Archive for the ‘Leonard Cohen’ Category
I had listened to only the first couple of cuts off Leonard Cohen’s “London Live” album (streamed by NPR online) before I was surfing the net to find out Cohen’s tour dates and stops in the US. The closest location to me was in Grand Prairie, Texas (between Dallas and Ft. Worth) this last Friday, April 3rd. A modest three hour drive away.
Within minutes I was on Ticketmaster. My ongoing unemployment and need to conserve cash nagged at me as I trolled for the best “cheap” seat available. There was one available in the center of the first row of the mezzanine. A respectable seat for $57. I stopped, however, before passing go and finalizing the transaction.
“Just for the sake of, let’s see what is available at any price…” I coaxed myself.
A few seconds later, there was the seat – Row O, Seat 11 just right of center in the orchestra. With a price tag of $150.
Given my current situation – an uncertain future, dwindling reserves, financial obligations – I hesitated. How could I justify spending that much for a concert? And not only just for the ticket. There was gas for the car and, most likely, an overnight stay in a hotel. The price tag was ballooning.
And then… I let all that go. It was purely an impulse; a decision made within a single unfettered heartbeat; a leap without care. How could I let a chance of a lifetime slip by?
We can live our lives blandly or we can flavor it with a seasoning of rich experiences and adventure. And while I’m prone to live in the former, this time I chose the latter. And was glad I’d retained at least one credit card for emergencies such as this.
You see, Leonard and I have had a very long relationship. His poetry and music have been a large portion of the sound-track to my life. I had to go. It was ludicrous to think otherwise.
I set off for Dallas as soon as my class ended on Friday. I did, indeed, book a hotel room at a nearby “Studio 6″ and, in spite of a minor slow up in rush hour traffic, checked in with plenty of time to get to the Nokia Theatre a mile away.
Arriving about thirty minutes early, I paid the hefty $15 for parking and joined a light stream of people moving toward the venue. I’d printed my ticket at home which presented no problem at the door. It was electronically scanned and I was directed where to go to find my seat.
The orchestra was only about a quarter full, my row completely empty, when I took my seat. The stage was back lit with soft pinks, blues and purples through floor to grid lengths of fabric.
Upstage center a large projection peeked through – a later online search confirmed my suspicion that it was of Cohen’s own art: The End of the Day.
The stage was set with equipment and instruments, a couple of technicians and roadies doing what technicians and roadies do. The auditorium was slow to fill and I wondered if I’d be so lucky to have empty seats in front of me. I wasn’t – but it didn’t matter. I had a relatively clear view and was compensated with empty seats on either side of me for the first half. Flanking both sides of the stage were large video screens. A sign of modern times.
Close to curtain time, the auditorium filled – few empty seats. The audience at last in, a cheer rose up when the band and backup took stage, then a roar and we were on our feet when Mr. Cohen took the stage.
Clad in a dark grey suit, grey silk shirt, bolo tie and his iconic fedora, a slight stoop to his stance was the only betrayal to his seventy-four years of age. He took hold of the microphone like the cheek of a lover, knelt to the ground and eased into “Dance Me to the End of Love.” His rich resonating bass voice invited each of us in to share a deeply personal few hours of our time.
It’s no accident that Cohen has become the legend that he is. He has the gift of artistisc genius that enables him to refract his life through a prism of experience that makes it relatable and relevant to our own. And through it all – there was a twinkle in his eye. A reminder not to take it all too seriously.
Under the musical direction of Austin bassist Roscoe Beck, the band gave each song it’s signature sound augmented with new layers by Spanish guitarist Javier Mas, Neil Larson on keyboard (including a Hammond B3 organ with Leslie), saxophonist Dino Soldo, percussionist Rafael Gayol, and long-time collaborator guitarist Bob Metzger.
The gentle and almost ephemeral backup vocals were rendered by a trio comprised of Hattie and Charley Webb – (the Webb Sisters of the UK) who were exquisite on “If It Be Your Will” and Sharon Robinson – Cohen’s co-writer and soloist for “Boogie Street.”
There were several times I was moved to tears. Particularly poignant was Leonard’s recitation of “A Thousand Kisses Deep.” I looked up at the video screen to witness a tight close-up on his face. Toward the end of the poem, there was a glistening of tears in his eyes…
For three hours he took us on his journey – skipping on and off the stage to several encores and standing ovations. At last the band set down their instruments, came forward with the singers and Leonard and were joined onstage by the road-crew – all duly chappeaued. Cohen thanked everybody – everybody – from wardrobe to the hall tuners – for their work and contribution, his affection and respect for all clearly evident.
He closed by saying “I hope you’re surrounded by friends and family,” and then added… because he knew …”but if that’s not the way it is, may blessings find you in your solitude.”
Thank you, Mr. Cohen, for a night I will long remember.