Wednesday, April 22, 2009
An amazing experience
Leonard Cohen and his Unified Heart Touring Company held us spellbound for more than three hours last night at Victoria's Save-On Food Memorial Centre.
At the age of 75 Leonard skipped onto the stage, crouched down and launched into the iconic Bird on a Wire in that familiar deep and resonant voice. He had us in his hand. All of us from teenagers to grandmothers.
And the evening unfolded with a selection of songs reflecting his lifetime--and ours. From Suzanne through Everybody Knows and Hallelujah to recitations of recent poetry from his newly published Book of Longing, Leonard moved us through the evening--and our lives.
He is such a contradiction in his gangster's clothing and his crooked smile, always humble, sometimes joking, and putting everything into his singing. Moving us from giggles to meditation to hand clapping. The arrangements are impeccable. The band is fantastic; the backup singers sublime. Sharon Robinson and The Webb Sisters sing like angels. The last encore showcased them doing harmonies to a prayer, If it be Your Will, that will stay with me forever. Twice during the show he took the time to speak about each of the musicians and singers accompanying him, and followed each accolade up with a humble bow like a Buddhist monk.
We got home about 11:30 and all night long lines from those songs moved through my head, especially this one: There is a crack in everything; that's how the light gets in....
I'll end this with a quote from Pico Iyer's piece in the program, "...what Lenoard Cohen tells us is that all of us, in our solitary trembling, can come together in a kind of communion. So many of us have been listening to him alone, or sharing the songs with a single love as the night comes on and the candles begin to gutter. But here, for the first time in fifteen years, we're all together in our observances. People stand up to welcome the stranger home, and rise up again, and again, in battalions as they recognize their old lives coming up. No one needs flashing lights or changes of costume; the words and the feeling are enough."
Here's a clip of Leonard singing Hallelujahfrom a recent concert on this tour.
It was an amazing experience.