The Sky Report has moved!

You should be automatically redirected in 6 seconds. If not, visit
and update your bookmarks. To view the post you came here for, simply search the artist name in the sidebar at the new site!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Live Review
LEONARD COHEN, Beacon Theatre
02.19.09 NYC

by Matthew Dunehoo, contributor

Last Thursday Leonard Cohen made a majestic return to the New York City stage, his first performance in the city in, as he himself proclaimed from the stage, “15 years, when I was but a young thing of 60.”

Tickets were prohibitively expensive, and made first available to members of the Leonard Cohen fan club. But, as my friend Adam plugged away at Ticketmaster’s website repeatedly the morning they went on sale, in a succession of rapid-fire searches, we came up with three over a period of an hour, and later drew straws. Goes to show you.

Earlier that week I’d had a conversation with my friend Won about who we most admired as lyricist, and I could hardly utter a name. It appears as if, for some strange reason, I’ve been listening all these years to sounds foremost, not words; To moods and colors in music primarily, and often times ignoring the story. If there was often one to be told, I was unawares.

This coming from someone who has the obligatory archive of wrecked Bob Dylan LP’s, listened to Woody Guthrie EXPLICITLY for the tape hiss, and has never embraced the Boss.

Still…I would be lying if I were to say that Cohen’s poetry hadn’t gone hand in hand in my head with the atmospherics of many of his bitter, fragile, beautiful arrangements in his canon. To divorce the music from the prose of Leonard Cohen is impossible, and one of the things that’s propelled him to such a position of prominence as a songwriter.

“I was born like this, I had no choice. I was born with the gift of a golden voice….”

Some will see this verse as Cohen’s humor, irony, some will see it as science. But all will hear it, and it will resonate with the same ambiguity as one may first encounter when first discovering the feeling that is Leonard Cohen.

I remember being under the impression that to listen to Leonard Cohen was to be depressed. That to play one of his albums, A and B, back to back, was to invoke a dour mood, the sort that wrists fall prey to. Afterall, wasn’t Kurt Cobain paying homage to Cohen in “Pennyroyal Tea,” asking for a Leonard Cohen afterworld. What sort of haunted world was I to imagine that to be, at 16?

But on the 19th, Cohen’s presence and performance was anything but haunted. He was joyous. He was joyous in his scant, anecdotal rapport with the crowd. He was joyous in paying homage to his band, member by descriptive member, twice…. And he was joyous in literally skipping off the stage between encore, between encore, between encore.

I’m thankful for having had the opportunity to witness the legend at work, and for those who missed this performance, I’m told Cohen will be embarking upon an official U.S. tour later this year.

I recommend scraping together the change and catching him the second time around. And don’t bother looking for his language echoing through whatever hall he graces next. It will undoubtedly find you.

No comments: