I am a bit late, but now I have processed my pictures from Prague and Vienna, so I am finally posting my review. I am posting the review of both concerts into this Vienna thread, co that I can compare them a bit.
First I have to say those were my Leonard Cohen concerts no. 1 and 2, which I think is quite rare on this forum, so here come some thoughts from someone, who has never seen Mr. Cohen before - I missed the 2008 and 2009 concerts in Prague, since I thought the tickets were too expensive and I regretted it ever since. This time I bought the tickets the minute the pre-sale started.
The best thing about seeing someone live for the first time is that feeling „Wow, that is REALLY HIM!“ That never happens again on second, third or tenth concert, and that was my very first thought when Mr. Cohen appeared on stage in Prague. He got a standing ovation right at the beginning and when he started to sing, my first impressions were that the sound was absolutely outstanding and that Leonard’s voice was even deeper and smoother than on the live recordings. Well, his voice is actually exactly the same as on the recordings of course, but the real live experience is much much stronger than listening to any DVD. The sound in the hall was really perfect though. The sound in an arena is always a compromise, sometimes it is acceptable, sometimes horrible, sometimes very good. Mr. Cohen had the best sound I have ever heard in an arena.
As the concert went, it fulfilled all my very high expectations and there were some things that surprised me. I have seen the Live In London and Songs From The Road DVDs many times, but it was right there at the concert that I realised how incredibly good the Webb sisters were. Of course, the DVDs concentrate mostly on Leonard, but at the concert you can concentrate on anyone on the stage as you will and when Come Healing came, I couldn’t believe my ears. It is a nice song on the CD, but the live rendition was absolutely outstanding, one of the finest pieces of music I have ever heard. In one review in one Czech paper, there was writen, that Cohen had the best backing vocalists in the world. Well, I haven’t heard them all, but from those I have heard, they are the best indeed. Needless to say, they are the best looking ones
Now, it is fair to say, that everybody on the stage was really great, Sharon Robinson’s Alexandra Leaving was beautiful.
So after the first set (about 1 hour 5 min.), there was a 20 min. break, then the second set – another hour and then came another big surprise – the rush for the stage. Now, when I read some reviews here, I know it is a common thing at Leonard’s concerts, but I am glad I didn’t read it before, since the fact that I spent the last 45 minutes absolutely unexpectadly 1 meter from the stage, was a great bonus that lifted my mood another great deal, if that was possible. The concert was over too soon it seemed, though incl. The 20 min. break it lasted 3 hours 15 min.!
If I wrote the review right after the concert, I would have probably writen that it was the best show I have ever seen, now in a slight retrospect it would not seem fair. The truth is, that I have seen many concerts and there were some that were truly outstanding. The Leonard Cohen experience stands up there with the absolutely best ones, like Springsteen or McCartney, but I really can not say which one was a bit better than another. And there would be no point in trying to do so. Some concerts are just perfect down to every little detail and this was one of them. As was the next one in Vienna.
So six day passed and I went to Vienna. I almost missed the concert, since for months I thought that it was on Sunday the 28th, while it was actually on Saturday the 27th. I realised my mistake by pure chance in the evening on Friday 26th, which was pretty much the last moment, since it it takes me half a day to get to Vienna. The thought that I could have travelled to Vienna on Sunday, accomodated myself in the hotel and and gone to the hall in the evening only to realise that the concert had been the day before is highly unpleasant
Anyway, while in Prague I had a ticket on the tribune, a very good one, but still rather far, I had a second row in Vienna. On a side, but a great seat really. I sat next to one German member of this forum – Hartmut, if I remember correctly, do I? Was that you – second row, seat n. 4?
The show was similar to the one week before with the exception of one song – Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye in Prague and Save The Last Dance For Me in Vienna. What was different was the audience. The audience in Prague was really good actually, considering that the Czech audience isn’t usually very warm. It was very acceptive and the mood was great, but it was waaay better in Vienna, which showed mainly during the encores.
At that point I still didn’t know that the before-the-encores rush for the stage was a common thing and I was curious whether it would happen again. There was actually a little gathering in front of stage before the second set started and it looked for a moment that there would be a standing in front of the stage for the whole second set, but the security let people to take pictures for about two minutes and then asked them to sit down, which was logical, since it would probably ruin the show for the people in the centre of the first rows. I thought it was actually a nice gesture from the security, that they let those people in front of the stage for a while.
The rush came with the first notes of Take This Waltz, so one song earlier and that was the time when the atmosphere in the hall took off. I ended up even a bit closer than in Prague this time. People sang along, the line „There is a concert hall in Vienna…“ was loudly appreciated as one would expect, but the best thing came during So Long, Marianne – people sang along from the beginning, but with the start of the refrain it sounded as if an incredibly loud chorus was played from some loudspeakers from the back. It took me by surprise and I am sure it did Leonard too. He stopped singing and looked absolutely taken aback. The same happened during the other refrains too, and Leonard obviously enjoyed it and smiled broadly, but the first time he was stunned. I was filming at that moment and I watched it many times. The look on Leonard’s face was priceless. I don’t know, maybe I am just describing something that is common at Cohen’s concerts, I can only compare it with Prague and it didn’t happen there. And it was magic. There were other great moments – during Closing Time for instance, when every line „It’s closing time…“ was followed by loud „No, no, no!“ from the audience to Leonard’s obvious amusement. Again, I have no idea whether it is normal or not, but it didn’t happen in Prague and it was great.
Save The Last Dance For Me...and just like in Prague, after more than 3 hours it was over too soon, and I can only hope that, in a year or two I will have another chance to experience it again. If so, I will be among the first ones to buy tickets again. And if there would be a chance to see the Webb sisters solo, I will be there for sure, I checked the YouTube for some of their solo stuff and it is excellent. Thank you all for two unforgetable nights! I mean everyone on stage and everyone in the audience.
My pictures from Prague:
And my pictures from Vienna: