Well, well. After all my wailing in my recent post on Leonard Cohen’s biography, I’ve managed to mend the gap in my cultural/literary education. The concert on Sat was a marvel in a number of ways. Starting with the crowd. Lots of black suits and snap brim hats. We arrived at the art deco marvel, Oakland’s Paramount Theater, about 7:30 for an 8 pm curtain (actually started around 8:15, but no problem there.) And this 78-year-old icon went on for three and a half hours. He ended once. We wondered if he’d do an encore, and just when we’d decided he wouldn’t, he came back on for another 45 minutes. Take that you snot-nose prima donas who let warmup bands fill the first hour, then come on for 45 minutes or an hour and call it a concert.
The musicians he’d assembled were marvelous. Susanne liked the violinist best, and I won’t argue her choice, but my favorite was the mandolin/blalalaika/Spanish guitar guy. Yum. The backup singers did a fine job, though giving them solos was perhaps not the best musical decision possible.
I recognized all but a few of the numbers, which surprised me somewhat because 1) I was expecting some new material, and 2) I didn’t realize I’d acquired such an extensive knowledge of the canon in the short cramming period I’d had since the commentary on the biography. It’s possible that one or two of the unfamiliar numbers was new, but I suspect I just hadn’t quite caught up.
An interesting note. He spent much of the concert singing on his knees. Whether his old legs were just not up to the long stint or he’s always done that, I don’t know, but it’s very effective. Kneeling in front of a musician who’s executing a stunning solo is an excellent way of paying homage to the folks who support you.
So, here’s to Leonard and to me. Glad we both lived long enough to get acquainted after I’d neglected you for so long. . . .