Concert Review: Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen played a marathon set March 6 at the Save on Foods Memorial Centre

Leonard Cohen played a marathon set at the Save on Foods Memorial Centre March 6.

 

A Reckless Generosity: Leonard Cohen at Save on Foods Memorial Center

After bounding across the stage to start the second set of Wednesday night’s three and a half hour marathon, Leonard Cohen took a moment to reflect upon a peculiar bond he has formed with one of our city’s finest.

“There’s a seagull that comes to my window every time I’m here in Victoria. I know it’s the same seagull– he’s white, with highlights of grey. This morning, I gave him everything I had. I gave him my toast. I gave him my eggs… and in a state of reckless generosity, I gave him my iPad.”

Cohen’s quip speaks to the fervent generosity he so readily bestows upon his growing legion of loyal fans. Cohen has toured relentlessly over the past five years, stopping only to record an album before hitting the road again.

Wednesday night was certainly no exception: Cohen, as ever, was consummately generous. All fortunate enough to attend Cohen’s sold out Save on Food’s Memorial Center were undoubtedly nourished by Cohen’s mesmerizing and captivating presence.

The proceedings began with a fortified rendition of “Dance Me to the End of Love”. The song, culled from 1984’s Various Positions, proved that Cohen is at the very height of his hypnotic powers. With his deep and sonorous voice, Cohen lulled his capacity crowd into a collective trance which lasted for the remainder of the evening: hours passed by like minutes.

Cohen proved equally generous with his band. Not content to simply share the spotlight with each of his nine players, Cohen often left the spotlight entirely, allowing various members of the band to showcase their respective talents. Cohen’s classics were drastically reworked to give sufficient space for extended instrumental breaks.

Vocalist Sharon Robinson, who has toured with Cohen since the late seventies and co-written a number of songs with him, enraptured the audience with her rendition of “Alexandra Leaving” as Cohen stood aside, hat held tightly to his chest in respect.

Much of the set was devoted to material from Cohen’s most recent release, Old Ideas.

New songs such as “Going Home” and “Show Me the Place” stood up well beside more time tested numbers like “So Long, Marianne” and “Hallelujah”, proving Cohen to be every bit as relevant now as he ever was.

 

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