Amen: Leonard Cohen sits in front of the Bass Concert Hall – Music


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I am your man: Leonard Cohen at the Bass Concert Hall, 10/31/12 (by Gary Miller)

At 78 – seven years older than Dylan, 15 older than Springsteen, and 17 months younger than Willie – Leonard Cohen makes everyone look like a Louis Armstrong of today: an iconic clown. Last night at Bass Concert Hall, the Canadian crooner channeled over two dozen songs into an unabated whisper for 3.5 hours. He duplicates the feat there again tonight.

Using no visible teleprompter and sporting the knees of an Olympian volleyball player, Cohen trotted on stage to a group where four of the six men were also dressed in their employer’s usual coat, tie and hat, while his three harmony sirens wore trouser suits. As with her pair of Long Center concerts in 2009, her supplication began with the first song, “Dance Me to the End of Love”.

That the epic performance began in much the same way as his tour of the past four years – his first in decades – was worrying at first. Like Springsteen, this Boss of Bosses wants any Leonard Cohen show to be the only one you’ll need if you only consume one encounter. “The Future”, “Bird on a Wire” and “Everybody Knows” all in a row after the first game has paid off and up front.

And yet, contrary to conventional wisdom, new material from legacy acts is often found to be paramount to any concert in that, as new songs beat and breathe, they can also match the vigor with which a catalog is reinterpreted. in concert. Fortunately, the only conventional thing about Leonard Cohen is that his songs rhyme. When he finally dived into “Darkness” from his foundational new record Old ideas half an hour into the evening, the nostalgia of yesteryear has become the cornerstone of today.

Old ideas rustles with fall mortality, but it does so with a ruminating grunt rather than resignation. By inserting “Darkness”, “Amen” and the first song from the new album, “Going Home”, Cohen gave his show a contemporary steel backbone as proof that he won’t back down until his knees give way. .

Only everything remained: a trio of big name Austin who anchored the band, guitarist Mitch Watkins, drummer Rafael Gayol, bassist / conductor Roscoe Beck; the British seduction of the Webb Sisters in harmony with longtime Cohen collaborator and co-writer Sharon Robinson; and the hypnotic and exotic mastery of the strings of the Spaniard Javier Mas and the Moldovan violinist Alex Bublitchi. No more oars and oars of poetry of great anthology as a motor.

Sandwiched between “Darkness” and “Amen”, the biggest hit “Sisters of Mercy” always wore its gothic rocker mascara. The first set ran from 8:15 p.m. to 9:45 p.m., and at 10 p.m. sharp, Cohen & Company returned for another 75-minute tour which, while not entirely necessary in its jazz-democratic presentation of individual talent, did nonetheless delivered most of the canon, including the second opening set “Suzanne”, “I’m Your Man” and a version of Cohen’s beatific “Hallelujah” that put the singer in a higher register than any audience. has probably only known in three generations of modern music.

“So Long Marianne” and “First We Take Manhattan” kick off the following half-hour, “Famous Blue Raincoat”, “Going Home” and “Closing Time” reminders – all topped with an audible set-list in the finale, “Save the last dance for me.” On that Halloween night, Leonard Cohen was really scary. It’s even more frightening to contemplate music, life and culture without him.

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