Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Visit From St. Leonard

....otherwise known as Leonard Cohen, whose visit I was looking forward to so much more than that of the other guy whose last name begins with the letter "C".  Revered Canadian poet and singer Leonard Cohen, who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008, is blessed with a marvelous baritone voice and a large repertoire of rather bleak songs that combine the religious and the sexual. Backed by a stellar group of musicians and backup singers, he entertained his London fans for over three hours with songs from recent albums, and old favourites like "Chelsea Hotel", "Suzanne", "Hallelujah" and "Bird on the Wire" -  it was a Leonard lovefest all around.

Sadly, I was sitting rather far from the stage, and as I don't have a gigantic lens for my camera, I had to settle for the least blurry shots I could capture.

 Thank God for Jumbotrons

Mr. Cohen had stopped touring back in 1993, and then his life took a very unfortunate turn in 2004 when his longtime business manager absconded with Cohen's life savings while he was at a Zen Buddhist monastery.   He was forced to go back on the road in 2008, at age 74, in order to pay his bills.  What was a devastating situation for him turned out to be a bonus for his fans, as he has been playing packed venues for the past 4 years, presenting a show that would be an endurance test for a performer half his age. 

The years in the Monastery obviously kept him flexible, as he alternated between standing and kneeling, and there was never any sign of a struggle getting from one position to the other. 

His concerts are precisely choreographed, from the backup singer's movements to the between-song patter, so there are no surprises, but that also means no disappointments either.   My personal highlight of the night was when he recited his poem from 1998, "A Thousand Kisses Deep".

I loved you when you opened 
like a lily to the heat
I'm just another snowman
Standing in the rain and sleet,
Who loved you with his frozen love
His second-hand physique
With all he is, and all he was
A thousand kisses deep 

Cohen is extremely generous in his praise to the members of his band, whom he introduced twice during the evening and several times doffed his hat to them.  They are a multi-cultural mix of some of the most talent musicians that a singer could wish for, including acoustic flamenco style guitarist Javier Mas, violinist Alexandru Bublitchi,  Hammond player Neil Larsen, and electric guitarist Mitch Watkins, pictured above.

Cohen has a wonderful trio of backup singers who accompany him for all his tours.  The two women on the left are the fabulous Webb Sisters, Hattie and Charlie, and Cohen's longtime collaborator, Sharon Robinson, far right, who sang a solo during the evening.

When Cohen, playing guitar, sang his classic, "Suzanne" in front of a gigantic silhouette of himself, the floor was lit by a host of LED screens of cell phones raised to capture the moment.  You know you're old when you can remember when people use to do this with cigarette lighters.

One of the highlights of my trip to New York last year was stopping by the Chelsea Hotel and seeing the plaque that had been erected in recognition of Leonard Cohen's 75th birthday.

And finally, what I wore - a hat was necessary, as a tribute to Mr. Cohen, who always wears a suit and a fedora when performing.  A friend who took this photo noted that I was in full "1980's MuchMusic VJ" (think Erica Ehm and Ziggy Lorenc) mode.
polka dot dress - From Mars
black and white checked thigh high stockings - The London Rock Shop
Hat - The Sentimentalist


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  2. You look fantastic Shelley - I love the fab colour/pattern combo - and these pics are GREAT - how amazing that St Leonard is still in such great shape that he can perform like he always has. Whata fabulous night! Sarah xxx

  3. That looks like a wonderful concert and a great evening.
    And of course a hat was in order! Love the spots and checks! xxxx

  4. I love Leonard Cohen, what a fabulous voice he has. Oh I would have loved to been there. You look fab as usual.

  5. Nice work using the Jumbotron. Some of these images of Cohen on stage are real keepers. Congrats! (The Jumbotron may provide the opportunity but you've got to take it --- and you did.)

    1. The only photo I shot off the Jumbotron was the closeup of Mr. Cohen's face; the rest were taken from the stage. I was amazed that any of them were in focus.

  6. Your outfit is fabulous, the hat and the crazy pattern clashing combo are awesome! I saw Leonard Cohen four years ago, he was the headliner at a dance music festival on a wet and drizzly Sunday night, much as I like his records he didn't really blow me away as a live act! x

  7. Shelley, what a great review of an icon's performance. I remember you taking me by the Chelsea Hotel and pointing out the plaque honoring Leonard Cohen. Your outfit is smashing for the event with your creative pattern mixing and your hat with a touch of veil. I'm sure that you turned many a head at this visit by St. Leonard!

  8. What an awesome concert it must have been Leonard Cohen is mazing!
    Love your outfit--you are rockin the dots and that cute hat!

  9. You have outdone yourself, my dear. Love your concert outfit - so wonderfully eclectic, just like its wearer!
    Jean & Valerie

  10. You have outdone yourself, my dear. Love your concert outfit - so wonderfully eclectic, just like its wearer!
    Jean & Valerie

  11. Wow, how gorgeous are you in that? And the post before this too. Those crazy geometrics, those hats... The season seems to suit you. Do they even allow lighters into concert venues anymore? Your photos came out great. I'm catching up!...

  12. Fabulous hat and boots and I love the pattern mix - fantastic outfit!
    Glad to hear it was a transcendent concert experience.

  13. What a sad story about his loss of fortune and the person he probably most trusted in the world. Just awful. I recently heard him on the radio and wondered how he could still sound so darn good after all these years. This is quite a thrill to see him on your blog like this.

    Sure wish I'd been there and done that!
    Idiosyncratic Fashionistas
    not anonymous, but digitally challenged

  15. Great voice, I am going to see him tomorrow in Tampa.. i am a little bit disappointed that he don't sing the original song with its lovely tune in the show. i was waiting to hear it..

  16. Wow! Looks like it was a fun night! I can imagine how great the feeling it gives in hearing and watching the great Lenard Cohen perform!