151 of 153 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Monkey and The Plywood Violin
Last year I saw this tour twice. The first time in the intimate surroundings of the Manchester Opera House. I'd gone half expecting to see an old man go through the motions (I guessed I'd never get the chance again especially as he has not toured for the best part of 15 years). I wrote a review elsewhere (which follows) of the concert which turned out to be the best gig...
Published on 31 Mar 2009 by Dorset Duo
10 of 22 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Far too smooth
Lets get one thing clear-most of these songs are great,especially the earliest ones.But these live versions are so middle of the road,they have none of the desperation of the originals.If you are new to Cohen do yourself a favour and buy his first 3 albums,far superior to this effort.
Published on 18 April 2009 by Don't even like Nirvana
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151 of 153 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Monkey and The Plywood Violin,
Last year I saw this tour twice. The first time in the intimate surroundings of the Manchester Opera House. I'd gone half expecting to see an old man go through the motions (I guessed I'd never get the chance again especially as he has not toured for the best part of 15 years). I wrote a review elsewhere (which follows) of the concert which turned out to be the best gig I've ever attended.
As for the CD. It is a joy. The band are absolutely superb and Cohen's voice 'pours down like honey'. Whilst the sound at the concerts set new standards for live gigs so does the CD for live audio quality. It is brilliantly recorded.
In an age of reality tv stars, cynical reunion tours and ringtone music give yourself a treat, get this CD and listen to a truly great songwriter, a very humble man accompanied by one of the finest bands going. You wont be disappointed. My only personal disappointment is that the setlist does not include 'The Patriot' and 'Chelsea Hotel' which have also been performed on the tour (although there was a legal mp3 of these streamed from the NYC Beacon Theatre Show).
Leonard who? younger friends are probably going to ask.
Cohen was 32 and an established Canadian poet and novelist in the 1960's before taking up song writing. Often described in terms such as "the poet laureate of pessimism", "the grocer of despair", "the godfather of gloom" and "the prince of bummers" his albums were once staple fare of lovelorn students in bedsit land.
Suzanne is one of those songs that sent shivers down my spine when I first heard it as a teenager and it still does now. He once called it "journalism", as the details were drawn from life in Montreal. Suzanne was a friend, Suzanne Verdal, who really did serve him tea and oranges in her loft by the river. Cohen wrote the line "I touched your perfect body with my mind" because she was married to a friend of his. Suzanne is apparently still alive and living in an old camper van in California somewhere.
His return to touring after 15 years or so was brought about because he had apparently been swindled of all his money by his manager whilst he was living in seclusion in a Buddhist monastery.
Cohen came on stage not far of his 74th birthday (in fact we share the same birthday but he is a tad older!) and put on one of the best concerts I've ever seen (and I've seen a few). Seeing him in such a small theatre was perfection.
Surrounded by probably the best musicians I've ever seen assembled on stage in one place he made the rest of the world seem so very average. A special mention must go to the playing of Javier Mas; sublime.
What was particularly striking was how Cohen's voice, never as "golden" as he ironically observed on Tower Of Song, has matured into an instrument that's wholly appropriate for these songs.
The set boasted such songs as The Future, Suzanne, Anthem, So Long Marianne and Hallejulah. And whilst those of you of younger years may know the Jeff Buckley or even Rufus Wainright versions of the later; Cohen wrenched his own song back from the young pretenders. I don't mind admitting that I was close to crying when he delivered a spoken-word version of A Thousand Kisses Deep and the version of If It Be Your Will, sung by two of his backing vocalists the Webb sisters. It was simply an astonishing night.
Even more astonishing was the fact that despite everything the man was so humble; he genuinely looked surprised that people were on their feet before he had sung a note. He thanked us profusely for keeping his music alive after playing a set that lasted over 3 hours with a short interval. Now I've seen Springsteen do that but at a time when many 'stars' can only just give over an hour or so of indifference this was nothing short of amazing from a septuagenarian performing his fourth concert in 4 nights.
So if you've never heard of Cohen take a listen sometime, and if you've dismissed it as music to slit your wrists to give it another listen because really it is truly uplifting, almost spiritual and on Friday's evidence sung by an all time great.
Everybody knows that the dice are loaded
Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed
Everybody knows that the war is over
Everybody knows the good guys lost
Everybody knows the fight was fixed
The poor stay poor, the rich get rich
That's how it goes
55 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I wasn't a fan,
I bought tickets for Leonard Cohen's Lisbon concert as a gift for my wife and just went along to keep her company. I was amazed at the energy and beauty of this concert, it was the most memorable live show I have ever seen. Leonard Cohen isn't just an old man doing his old songs, it still 'works'. When a 70 year-old sings "I have tried, in my way, to be free" it is even more poignant than when he was 35. A real night to remember.
91 of 95 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent Cohen,
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The 02 concert was spoilt only by the distance from the stage, (and by a jerk nearby shouting "Joan of Arc" at every opportunity) but the compensation was the magnificent musical experience offered by Cohen, who reaffirmed just how great a performer and poet/songwriter he is. I saw him at this gig, and again at the Albert Hall (my preferred venue - it seems to have the stately dignity required by an artist of Cohen's stature) and later at Brighton, this time with my 23 year old daughter, who was completely overwhelmed by Cohen. Yet again he demonstrated how comparitively simple musical forms can create works of great profundity, beauty and significance. His musical and lyrical journey through the personal, the political, the spiritual and erotic is one of the wonders of the age. The musical arrangements were beguiling, elegant and subtle, played by a marvellous band lacking only a violin to give plangency and texture in songs such as "Take this Waltz", "Dance Me to the End of Love" and "Gypsy Wife". Otherwise I don't think I have ever heard better versions of these songs, and if this is the last time I see him perform then I shall remain awestruck by the grandeur of his art. If you weren't there, buy it in compensation; if you were, buy it in memory of a great performance. If you've never heard of Cohen before, buy it and experience a height of artistic achievement rarely encountered in "popular" music. And then buy the DVD when it appears.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A VERY SPECIAL AND REWARDING SET INDEED.,
Many years ago CBS records produced a budget priced sampler,it contained artists such as Simon and Garfunkel,Mike Bloomfield and Taj Mahal,all unknown then.Among this treasuse trove was one Leonard Cohen.His one track got me buying the LP(remember them ?).It was stunning,for me the first acoustic troubador,playing,singing and writing such sensitive and wonderful music.Learning many of the songs on it,I played them in various venues for a time.So here we are many years later and the maestro plays the O2 in one of the most touching and wonderful concert sets for many years.The classics are there (yep the ones I played way back) and they sound as fresh as ever.The band throughout are superb.Thers some newer songs,songs I never realised he wrote or sang (including In My Secret Life which Eric Burden covered a couple of years back).This set is as they say a keeper,one that will be played over and over again.This is quite simply timeless music with lyrics we wish we could all write.This is the words and music of his life and he's sharing it with us.What's so great about this release is you drawn in by his stage manner as if your the only one there, that this is an intimate concert he's sharing with each one of us.Time may have moved on from what I heard on that old sampler,but the music is as fresh as ever and an absolute joy to listen to.You know I believe this is a classic live set that will be available for many,many years for millions to go on enjoying.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nobody does it better,
Leonard Cohen fans are used to comments about his music being depressing (just as they tell us Bob Dylan can't sing). Well if you hear anyone saying that tell them to listen to this album. I defy anyone not to be uplifted by it.
You can keep your Jeff Buckley, even on the oft covered Hallelujah its writer shows how it should be done.
I was at this concert and listening to this recording I am taken right back to the night. Whilst I had always thought of Cohen's music as being best suited to a more intimate venue he proved that he can carry it off in the barn that is the O2. In a club he must be mind blowing.
If newcomers to Leonard Cohen want to buy an album that shows the man at his best then this is it. An almost perfect set list performed flawlessly.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Every bit as great as one could have hoped,
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"I was born like this, I had no choice / I was born with the gift of a golden voice", 73-year-old Leonard Cohen sings sarcastically in his cracked, rumbling, ever-deepening bass, and the audience at the O2 arena erupts into deafening applause.
One of the greatest, most intelligent and charismatic songwriters and composers popular music has ever seen, the old Canadian has made one of the finest and probably the most accssible albums of his entire star-studded career with 2008's "Live in London". Some hardcore fans would probably have preferred a few more rarities, but everybody else should be delighted by these two discs, a wonderful document from Leonard Cohen's first, warily undertaken concert tour in almost a decade and a half.
Excellent sound, wonderful organic arrangements which frequently surpass the originals, and warm, precise, even passionate vocals by Mr Cohen makes this a must-have purchase for even the most casual fan. Dense, powerful renditions of almost every must-hear Leonard Cohen-number, from "Suzanne" and "Everybody Knows" to "Hallelujah" and "Dance Me To The End Of Love".
It's a bit of a shame that songs like "Waiting For The Miracle" and "That Don't Make It Junk", which were played during the 2008-2009 tour, aren't included, sure, but there are so many other treasures here that all is forgiven, really.
Newcomers will perhaps be best served by the two-disc compilation "The Essential Leonard Cohen", which was compiled by Cohen himself, but this one would be a pretty great starting point also. And no fan of the great man should be without it, not even the most casual fan. Even if you only know "Bird on a Wire" and "Dance Me to the End of Love", this may very well turn you on to the music of Mr Cohen for real. It is one of the finest CDs in my much too large colletion.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars GREATEST LIVE RECORDING - EVER,
Let us forget, for the moment, that Mr Cohen was close on 74 years old at the time of the recording, or that he was performing songs conceived for a pub sized venue in the massive O2 arena. Quite simply, this is one of the best live performances that has ever been recorded - a true celebration of words and music that sent shivers down my spine. While it may be difficult to improve on the stark original version of "Bird on a Wire", the tracks from the "Various Positions" album, where some of his greatest songs such as "Dance me to the end of Love", "Halleluja" and "If it be your Will" were originally stymied by a cheap computer backing, are now permitted to flourish by a quite exceptional band.
Then there is the man himself, a man of dignity (a rarely used word, these days) humbling himself before his backing band and singers, constantly name-checking them, bowing, exhibiting respect. And while many a self obsessed diva may go through the motions of thanking their audience for attending the concert, Cohen also thanked them for their support through the years, "for keeping my songs alive". And I believe he meant it.
Here is real music, poetry, artistry, integrity, honour; a celebration of life - the antithesis of the bile spewed up by the Lily Allens and Amy Winehouses of this world. I take my hat off to a stately gentleman who can still move a massive audience with his deceptively simple songs of life and love and hate.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful concert presentation with excellent sound quality,
Leonard Cohen is still a magnificent performer, even at 73-years old, and this concert captures that fact. This two-disc cd set was recorded live at the concert in London at the O2 Arena on July 17th, 2008. Sony has done a marvelous job in putting this package together. Both cds are filled to maximum capacity and Amazon's tracklisting above is correct. There are several nice photographs of the event in the included booklet with liner notes by John Aizlewood.
The performance is spectacular on this set and very typical of the level of quality the current world tour has been regularly achieving at various venues. The backing singers and band members are all in top form and Leonard himself sounds in good voice. Sharon Robinson and the Webb sisters provide background vocals, while Roscoe Beck, Neil Larsen, Javier Mas, Bob Metzger, Dino Soldo, and Rafael Bernando Gayol comprise the band. Leonard throws out some light banter at times and probably is too gracious in the regular and profuse compliments he gives out to his supporting players.
On a technical level the recording is very good and sounds better than most live cds. The cds are mastered by Bob Ludwig, a well-known and respected mastering engineer. He did a fine job here as the music shows no signs of overcompression or clipping. The audience is well-behaved and generally can not be heard during the songs, though vigorous applause greets each song and Leonard's sly jokes.
The set captures the live magic of Leonard Cohen's current tour with many fine performances. While not every song on here is the definitive live version, many are great like "Tower Of Song" and "Who By Fire". Anyone with a marginal interest in the music of Leonard Cohen needs to pick up this cd set. It is essential in my estimation as a document of Leonard Cohen's current live performances. Hopefully more dates from this tour will be officially released.
25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A truly unforgettable experience!,
I was lucky enough to be at this very concert in July 2008, and I can truly say it was one of the most magnetic musical experiences I have ever encountered. It was a distillation of a lifetime's work - Cohen performed songs ranging from across his career of over 40 years. Cohen remains peerless as a lyricist, and in spite of the fact that certain songs of his are so often covered (notably Hallelujah), his delivery of them reigns supreme. With the most fantastic band of musicians plus backing vocals from the Webb Sisters and Sharon Robinson, this is not to be missed!
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous tour 2008,
I have been a lifelong Leonard Cohen fan. I saw him at the Jazz festival in Nice and at Brighton last year (virtually identical concert so I assume this is the same). Absolutely astounding...his voice is just wonderful, the band and singers superb and the songs incredibly evocative. I was blown away! Icing on the cake was meeting him the following morning at our hotel in Brighton where the band were staying. I shook his hand and we had an exchange. I was like a child again!
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