mix was better than my home stereo.
And an Abba-esque take on "First We Take Manhattan" to boot. It was a night that just kept on delivering the goods.
Plus, he is really self-deprecating too. The line in "Chelsea Hotel" about making an exception for unattractive men was very funny. You've never heard anyone introduce a band the way the group was Thursday night. It was a roast.
Almost as funny as watching the audience sprint to the washroom during the intermission. If only they could design something so you could just go in your seat.
"Thanks so much friends. Thanks for staying." Cohen introduced the second set with the sarcastic "Tower of Song." The lyric about being born with a golden voice was classic. Heck, the whole night was. Yes, he sticks to the script. But it's a good one.
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