Leonard Cohen Live: ‘Still Working for your smile’

Last night a friend and I went to see Leonard Cohen. Being as we’ve both been in love with him since we were about 16 this was a pretty momentous event.  He danced onto the stage, a very small man in a snappy suit and trilby hat, genial, gentlemanly and still gorgeous.  His stamina is astounding. I doubt I’ll be able to perform for three hours when I’m seventy four.  It was more about seeing him in the flesh than anything else, but finding him in good voice was an added bonus.  And what a crowd pleaser! He didn’t mess us around with the set; he sang our favourites.  This isn’t in the right order, but he gave us:

Dance me to the end of love

Ain’t no Cure for Love

Bird on a Wire

The Future

In My Secret Life

Hey, that’s no way to say goodbye

Who by Fire (at which point I am struck by the fact that I am singing along to ‘Who by Fire’ with Leonard Cohen)

The Partisan (wonderful arrangement)

Hallelujah (during which Philomela has a moment)

Everybody Knows

The Gypsy Wife

Famous Blue Raincoat (during which I have a moment)

Suzanne

So Long Marianne

Boogie Street

I’m Your Man

Take this Waltz

Democracy

First we Take Manhattan (another great arrangement)

Tower of Song

If it be your will

I tried to leave you

When he sang ‘I Tried to Leave you,’ in the final encore he positioned the audience as the beloved.  Corny? Yes a little, but sweet because we all know this is his “thank you and goodbye” tour for his fans. Tower of Song was also very affecting for this reason.  It was lovely to see him enjoying himself so much.  Although his detractors accuse him of being a miserable old groaner, there was nothing miserable about this gig.  It was warm and humorous.

I was wondering afterwards why I’m so passionate about Leonard Cohen.  I think it has to do with the fact that he’s so engaged with life.  As my friend said, she finds some of his politics reprehensible, but you can’t deny that the man’s thinking deeply about big questions.  I also noticed that we were both singing along to ‘Everybody Knows’ putting our own emphases on the line “the good guys lose.”   Life is hard, it takes a huge amount of courage, we fuck up repeatedly, relationships are never perfect, human communication is relentlessly difficult, and more often than not, the good guys do lose.  But we keep trying and thinking and loving and we get through it all  somehow.

Here he is singing Bird on a Wire in 1979.

 

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7 thoughts on “Leonard Cohen Live: ‘Still Working for your smile’

  1. I don’t care if I am a lesbian, if I ever find a time machine, get back to 1979, and get the opportunity, I am so doing him.
    Hmm, I’d go ten or twelve years earlier, I don’t want Janis Joplin’s sloppy seconds, or to have a romantic moment interrupted by Phil Spector brandishing a gun.
    But yeah, I’m pretty jealous. Although if he did anything from his debut I’d pretty much lose my shit.

  2. I give you my complete blessing to jump in a time machine and screw Leonard Cohen’s brains out.
    You really are going to have to make a good mix of his stuff for me, I only know him through covers of his work.

  3. So, SO, jealous.
    You don’t want to know what we paid for the tickets though. Thank goodness I got a tax rebate last year.
    Hmm, I’d go ten or twelve years earlier, I don’t want Janis Joplin’s sloppy seconds, or to have a romantic moment interrupted by Phil Spector brandishing a gun.
    Well, it would seem that I am just more open-minded than you. I’ll take him anytime between 1967 and 79. I don’t mind sharing with Janis Joplin, although it probably would be a good idea to try and avoid Phil Spector now I come to think of it.
    I give you my complete blessing to jump in a time machine and screw Leonard Cohen’s brains out.
    You really are going to have to make a good mix of his stuff for me, I only know him through covers of his work.

    Thank you, that is true generosity.
    You may be sorry you asked for a mix though(50 Leonard Cohen songs coming right up)

  4. I got to know Leonard Cohen through Tanita Tikaram – he’s a great favourite now. I’d do Tanita, then we could listen to Cohen later.. 😉

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