Notes and reports from the scene ...

Copyright 2007 Linda Straub Tuesday the 24th of April at Joe’s Pub

Wonderful. Fantastic. Awesome.

We could not have asked for an evening more perfect. Both shows flew by, with impeccable delivery of Blue Alert songs by Anjani and two duets with Leonard. Added treat to hear the dynamite debut of Anjani’s cover of “The Gypsy’s Wife,” and to get a preview of a beautiful soprano, Dominique Plaisant, who will be in the Philip Glass Book of Longing cast.

Format like Europe with humorous introduction by Leonard – which worked in Neal Sedaka (who played the venue earlier in the evening), the Brill building, and spoken lines from Tower of Song. Anjani took stage for seven Blue Alert songs, then Gypsy’s wife, then duet of “Never Got to Love You,” then “Thanks for the Dance,” followed by closing duet of “Whither Thou Goest.” Audience was in total ecstasy. As when we saw Anjani in Montreal, she totally owned the crowd and the room.

Second show was more relaxed, and had a slightly different selection of songs, but contrary to fears and advertising, Leonard played the same role. Both shows had really smooth jazzy feel, aided by the very talented backing band. Most songs were longer than the album, and were ideal for the jazz club live setting.

Copyright 2007 Linda Straub

Photos © 2007 Linda Straub

Similar to the European fan experience, once we mastered the club’s security system, with much assistance from Esther, forum posters were hosted graciously by Anjani and Leonard in their dressing rooms. They signed things, posed with fans, and encouraged everyone to “take your time and stay a while” (though the line of waiting fans was long.) Fully realize now that I could never have done any better choosing an artist to obsess about. The ultimate gentleman, and his gorgeous and warm companion.

I was also pleased to say hello to Hal Willner again, and give a nod to Elvis Costello and Diana Krall at his celebrity table. Hal said Glass had just gone backstage to see Leonard.

For the second show, we commandeered the celebrity table and took Elvis and Diana’s seats. Esther kept the glow going by introducing us to Leon Wieseltier and a friend, and they joined us at our table. Leon is an old friend of Leonard’s. He is literary editor of the New Republic, and the song “Love Itself” is dedicated to him. He wrote the classic “Prince of Bummers” piece in 1993 for the New Yorker. See Marie’s scan on Speaking Cohen.

Thanks for the dance Anjani and Leonard. We love you both.

Dick & Linda Straub

Enjoy a slideshow of memories at Joe's Pub by Linda Straub

Check out other reports and photos of the New York concert on
Brooklyn Vegan

Notes and reports from the scene ...

My girl friend and I drove up from Ottawa last night and had an amazing time at the Montreal show. Anjani's voice was unbelievable live. I've rarely heard singers who sound so good in person.

I am a really big fan of the album and Anjani was fabulous. It was also a wonderful surprise to see her and Leonard sing a couple of songs together. Their voices worked beautifully together. We got back to Ottawa at about 3 am a little tired but it was absolutely worth it.

Kindest regards,

Photo by Leah LazariukOn April 27th Anjani gave a concert at the Juste Pour Rire theater in Montreal. It is a great venue for such a show, with superb sound in an intimate bar setting. She began her show with saying that it was great to be home. To a certain extent Leonard and Anjani make Montreal their home for some of the time they are not traveling. She wasn't shy to speak a bit of french.

Her performance was mostly the songs of Blue Alert and she sang all of them. Included in her performance was The Gypsy's Wife and The Smokey Life as well as the duet with Leonard where they sing Wither Thou Goest I Will Go. Leonard also joined her in singing "Never Got To Love You"

The band that was accompanying her have been with her for a very short time and because of that sometimes you would get the feeling that the timing and the sound levels were not as they should be but it is also apparent that she chose her band wisely and especially with the keyboardist you get the feeling that it is a band that will deliver an added richness and excitement to her show.

Photo by Leah Lazariuk
Photos © 2007 Leah Lazariuk

Like everyone says about her, Anjani is a great singer with a wonderfully smooth controlled voice. In my day I have seen a lot of such singers that have voices that they can showcase to win your respect. There is something more than that with Anjani. What is most striking is her relationship to her audience. In the first song Blue Alert when she gets to the line "you even touch yourself, you're such a flirt" she delivers it with such a touching playful smile that the audience feels drawn in to the feeling of a warm intimate relation with her. She keeps that kind of relationship throughout the show. She talks to her audience, answers their questions and looks deep into the eyes of many as she sings to them. It is like she is covering distance with them.

Photos by Leah Lazariuk After the show my niece, who is also a singer, and myself tried to find ways to communicate to each other what we felt was special about the way that Anjani delivers a song. The words I used was that she not just had a voice that was powerful, smooth and beautiful but it was the kind of power that put devils in chains. Leah felt that Anjani sang in such a way that you felt that she was placing her center of gravity in the in-between, the space between her and her audience. She said that Anjani seemed to have a love for the otherness of her audience as opposed to singers who strive to project a self love.

After the show both Anjani and Leonard were very accessible to whoever wanted to say a few words to them. In telling Anjani that watching her in such an intimate venue was probably an opportunity that might soon disappear as she becomes more well known she indicated that it was up to her and that she will keep on wanting such settings.

It may be the most enjoyable concert I have ever attended.


Anjani : Cohen chanté par un ange

Alain De Repentigny

La Presse

Pour la première fois en 14 ans, Leonard Cohen est monté sur une scène montréalaise, vendredi soir. Non pas celle, immense, du Forum oùil a chanté en 1993, mais plutôt la petite scène du Cabaret Juste pour rire où il est venu chanter avec sa protégée et compagne de vie, Anjani Thomas. Le public qui emplissait le Cabaret s'est évidemment senti privilégié et l'a fait sentir à ce fils de Montréal en l'applaudissant généreusement.

Pourtant, le poète n'a pas volé la vedette à sa bien-aimée, tout au contraire. L'Anjani qui s'est pointée sur scène peu après 20h, entourée d'un tout nouveau groupe de musiciens, était à des années-lumière de la chanteuse timide et hésitante qu'on avait vue au même endroit le 30 juin dernier.

Faut dire que l'an dernier, ce n'était pas un véritable spectacle, mais plutôt ce que, dans le jargon du métier, on appelle un showcase, un spectacle intime devant des gens du milieu, des proches et une poignée de journalistes dans le but de faire connaissance avec un artiste et son nouveau disque.

Vendredi, celle qui chantait déjà avec Cohen à la Place des arts en 1985, était littéralement métamorphosée. Quand, installée derrière son piano électrique, elle s'est lancée dans Blue Alert, le titre de son dernier album, en chuchotant plus qu'en chantant, j'ai craint que la nervosité ne la paralyse. Pas le moins du monde. Pendant presque une heure et demie, Anjani nous a fait la démonstration la plus éloquente qui puisse être de la justesse, la finesse et la beauté de sa voix qui, comme le dit Cohen dans le DVD qui accompagne la récente réédition de Blue Alert, est généreuse justement parce qu'elle ne donne pas dans la pyrotechnie, une voix qui est passée «de la gorge au coeur.»

Anjani a fait le tour de ce très beau dernier album, rendant hommage plus d'une fois à Cohen et à ses textes qu'elle a mis en musique, avant de l'inviter à chanter avec elle Never Got To Love You. Tiré à quatre épingles, Cohen s'est planté en face de la non moins élégante Anjani, la voix rocailleuse et combien émouvante de l'un se mêlant harmonieusement à celle, angélique, de l'autre.

Cohen est revenu au deuxième rappel, pour reprendre avec Anjani Wither Thou Goest, qu'il chantait jadis vers la fin de ses spectacles. Mais le charme avait opéré bien avant qu'il ne se manifeste une première fois. La voix parfaitement maîtrisée d'Anjani avait flotté toute la soirée au-dessus du public recueilli, appuyée en cela par des musiciens admirables de sobriété. La chanteuse faisait remarquer qu'il fallait qu'un batteur ait du talent pour se mettre au service d'une musique aussi douce, elle aurait pu en dire autant du pianiste Mark McMillan et de l'inventif guitariste Steve Gregory, qui colorait habilement ses chansons aux accents tantôt blues, tantôt country, et qui flirtaient même avec la valse. Ces musiciens étonnamment soudés même s'ils ne l'accompagnent que depuis une semaine, se sont même un peu éclatés quand Anjani nous a servi The Gypsy's Wife, le premier de deux emprunts à l'album Recent Songs (1979) de Cohen - l'autre étant The Smokey Life.

Tout au long de sa carrière, Cohen a été chanté magnifiquement par des femmes, de Joan Collins à Jennifer Warnes. Vendredi, Anjani a prouvé que son talent pouvait enrichir les textes du poète, ce qui n'est pas rien.

Si vous l'avez ratée, consolez-vous. Anjani nous reviendra au Festival de jazz juste avant de partir charmer le public européen.

For those who use BitTorrent, you can download the Montreal show here

Notes and reports from the scene ...

Sunday, April 29, Joe’s Pub

They did it again. Anjani, her terrific new band, and Leonard Cohen entranced a packed Joe’s Pub for a third show in six days. I have rarely seen such a unanimously thrilled audience at the end of a concert.

The impact of most women’s beauty is highest on initial meeting, and diminishes some over time. But Anjani’s beauty illustrates the opposite phenomenon. She inexplicably seems sexier and more attractive with each repeated sighting. Her presence is amazingly soft, sultry, sensuous, and sexy, making putty of every man watching her.

Her voice and delivery are the primary appeal; her lovely face and lithe figure just add to the impression. During the audience hush while she is singing her wonderful Blue Alert songs, not even the number 6 train rumbling below the stage could break the spell. Her new band, Mark McMillen - musical director and keyboards, Steve Gregory - guitar, Ron Suffredini - upright bass, Bryan Brock-percussion, along with backup vocalist Dominique Plaisant provide able assistance, but it is Anjani who dominates the moment.

The benefit show before the concert made it difficult for any sound check and delayed the show’s opening. It also resulted in Anjani getting off to two false starts. But she brought us immediately back into her spell with her opening song, “Innermost Door.” She next perfectly crooned “No One After You.” She briefly described the background of the album, joking that she was “probably the oldest new artist around,” and moved into “Blue Alert.” She acknowledged Esther in the audience, sitting with a childhood friend from Montreal, and made everyone feel special by praising how much they liked being in New York.

Linda & Esther
There's beauty everywhere -- Linda, our generous photographer, and Esther, Leonard's sister

She cited the lyric “I Had to go Crazy to Love You” as leading of necessity to the song, and performed “Crazy to Love You” next, followed by band introductions. As she had on Tuesday, her percussionist led into her inspired cover of “The Gypsy’s Wife,” a definite crowd-pleaser. Anjani then sang “Half the Perfect World.” While Madeline Peyroux does a very acceptable interpretation, it can’t compare with hearing the true original live. Anjani did not disappoint. As if we weren’t pumped enough, she then delivered “The Smokey Life.” I was immediately convinced that she was born to cover that wonderful tune from “Recent Songs.” There was an extra thrill, since producer and co-writer on that album, John Lissauer, was in the audience. I believe the Friday Montreal show was the first time the song was added to the repertoire, so we New Yorkers were blessed with premiers of two new covers. I sincerely hope they will both find their way onto albums.

Anjani acknowledged that her live performances are different from the record, and then brought the master on stage to accompany her on “one of Leonard’s favorites,” “Never Got to Love You.” It again brought tears. “Thanks for the Dance” led to standing applause, and she came back to do encores. After accepting roses from Linda and I, and a candle from another fan, she sang “Nightingale.”

A second encore included the now famous Biblical duet, “Whither Thou Goest,” elevating the audience to celestial realms. After wondering if New Yorkers “had no jobs to get to in the morning,” perhaps momentarily forgetting we’re the city that never sleeps, Anjani closed the nearly 90 minute show with her exquisite rendition of “The Mist.”

Forum fans fortunate enough to be in attendance included Geoff and Donna, Ken and Suzanne, Eva, Evelyn, Steve, Karen, Richard McGraw and Zack Oberzan. While a couple of us made brief back stage hellos, security was even tighter than Tuesday. And, while they were warm and welcoming as always, I could imagine how exhausted Leonard and Anjani had to be.

If ever you have an opportunity to attend an Anjani show, do not miss it. The music puts you into an altered state of bliss and acceptance. No matter that they are wry and cynical at times, the lyrics end up being refreshingly uplifting when delivered by Anjani and her talented band. This is flat out unforgettable entertainment.

Oh, and did I mention how sexy Anjani is?

Dick & Linda

Audience members capture some video of the April 29 concert:
Video 1 and Video 2