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The guy who actually, you know, WROTE "Hallelujah"
April 25, 2009 3:56 PM   Subscribe

Leonard Cohen live in London, July 18, 2008. The entire two and a half hour concert. Available for one week only. Previously: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8.
posted by msalt (76 comments total) 36 users marked this as a favorite

 
He's really one of the coolest people, ever.
posted by ORthey at 4:05 PM on April 25, 2009


Terry Gross interviewed him just a couple weeks ago in 2006, on the occasion of his new tour. (Why are you touring? I ran out of money.) Cool stuff.
posted by grobstein at 4:14 PM on April 25, 2009


I just came home from his Seattle show. I find he gets better as I get older. I gotta say, if there's a better songwriter out there I'd like to know. His show was 3 hours long and one of the best live performances I've ever seen.
posted by docpops at 4:19 PM on April 25, 2009


I just saw him here in LA about 2 weeks ago. The performance was so good (especially "Hallelujah", when he seemed to throw more anger into the verses than I've heard in any other recording he's done of it), that I've been wondering where I could find a bootleg of the audio. This London performance (and one in NYC) was the closest I could find at the time.

Anyone know a place that might have the LA performance?
posted by revmitcz at 4:21 PM on April 25, 2009


He is so wonderful. My co-worker went to see him when he was in town a few weeks back. I was so jealous. Thanks for posting, good quality vid too.
posted by haunted by Leonard Cohen at 4:24 PM on April 25, 2009


Just for my understanding - this isn't downloadable into any decent format, right?
posted by docpops at 4:24 PM on April 25, 2009


He's really one of the coolest people, ever.

True.

Thanks for the post, msalt.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:26 PM on April 25, 2009


@docpops : well, there's the live album on iTunes or... ya know, the "other" options (*cough* piratebay *cough*).
posted by revmitcz at 4:30 PM on April 25, 2009


ok - thx - did not realize this was already in itunes.
posted by docpops at 4:35 PM on April 25, 2009


The interview with Jian Ghomeshi (of the Billy Bob debacle) is very good, too. It's on YouTube, on CBC's "Q" channel.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:41 PM on April 25, 2009


What's the funky-looking wind instrument being played in Dance Me To The End Of Love?
posted by CKmtl at 4:41 PM on April 25, 2009


Thank you for this.
posted by R. Mutt at 4:43 PM on April 25, 2009


Thanks for this. I'm amazed by how much more I like his music in settings like this and the New York concert that NPR broadcast, than on his studio recordings. On some of the records he's like the world's most erudite lounge singer. But these arrangements, to me at least, really make the songs come alive.
posted by thebergfather at 4:45 PM on April 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


What's the funky-looking wind instrument being played in Dance Me To The End Of Love?

One of those little synthesizer saxes... looks like this one, from AKAI. They seem more sophisticated and expressive than some of the other ones out there on the market.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:55 PM on April 25, 2009


And I'd just like to say I'm 100% behind the practice of every instrumentalist in the band wearing a hat.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:57 PM on April 25, 2009 [3 favorites]


And actually, to clarify, the AKAI wind controller isn't a synth: it's a MIDI controller that the player can use to trigger any synth or sample source.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:59 PM on April 25, 2009


There was an Austin City Limits with Leonard a few years ago that was transcendent. Milles de gracias, msalt :)
posted by vronsky at 5:06 PM on April 25, 2009


The interview with Jian Ghomeshi (of the Billy Bob debacle) is very good, too.

Well, it gets a little awkward after the whole "Would you ask Auden that?" thing.

Kidding aside, the Q interview can be viewed here.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 5:11 PM on April 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


I love Leonard Cohen so goddamned much. He's easily in my own list of the five or six people who have shown that they're able to write songs of epochal depth and breadth. And of all the people on that list, Lenny has the best sense of humor. Even if all he'd ever done in his life was release an album in the late 80's that sounded like it was produced by 1983 Madonna and had a picture of him wearing a sport coat and sunglasses and eating a banana on the cover, he'd still be a comedic genius; of course, the fact that the record actually turns out to be awesome makes it that much funnier and that much better.

On the subject of Cohen covers, there are very few that are any good at all. One is the first song from Nick Cave's first solo album: "Avalanche". Another one is (yeah, okay) "Hallelujah," but Jeff 'if-I-hadn't-died-I'd-be-just-another-has-been' Buckley's isn't it; John Cale's cover is really the only cover of that song we ever needed, frankly.

I was recently listening to the More Pricks Than Kicks bootleg of Nick Cave's live and unreleased covers and found another nice one: a cover of 'Tower of Song.' It's pretty great. And by 'great,' I mean ridiculously long and exhaustively deconstructive. I guess they signed on to do a track for the I'm Your Fan Cohen tribute album, picked the most unlikely song they could think of for them to cover, got raging drunk, and just started pounding away. The version I've got is almost an hour long; I guess they just edited it down for the comp. He is clearly drunk, as the words keep changing, but he's brilliant enough that they're sometimes funny ('I said to Hank Williams, did you hear what Leonard said? I said to Leonard Cohen that Hank Williams said that he hadn't said anything yet...') to, well, downright ridiculous (as when he makes the song about his penis: 'I said to Leonard Cohen, how big is your dick?... I was born like this, I had no choice, I was born with a huge dick...').

Hey, look - it's on Youtube. Everybody go torture yourself with it - you have my personal and divine dispensation that this suffering will be counted to you as glory by the most holy and reverent St. Cohen on the final day.

Nick Cave and the Drunken Seeds - "Tower Of Songs" (1991) [i] [ii] [iii] [iv]
posted by koeselitz at 5:37 PM on April 25, 2009 [3 favorites]


His first Austin show sold out in 2 minutes. We missed out on tickets, despite being poised over the BUY button at 10:00 am when they went on sale. Then they scheduled a second show, which I didn't find out about until the Statesman ran a review of the Cohen shows. Dammit.
posted by Devils Rancher at 5:42 PM on April 25, 2009


k.d. lang's cover of Hallelujah also kicks ass.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:56 PM on April 25, 2009


Jeff 'if-I-hadn't-died-I'd-be-just-another-has-been' Buckley

Take that back! He had so much more good stuff than one breathy little cover.
posted by kersplunk at 6:02 PM on April 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


I was also at the L.A. show. I actually joined the fan club just so I would have access to the fan presale, and it totally paid off.

I saw him many years ago at the Wiltern, which was one of the most fantastic shows I've ever seen. This was even better.
posted by OolooKitty at 6:04 PM on April 25, 2009


I saw him in L.A. too and yeah, it was quite literally the best show I have ever seen.

I liked that the band dressed up, too. I don't think it was any kind of pretension or old-fashionedness, it's just respect for the music and what they're doing. After a while, I felt sort of bad for coming to the show in a t-shirt.
posted by drjimmy11 at 6:11 PM on April 25, 2009


I'm still incredibly bitter that I couldn't get even 1 ticket to either of his two shows in Ottawa. And that was on presale. I don't know who bought the tickets, or when they managed to do so, but they were sold out before they ever went on sale to the general public. At least according to ticketmaster.

All that to say, thanks for this.
posted by aclevername at 6:19 PM on April 25, 2009


I even loved that he threw the city name into "Hallelujah" ("I didnt come all the way to Tinseltown just to fool ya" at my show, but video confirms he does this on every date).

You have to be pretty damn cool to get away with a move that cheesy, but he pulls it off.
posted by drjimmy11 at 6:23 PM on April 25, 2009


Not to turn it into a cover thread, but Antony's cover of If It Be Your Will is tremendous.

Thanks for the concert link!
posted by Rumple at 7:09 PM on April 25, 2009


I work for one of the venues having this show, and I couldn't get tickets to this. We only have one show, and the presales practically bought out the house, even though we'd held tickets for the official on sale, and even though there were more seats than usual in the spot where there's normally a pit orchestra.

There aren't many artists with people in their early twenties all the way to people in their fifties and sixties ready to buy $125 tickets within five minutes of the on sale announcement. That's a lot pent-up demand.
posted by gladly at 7:22 PM on April 25, 2009 [3 favorites]


kersplunk: Take that back! He had so much more good stuff than one breathy little cover.

Sorry. I don't go for high-pitched grunge-lite - some of the songs are sort of catchy, but it doesn't go past that for me. I've tried, believe me - I've had plenty of people suggest him - but no go.

But somehow I really enjoyed listening to that entire hour of Nick Cave butchering Leonard Cohen.
posted by koeselitz at 7:25 PM on April 25, 2009


> At least according to ticketmaster.

God I hate those bastards.

I'm just glad he's still with us, and sorry that it took theft by his manager to get him to tour again.
posted by Decimask at 7:45 PM on April 25, 2009


I went to the new york show and it was dynamite. The all songs considered podcast alluded to by thebergfather has selected songs from this show, but not the songs I want, and I've been looking for the full show without success since then.

The national film board of canada streams an old LC documentary on its website.
posted by ezola at 8:00 PM on April 25, 2009


I'd also like to say that, for the LA show, the only way I even got a chance to see him was because I'd helped make some promotional sites for people who represent him. For that, I got to hang in the VIP room and watch him from about 50 feet away from the stage.

I'm only mentioning the VIP room for this reason : in said room, I got to hang out with Sting, Dustin Hoffman and Richard Lewis. One day, I hope to kick as much ass as Cohen for almost the sole reason of having Dustin Hoffman take 4+ hours out of his life to come and hang at one of my shows.
posted by revmitcz at 8:00 PM on April 25, 2009


So I sent my parents the link to this seeing how they are huge Cohen fans, and my dad just told me they had this concert both on CD and DVD. Darn it!
posted by wheelieman at 8:03 PM on April 25, 2009


Yeah, this has been on CD (a double) and DVD for a couple weeks, I think. It's a good show but I prefer Field Commander Cohen.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 8:27 PM on April 25, 2009


Wonderful. Thank you.
posted by chance at 8:38 PM on April 25, 2009


Another happy attendee of the LA show, on April 10th. I missed Cohen's last tour by a continent, and figured I would just never see him perform in the flesh.

As for tickets, I was another one clutching an Amex card and reloading Ticketmaster from 9:50 a.m. onward, and we got respectable seats but nothing spectacular. Pent up demand, indeed.

Cohen was wonderful, heartbreaking, spooky, funny, compelling and energetic. This remarkable version of his always remarkable band was sublime.
posted by kenlayne at 9:18 PM on April 25, 2009


I hope Leonard makes a shitton of money from this tour, to help make up for his sleazy whatever-he-was that stole all his savings.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:19 PM on April 25, 2009


One is the first song from Nick Cave's first solo album: "Avalanche".

nitpicking here, but what you mean is Nick Cave's first album with the Bad Seeds, as opposed to with the Birthday Party. Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds are far from being a solo act.
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:28 PM on April 25, 2009


oh, and you mentioned the I'm Your Fan cover album. plenty of good covers there, including John Cale's version of Hallelujah - the best cover of that song, imho.

the album's not quite as good as Sgt Pepper Knew My Father, though, but it's hard to beat the Fall doing A Day in the Life.
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:34 PM on April 25, 2009


Saw Cohen a few weeks back in Oakland. Great show. My favorite of his many lines:

"Last time I toured here was fifteen years ago. I was sixty years old. Just a starstruck kid with a head full of dreams."
posted by benzenedream at 1:18 AM on April 26, 2009 [4 favorites]


benzenedream : damn, he said the same thing at the LA show. Seems the only joke he might have made that was exclusive to the LA show (and a damned funny one at that) was when, between songs, he mentioned the current U.S. economic crisis and he said

"people are... very worried right now about what's been going on. Some say it.... might even be worse than.............. the year 2k. Man.. that was rough".
posted by revmitcz at 1:38 AM on April 26, 2009


I saw him at Glastonbury last summer. Swear to god, when he took the stage, the clouds parted and the sun shone for the first time that day. Plus, he called us his "angels born of the mud". Swoon.
posted by Optamystic at 1:58 AM on April 26, 2009


My dad and I saw the show when I was in Vancouver last week. It was just amazing. I'm so glad I got to see him live--the man played for three hours, not including the intermission, and was just as energetic and powerful at the end as at the beginning. I doubt I'd be able to sustain that energy at my age, never mind 40 years from now. God it was fantastic. And it was really something to see the wide age range represented there--from teenagers to the elderly.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 2:02 AM on April 26, 2009


On a side note, he also has the hottest back-up singers I've ever seen.
posted by Optamystic at 2:04 AM on April 26, 2009


Thanks so much for posting this. I was fortunate to see his concert earlier this year at a vineyard north of Sydney, and hearing I'm Your Man again brings back tipsy memories of dancing in the grassy aisles with my beloved. I departed from my usual reserved concertgoing behaviour to bellow for Famous Blue Raincoat during the encore...and he actually played it, last of all. A small, hopeful part of my heart still wants to believe that Leonard Cohen altered his playlist just for me.
posted by embrangled at 2:40 AM on April 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


I saw him in Auckland earlier this year. I like his stuff but not gaga over it (my boyfriend is) and I was surprised at how much I loved the show. He got a standing ovation just for walking on the stage. It was just after the USA elections and when he sang Democracy right at the end the crowd went nuts. Heh, then a few weeks later we went back to the same venue and saw Nine Inch nails, that was quite a contrast.
posted by shelleycat at 3:24 AM on April 26, 2009


'The guy who actually, you know, WROTE "Hallelujah"'

Every time someone gets me into thinking I should finally check out LC, I remember this fact and change my mind. But I think this time I really will give it a shot (though I'll still skip Hallelujah if he plays it).
posted by Eideteker at 5:43 AM on April 26, 2009


Eideteker, you should finally check out LC. You should really give it a shot. I mean, he only happens to be one of the very finest songwriters alive.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:07 AM on April 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


these guys did a great LC tribute night. teensy-tiny aboriginal singer ngaiire (myspace) belted out the most heartbreakingly beautiful version of hallelujah (yeh, better than john cale's) - shite, quite a voice...
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:21 AM on April 26, 2009


correction: it was Bird on a Wire that she sang. find it if you can; you won't be sorry.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:30 AM on April 26, 2009


(So, theoretically, how would you record this?)
posted by markkraft at 6:58 AM on April 26, 2009


Nice...thanks for the link...

My kid was a Leonard Cohen fan back in the 80's when he was mostly into punk rock... I never figured that out.... but was glad he was listening to it...

Ironically, he was then part of choosing Hallelujah as one of the songs in Watchmen....
posted by HuronBob at 6:59 AM on April 26, 2009


"(So, theoretically, how would you record this?)"

video, probably can't do it...

audio- if you were on a mac you could use audio hijack, theoretically, that is
posted by HuronBob at 7:03 AM on April 26, 2009


Sorry to say that he made that joke at the new york show, too, revmitcz. Somehow it doesn't make him any less delightful to me.
posted by felix grundy at 7:07 AM on April 26, 2009


Previously: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8...

And 9: don't forget the Story of Suzanne!
posted by y2karl at 7:09 AM on April 26, 2009


Saw him last week in Vancouver. Has anyone made an arena seem more intimate? And the guy has stage poses Bon thinks he can get away with...
posted by pellucid at 9:26 AM on April 26, 2009


...er, that's "Bono"(you know, "the bon")

Oh, and when he did "The Future" in Vancouver, during the "white girls dancin'" line, the Webb Sisters (backup singers) did freaking backflips in unison. But they still couldn't outshine our Len
posted by pellucid at 9:31 AM on April 26, 2009


LC remains amazingly sexy -- I can't even add the qualifier "for his age". He is so unrepentently heterosexual, so in love with women (even though I'm sure he's been no picnic to be married to) it's irresistible, to me anyway. He's the boy from the past who turned a girl into his muse -- it's intoxicating still.
posted by thinkpiece at 9:34 AM on April 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


i am so excited that i got tickets to his philly show in may!
posted by misanthropicsarah at 11:47 AM on April 26, 2009


Leonard Cohen is one aspect of Canadiana that I, a fairly recent immigrant, really have not appreciated until now... so thank you very much for reducing my ignorance, msalt. Listening to both the concert and the Terry Gross interview grobstien linked to caused me to realise that Cohen treats song lyrics and poetry fluidly, segueing from one to the other; I've placed a number of his books of poetry on my wish list as a result.

But the most revealing aspect of the entire concert for me, and the one that appealed to me most, after the lyrics and sheer musicality, was Cohen's obvious and deep humility. During every other song he was introducing and praising members of his backup band, gently prompting applause from the audience. That, more than anything else, has endeared him to me.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 5:03 PM on April 26, 2009


Cohen's obvious and deep humility

if i'm not mistaken, he's spent many years as a practicing buddhist, which might have something to do with it.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:33 PM on April 26, 2009


Thanks for this.
posted by Divine_Wino at 9:13 PM on April 26, 2009


Also, yes, he's one of the coolest motherfuckers to ever stalk this rusty, gutty old earth.
posted by Divine_Wino at 9:18 PM on April 26, 2009


Another vote for awesomeness - he donated A$200,000 to the victims of the bushfires when he weas touring Australia. We saw him in Auckland... long, fantastic concert.
posted by slightlybewildered at 9:49 PM on April 26, 2009


nfb. ca/film made when he was a famous young poet.
posted by hortense at 9:52 PM on April 26, 2009


Even mentioning Bono in the same breath as Leonard Cohen... that's a paddlin'.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 10:14 PM on April 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Ironically, he was then part of choosing Hallelujah as one of the songs in Watchmen....

That's definitely a mixed blessing.
posted by benzenedream at 10:46 PM on April 26, 2009


Thanks for all the thanks. I love me some songwriters, and Cohen's up there with Townes Van Zandt, Will Oldham, Neil Young and Joni Mitchell in my starting lineup.
posted by msalt at 1:16 AM on April 27, 2009


"Bono isn't fit to tie Leonard Cohen's shoelaces"

also: Will Oldham. yes.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:01 AM on April 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


I just got back from the Seattle show. Crappy venue (WAMU Theater). . .Crappy to deal with AEG and TicketMaster, but the rest was a small sample of what I hope that Heaven will be like.

It was my 5th time seeing him perform and each time has been unique and special.

(My mom used to worry so about me when I listened constantly to his early stuff.)
posted by Danf at 8:28 AM on April 27, 2009


>>>Cohen's up there with Townes Van Zandt, Will Oldham, Neil Young and Joni Mitchell in my starting lineup.
>>Bono isn't fit to tie Leonard Cohen's shoelaces
>also: Will Oldham. yes.


?? Are you agreeing that Oldham's a good songwriter, or putting him in the Bono-sub-Cohen's-shoelace-tying category? Or both?
posted by msalt at 8:49 AM on April 28, 2009


How I (Finally) Met Leonard Cohen

A day or two later, Peter told him about a woman who wanted to meet him, and that she was very tall. “The girl with the bicycle? How tall is she?” asked Leonard Cohen, jumping in the air several times to demonstrate his readiness to meet a giant.

posted by Rumple at 11:48 AM on April 28, 2009


Bonobo isn't fit to spit-polish Will Oldham's skanky old hillbilly boots, but Will and Leonard could probably sit back & sip aperitifs together & chat about all manner of things.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:02 PM on April 28, 2009


Danf: but the rest was a small sample of what I hope that Heaven will be like.

Yes. There is something about his songs that is very spiritual, but not in a hokey way. I am not a religious person, but while at the Cohen concert, I do remember thinking I could handle an afterlife if it featured Leonard and his backup musicians.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 7:32 PM on April 28, 2009


Bonobo isn't fit to spit-polish Will Oldham's skanky old hillbilly boots, but Will and Leonard could probably sit back & sip aperitifs together & chat about all manner of things.

OK, we're cool then. Though the widely available U2 concert at the Paradise in Boston (1981 promo EP) is pretty great rock and roll. Before Bono got into heavy breathing during shows. It's highly original (mostly Boy album) and rocks, but you're right, not much in the way of songwriting.
posted by msalt at 10:39 PM on April 28, 2009


A couple of 70s clips are just up on YouTube. [via]
posted by tellurian at 9:24 PM on May 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


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