Index of Reviews of Live In London CD and DVD

"Leonard Cohen - Live In London" by Mike Regenstreif, Ottawa Jewish Bulletin (Canada), May 11, 2009.

"Hallelujah, Cohen isn't going quietly" by Michael Barclay, Guelph Mercury (Guelph, Ontario, Canada), May 14, 2009.

"Live in London shows Cohen's energy, strength" by Wilfred Langmaid, The Daily Gleaner (Frederickton, NB, Canada), May 16, 2009.

"DVD captures wit, wordplay of the master lyricist, Cohen" by Ellis Widner, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, May 3, 2009.

"Live In London" by Devin Grant, The Post and Courier (Charleston, SC), April 30, 2009.

"Live In London" by Mark Shikuma, North Coast Journal (Humboldt County, CA), April 30, 2009.

"Leonard Cohen - Live in London" by Joel Elliott, CokeMachineGlow, May 1, 2009.

"Leonard Cohen, "Live in London" (Columbia) [3.5 STARS]" by Jim DeRogatis, Chicago Sun-Times, April 29, 2009.

"DVD Kritik: Live in London von Leonard Cohen" by Andreas Fischer, Monsters and Critics (Germany), March 27, 2009.

"Cohen, nessun pentimento" by G.BR., L' (Italy), March 30, 2009.

"LRECENSIONE/ Live in London, il nuovo album di Leonard Cohen" by Paolo Vites, Il Sussidiario (Italy), March 25, 2009.

"Le vieux sage et le chat de gouttière" by Alain De Repentigny, La Presse (Canada), March 29, 2009.

"Leonard Cohen - Live In London" by Andreas Weist, (Germany), March 27, 2009.

"Novo DVD de Leonard Cohen já está à venda" by Luiz Felipe Carneiro, SRZD (Rio de Janeiro), April 12, 2009.

"Leonard Cohen: suchender, zweifelnder Geist" by Von Ralph Geisenhanslüke, Der Tagesspiegel (Germany), April 17, 2009.

"Leonard Cohen - Live in London" by Peter Hemminger, Fast Forward Weekly (Calgary), April 23, 2009.

"Practice makes perfect" by John Emms, Timmins Daily Press (Ontario), April 23, 2009.

"Leonard Cohen - Back and Better Than Ever" by Nicholas Anderson, The Observer (South Bend, Indiana), April 24, 2009.

"Leonard Cohen - Live In London" by Kerry Doole, Exclaim! (Canada), April 2009.

"New releases from Marianne Faithfull and Leonard Cohen" by Kirk Robertson, Lahontan Valley News (Nevada), April 16, 2009.

"Leonard Cohen, 'Live in London'" by Jeffrey Lee Puckett, Courier-Journal (KY), April 17, 2009.

"Live in London" by Wayne Robins, Billboard, April 25, 2009.

"Recording captures Cohen at top of his game" by Doug Gallant, The Guardian (Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada), April 18, 2009.

"Leonard Cohen's 'Live in London' is simply marvelous" by David Cheal,, April 15, 2009.

"Leonard Cohen: Live In London" by Gordon Sullivan, DVD Verdict, April 15, 2009.

"Live in London (Columbia)" by Casey Bye, ExpressMilwaukee, April 13, 2009.

"Leonard Cohen - Live In London" by Mick Middles, Quietus, April 14, 2009.

"Review: New Music April 14" by Ricardo Baca, The Denver Post, April 14, 2009.

"Music Review: Leonard Cohen - Live In London" by David Bowling, BlogCritics Magazine, April 12, 2009.

"Klobouk dolu pred mší Mistra Leonarda" by Tomáš Turek, Aktuá (Czechoslovakia), April 6, 2009.

"Leonard Cohen 'Live In London'" by Morten Ståle Nilsen, VG Nett (Norway), March 31, 2009.

"Leonard Cohen Live i London" by Harry Amster, Svenska Dagbladet (Sweden), April 3, 2009.

"Leonard Cohen" by Michael Gibb, JoongAng Daily (South Korea), April 13, 2009.

"Leonard Cohen — Live In London" by Adrian Cepeda, Treble, April 7, 2009.

"Cohen, Wonder & co. icone in dvd" by Chiara Meattelli, Il Secolo XIX (Italy), April 7, 2009.

"Leonard Cohen regresa por partida doble", ABC (Spain), March 31, 2009.

"Leonard Cohen - Live in London", Humo (Belgium), April 10, 2009.

"LEONARD COHEN - 'Live In London'" by Giovanni Battista Menzani, PiacenzaSera (Italy), April 11, 2009.

"Leonard Cohen - LIVE IN LONDON" by David Reed, The Advocate and WBRZ News 2 (Baton Rouge, LA), April 10, 2009.

"Cohen's best on Live in London album" by David Reed, Belleville Intelligencer (Ontario, Canada), April 11, 2009.

"Leonard Cohen — Live In London" by Kate Harper, CHARTattack, April 7, 2009.

"Music DVD Review: Leonard Cohen - Leonard Cohen Live In London" by Richard Marcus, Blog Critics, April 8, 2009.

"Album Reviews: Live in London by Leonard Cohen" by Adam McKibbin, Artist Direct, April 8, 2009.

"CD Review: Leonard Cohen, 'Live in London'" by Ken Shane, PopDose, April 8, 2009.

"Leonard Cohen - Live in London" by Adrian Ernesto Cepeda, MOG, April 7, 2009.

"Pop Top: Leonard Cohen delivers tower of song" by David Burger, The Salt Lake Tribune, April 3, 2009.

"ALBUM REVIEW: LEONARD COHEN - LIVE IN LONDON" by John Mulvey, Uncut, April 6, 2009.

"Leonard Cohen - Live in London" by Neal Fersko, Spectrum Culture, April 4, 2009.

"Hallelujah! A stellar live set from Cohen" by Brian McCollum, The Detroit Free Press, April 5, 2009.

"Leonard Cohen - Live in London" by Matthew Cole, Slant Magazine, April 4, 2009.

"Music Review: Leonard Cohen - Live In London [2CD/1DVD]" by Donald Gibson, Blogcritics, April 3, 2009.

"Leonard Cohen: Live in London" by Paul Cole, Sunday Mercury (UK), April 5, 2009.

"Len's having a laugh" by Simon Cosyns, The Sun (UK), March 27, 2009.

"Both Leonard Cohen and Stevie Nicks revisit old classics" by Patrick Ferrucci, New Haven Register (CT), April 3, 2009.

"Live In London - Leonard Cohen" by Mark Deming, All Music, March 31, 2009.

"Leonard Cohen - Live In London" by John Murphy, musicOMH, March 30, 2009.

"Album of the Week: Leonard Cohen" by Bernard Perusse, The Montreal Gazette, April 2, 2009.

"CD REVIEW: Leonard Cohen: Live in London" by Brad Nelson, Insight Magazine (University of Nevada), April 1, 2009.

"Live In London... by Leonard Cohen" by Graham Rockingham, Metro Canada (Vancouver), April 1, 2009.

"CD Reviews: Cohen's London concert bodes well for fans" by Mike Devlin, Times Colonist (British Columbia), April 1, 2009.

"Leonard Cohen releases first live album in eight years" by Jack Burke, The Hawk (Saint Joseph University, PA), April 1, 2009.

"Cohen concert album shows he's still a class act" by Eric Volmers, Calgary Herald, March 31, 2009.

"Capturing the full Cohen experience" by Kim Solez, Edmonton Journal, March 31, 2009.

"Leonard Cohen: Live In London" by Greg Quill, The Star (Toronto), March 31, 2009.

"TOWER OF SONG" by Jonathan Takiff, Philadelphia Daily News, March 31, 2009.

"Leonard Cohen - Live In London" by Adrien Begrand, PopMatters, March 31, 2009.

"Leonard Cohen - Live In London" by Mike Ragogna, Huffington Post, March 30, 2009.

"'Live in London' (Columbia) B: B" by Kevin R. Convey, Boston Herald, March 30, 2009.

"Leonard Cohen: Live in London (CD)" by Dan Cairns, The Sunday Times (UK), March 29, 2009.

"Leonard Cohen: Live in London (DVD)" by Pete Paphides, The Sunday Times (UK), March 28, 2009.

"Halleluja, Halleluhuhuja" by Frank Junghänel, Berliner Zeitung, March 28, 2009.

"Album: Leonard Cohen, Live in London (Columbia)" by Andy Gill, The Independent (UK), March 27, 2009.

"Live in London (2009)" by Jason Adams, Entertainment Weekly, March 25, 2009.

"Dlugo oczekiwana premiera Cohena... na zywo w Londynie!", Radio Laweczka, April 22, 2009.

"Karizmatik s glasom poput samoga boga" by Aleksandar Dragaš, Jutarnji, May 10, 2009.

"Live in London shows Cohen's energy, strength" by Wilfred Langmaid, The Daily Gleaner (Fredericton, NB), May 16, 2009.

"Live in London", Things I Like, May 29, 2009.

"Dance me to the end of, erm, the Greenwich Peninsula" by Terry Staunton, Record Collector, June 2009.

"The Lieder of Leonard" by Pieter Uys, Lit Net (South Africa), June 25, 2009.

"Unbeautiful Winner: Leonard Cohen" by Robert Christgau, Barnes and Noble Review, August 17, 2009.

"43 years of skepticism: Christgau on Cohen" by Carolyn Kellogg, Los Angeles Times, August 18, 2009.

"The Countdown of the Best Albums of 2009" by Mark Harrison, The Times-Journal (DeKalb, IL), January 12, 2010.

"Leonard Cohen - Live in London" by Smart Oss, Album Reviews, February 20, 2010.

"List Inconsequential: Best Live Albums" by David Harris, Spectrum Culture, July 19, 2012.

Leonard Cohen - Live In London

Ottawa Jewish Bulletin (Canada) by Mike Regenstreif, May 11, 2009

Leonard Cohen, the masterful Montreal-born singer-songwriter, will be performing two Ottawa concerts at the National Arts Centre May 25 and 26. Unless you're willing to scalper prices, you can pretty much forget about getting tickets. They sold out, like everywhere else on Cohen's world tour, almost instantly at up to $250 (plus service charges).

The concerts that Cohen will perform in Ottawa will vary little from the concerts that he's given throughout his worldwide tour over the past year. The repertoire, down to each of the planned encores, has been essentially the same as Cohen moves from city to city and from concert halls here to arenas there. That doesn't really matter though. From all reports, and from the evidence of his London, England concert last July 17, it's an amazing, meticulously planned and executed show.

That London concert is now available in both DVD and 2-CD packages. The concert is mesmerising. When I sat down to watch the DVD, I did not get up again until I'd seen every minute of its two-and-a-half hours. I didn't take the intermission that stretches a Cohen concert past three hours in person.

And what, you may ask, kept me glued to the set for 150 minutes? Let's start with the songs. Cohen is one of the greatest songwriters of our age who is known for working endlessly on a song until every line, indeed every word, is perfect. Nothing in a Cohen song is wasted, even in an eight-minute song. And almost every songs clocks in at least five minutes. Only, "Suzanne," an early masterpiece is within the typical length of most pop songs. Cohen is one of those very rare songwriters whose work continues to reveal nuance and deeper levels of understanding, even songs like "Suzanne," or the biblically-inspired "Hallelujah," or the classic "Bird on a Wire" which I've heard countless times over many decades.

Then there is Cohen himself. At 74, he is singing with such obvious commitment to both himself and his audience. And there seems to be some kind of wisdom-with-age dynamic that Cohen brings to the interpretation of each of these songs whether they were written recently, 20 years ago in middle age or 40 years ago as a relatively young man.

Finally, there is the quality of the nine world class musicians and singers who Cohen surrounds himself with on stage and uses to bring the great songs to life. The arrangements are highly creative. While I particularly appreciate the work of Javier Mas, a Spanish master of the guitar and a variety of exotic stringed instruments, and harmony vocalists Sharon Robinson, and sisters Charley and Hattie Webb, each of the other musicians is excellent.

Hallelujah, Cohen isn't going quietly

Guelph Mercury (Guelph, Ontario, Canada) by Michael Barclay, May 14, 2009

Leonard Cohen Live in London (Sony)

"What a great honour to play for you," intones the immortal baritone of Leonard Cohen at the beginning of this two-disc, 150-minute document of his 2008 world tour. Here is a 73-year-old man who, despite decades of success and reverential acclaim, remains remarkably modest, deferential to every one of his bandmates, and grateful for every moment on stage. And yet the honour is all ours.

I'll be frank: I wept continuously when I saw this tour's Toronto stop. I wept with tears of joy to hear the author of such magnificent prose sound so alive and appreciated, wept with tears of sadness knowing that he won't be doing this for much longer and it's hard to imagine anyone taking his place. Live in London is a perfect souvenir, and a helpful reminder that no, I wasn't just drunk on the emotion of the moment.

Cohen is crooning with conviction and strength; even his detractors will have to admit that he's singing in tune. The band is impeccable and tasteful; anyone put off by Cohen's questionable studio choices discover that these songs sound better than they ever have, even schmaltz like Ain't No Cure For Love. Perhaps most importantly, he finally reclaims Hallelujah for himself, after 25 years of his original version perplexing even the most rapturous fans of the song's many cover versions.

It's impossible to express just how cathartic it was, in the summer of 2008, to hear Cohen sing about how "democracy is coming to the U.S.A." It's a song that sounded quaint and funny when it was first released in 1992, but such a song can only achieve true resonance after one's spirit has been bruised and battered and been forced to seek light through the smallest of cracks; suddenly, when given a glimpse of sunshine and the possibility of freedom, Cohen sounds like the first man to tell you the truth after (eight) years of lies.

He's not always that heavy, of course -- in fact, he's often hilarious. All his best banter -- which was routine at every tour stop -- is included here, which hardly seems fair to those who have yet to witness the ongoing tour. Live in London is more than a document of Cohen's comeback; it may well be --objectively speaking, outside the context and time when his earlier classics were released -- the finest recording of his 40-year career.

Live in London shows Cohen's energy, strength

The Daily Gleaner (Frederickton, NB, Canada) by Wilfred Langmaid, May 16, 2009

It was just over one year ago - May 11, 2008 - that Leonard Cohen began his first tour in a decade and a half right here in Fredericton. That show was a triumph, and it was a harbinger of a world tour that is still going strong and getting rave reviews across the board.

The tour now has a beautiful document for posterity - a release of a show last summer in London available either in two-CD or one-DVD format.

We saw the template here in Fredericton - 20 songs - and this set follows the same structure in a slightly fleshed out 25-song set from July 17.

Both shows revealed the same thing. There is no one like Cohen and, sad though it is to say, it is our good fortune that he got fleeced out of his savings by his former manager earlier this decade. Coming out of retirement with an ace band, he skitters with unique grace across his career.

The Live In London concert is heavy on his material from three consecutive albums -1984's Various Positions, 1988's I'm Your Man, and 1992's The Future. It is fleshed out with career-launching tracks from the 1960s and a sprinkling of songs from his four albums of the 1970s and from his 2001 album Ten New Songs.

The energy and strength of Cohen was really the Fredericton concert's most pleasant surprise. He was in fine voice all night long, and his enthusiasm never flagged. That has been the hallmark of the entire tour, and it can be just as emphatically stated for the Live In London document.

His reputation for dour joylessness is, meanwhile, eschewed with his charming and witty between-song banter, and by the way he carries himself visually on the DVD.

Roscoe Beck (bass and vocals, music director), Neil Larsen (keyboard, accordion, brass instruments), Bob Metzger (guitar, steel guitar, vocals), Javier Mas (acoustic guitar, oud and string instruments), Rafael Gayol (drums and percussion) and Dino Soldo (keyboard, saxophone, wind instruments, vocals) are all master musicians who deliver nary a wasted note.

Mas, Larsen, and Beck are the bedrock musicians in the team. Mas' skills with banduria, laud, archilaud, and 12-string guitar are intense beyond description, most notably on a late first set version of 1974's Who By Fire and an early second set version of 1979's The Gypsy's Wife.

Beck's arrangements are sometimes jarringly inventive - such as the move of So Long Marianne from his 1967 debut album Songs Of Leonard Cohen from 3/4 time to a 4/4 with some cadence shifts - but everything works like a charm.

Meanwhile, the Hammond B3 work of Larsen on some songs is both key and a welcome lift to the synth heavy template of Cohen's post 70s studio work presented live. There are lots of examples, but Anthem from The Future and the now ubiquitous Hallelujah from Various Positions particularly stand out.

Of the three backing vocalists, the shining star is Sharon Robinson. She has sung with him off and on through the years, and was co-credited with him on Ten New Songs.

Live In London is a perfect document of a triumphant reunion - and a great memory bringer to those of who were part of that blessed throng here at The Playhouse just one year ago.

Fredericton-based freelance writer Wilfred Langmaid has reviewed albums in The Daily Gleaner since 1981, and is a past judge for both the Junos and the East Coast Music Awards. His column appears each Saturday.

DVD captures wit, wordplay of the master lyricist, Cohen

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette by Ellis Widner, May 3, 2009

A case could be made that Leonard Cohen is the greatest lyricist of the rock era.

First published as a poet in 1956, Cohen writes songs typified by skillful wordplay, incisive metaphors and intelligence. Whether the subject is romance ("Suzanne") or political/social commentary ("The Future") or both ("Everybody Knows"), he is often acerbic and can be quite droll, especially in concert.

Which brings us to Live in London (Columbia DVD, $24.99; also on CD). Cohen is warm and engaging in this performance at the 20,000 seat O2 Arena on July 18, 2008. At age 73, his return to the concert stage was sparked by a former business manager who depleted his assets while Cohen was in a Buddhist monastery for five years. Cohen had to go back to work, just as many retirees have had to do in this period of economic decline.

Though "born with a golden voice" ("Tower of Song"), Cohen's tone is darker and more weathered since his last tour in the mid-1990s. He is playful and funny, clearly appreciative of the audience's adulation. He gives a passionate performance of depth and emotional/spiritual resonance, sharing the audience's rapturous response with frequent acknowledgment of the talented musicians and singers accompanying him.

Especially impressive are Javier Mas, a breathtaking 12-string guitar and banduria player, and singers Sharon Robinson (introduced as "my collaborator") and Charley and Hattie Webb (rightfully described as "sublime").

"Dance Me to the End of Love," which Cohen has said was inspired by a Holocaust photo he saw as a child, is almost unbearably lovely. The wonderful and funny "Closing Time," the tender "Suzanne" and a moving recitation of "A Thousand Kisses Deep" are high points. Few can touch Cohen when it comes to writing about the human struggle of the sacred and profane (or carnal) in a song, including what may be his greatest, the magnificent "Hallelujah."

While the performance is exceptional, it also is clear the budget must have been small. Camera angles and shots are unimaginative and repetitive. But in the bonus material, all the lyrics are presented with a link to play that particular song.

Live in London makes it clear that, like great literature, Cohen's songs continue to reveal depths and layers of meaning that invite further engagement with our mind and spirit.

Live In London

The Post and Courier (Charleston, SC) by Devin Grant, April 30, 2009

It has been 15 years since Leonard Cohen last toured. And in that time, the songwriter and poet has continued to release original work, sued his former manager, and spent several years as a practicing Buddhist monk in a monastery.

When Cohen made the decision to return to the stage last year, most of the shows sold out within minutes, prompting the tour to be extended into 2009.

"Live in London" captures Cohen's performance at the cavernous O2 Arena. While one might think that a venue as massive as O2 might take away from the intimate feeling conveyed by many of Cohen's recordings, once you hear the beauty of the singer's now 73-year-old voice, it is as if he is singing only to you.

On the two CDs that contain the performance, Cohen runs through 26 songs from throughout his career, including "Bird on a Wire," "Everybody Knows," "I'm Your Man," and "First We Take Manhattan." Cohen's performance of "Hallelujah" is particularly sublime. At 74 years of age, Cohen is still at the top of his game, still able to give the listener goose bumps. God bless him.

Live In London

North Coast Journal (Humboldt County, CA) by Mark Shikuma, April 30, 2009

Leonard Cohen has the ability to articulate the loneliness of the heart, even if situated in the center of urban bustle. Longing and sadness linger, as if his voice is articulating some form of beauty coming to its end. Having published three books of poetry and a novel before the release of his debut record in 1967, Cohen has, over the course of more than 40 years, proven he is a master bard, songwriter and singer.

Due to the embezzling of funds by his former manager while Cohen spent six years at a Zen retreat, Cohen's finances have forced him to return to touring (he is currently on his first U.S. tour in 15 years). Recorded from a 2008 performance, Live in London is a document of Cohen's power as a performer of his songs, with vibrancy and poignancy. His low, nearly conversational delivery has now aged, reaching a new weathered plateau, like Johnny Cash. This performance contains a similar comfortable, affable connection between performer and audience, as Cash exemplified in his prison concert recordings. With his wry humor intact, Cohen says to the stadium-sized audience, "It's wonderful to be gathered here on just the other side of intimacy," as a sly introduction to "The Future." However, by the end of this two-disc performance, he has successfully gathered his audience back to the "side of intimacy." And he seems to do so with a gentle ease, from a voice that elicits trust.

The excellent band assembled for the recording contains a number of Cohen alumni, including musical director and bassist, Roscoe Beck (who also produced Cohen's 1988 release I'm Your Man), guitarist/pedal steel player Brian Metzger and vocalist Sharon Robinson. Veteran keyboardist Neil Larsen, who appeared with George Harrison's Dark Horse band and on numerous Rickie Lee Jones albums, subtly exhibits his keyboard skills, from the soulful "Bird on the Wire" to the minimalist rendition of "If It Be Your Will." The Spanish musician Javier Mas' exquisite playing of the barnduria, laud, archilaud and the 12-string guitar gives the folk-based originals, such as "Who By the Fire" and "Suzanne," a Middle Eastern, Balkan and Mediterranean edge.

After engineering three months of rehearsals and a warm-up tour of smaller concerts throughout Canada, Live in London captures Leonard Cohen, the master bard, in perhaps his most comfortable space as a performer, allowing the brilliance of his words and song to transcend an audience, even one with 20,000 fans. "So ring the bells ring that still can ring," Cohen recites, prefacing the lines of "Anthem." "Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in."

Leonard Cohen - Live in London

CokeMachineGlow by Joel Elliott, May 1, 2009

Rating: 71%
Combined Rating: 77%

For starters, rather than listening to the CD you should just go out and buy the DVD. The 74-year old grins throughout like a child, constantly taking his hat off and bowing like a beggar being offered a hot meal and a place to sleep. "It's wonderful to be gathered here on just the other side of intimacy," he opens, as if this was just the warm-up for the after-show. You get the feeling Cohen could fade completely into oblivion tomorrow and he'd die happy; a recent Globe and Mail profile described him as a Canadian icon who "dances in our heads mostly unseen, like a beautiful idea." And this humble opening comes just before "The Future," a song of immeasurable cruelty. It's just the first of numerous contradictions that the live document spanning four decades of music musters up.

Sometimes the humility can be overwhelming. Cohen's constantly calling out the names of his soloists, even after he's introduced them five times. Maybe he's trying to give them as much publicity as possible (it worked, I hardly have to consult a one-sheet now) but its effect is to constantly rob the listener of whatever immersion the music could offer on its own and draw too much attention to their status as "session musicians." A similar awkwardness is found in Cohen's occasional reciting of lyrics from a song before he sings it. If you're a fan you're probably aware of this tendency to over-interpret every single tic and gesture he makes. Remember those old NFB docs from before Cohen had even started making music, where in one scene a panel of intimidating literary critics grilled him on his philosophy and in the next he's in the bath and sleeping? Even then, he was central to our country's longing for a kind of kitchen-table warmth, for someone who practices real life with sagacity.

But the reason why a live set comprising his entire career is daunting is the discrepancy between his older and newer material. While many folk singers who started out in the '60s wound up awkwardly embracing synthesizers and modern production in the '80s, Cohen embraced it completely and semi-ironically on I'm Your Man (1988), an album which can be found almost in its entirety strewn throughout this two-disc set. The approach didn't work for most folkies, who thought they could just give their usual songs a different backing, but it worked at least partially for Cohen, who entered the second phase of his career with apocalyptic songs that seemed to comment on the technology itself. It also worked because his lyrics have always had a way of transcending the music behind them, and even the karaoke arrangements can sometimes be forgiven when they back such beautiful songs (at the beginning of "Tower of Song" he wryly refers to the synthesizer: "it goes by itself"). But that doesn't mean that a masterpiece like Songs of Love and Hate (1971) doesn't stand out chiefly because it mixes his most harrowing and dense lyrics with tortured vocals and orchestral arrangements. This is what has really been missing in the last few decades: the music is still occasionally dark, often tender and beautiful, and sometimes hilarious, but it rarely captures that emotional core. Sadly, there's no songs from that album on here, not even "Famous Blue Raincoat."

But perhaps I should get to what is. Cohen manages to find the happy (and probably most obvious) middle ground between his spare origins and the sheen of his later work with light, jazzy instrumentation, with the songs stretched out to allow for several solos and interludes. It's not really as bad as it sounds: Javier Mas' work on the archilaud (like a classical 12-string guitar crossed with a lute) and Dino Soldo's various wind instruments add a lot of diversity and even highlight the sometimes understated quality of Cohen's songwriting, particularly on "Who By Fire." The band is also wise enough to back off on "Suzanne," which somehow manages to be just as euphoric as the original, yet that much more enthralling coming from Cohen's increasingly cracked voice. And I've already expounded on the virtues of the brilliant seven-minute version of "Hallelujah."

Apart from these, most of the material is presented as you might expect it to be. Most of the selections from I'm Your Man benefit from their arrangements, in particular "Tower of Song" and "Take this Waltz." Perhaps because these songs are the only overlap between his brilliant songwriting (rather than just beautiful lyrics as on his most recent work) and his more contemporary production, and so are fitting for a warmer re-arrangement—except for "Ain't No Cure for Love," which I always suspected was a really dark joke coming before the AIDS-crisis doomsday romance of "Everybody Knows" on the album. Here the two tracks are separated by an almost unrecognizable "Bird on the Wire," so whatever.

Despite the arguable quality of some of the songs, there's no accounting for how incredible it is to watch Cohen still performing. He's far from irrelevant even now; Book of Longing (2006) is one of his strongest poetry collections, including some startling and immediate self-portraits that have inadvertently launched his side-career as visual artist in his septuagenarian years. To say that Cohen's a shadow of his former self, well, he'd probably take it as a compliment.

Leonard Cohen, "Live in London" (Columbia) [3.5 STARS]

Chicago Sun-Times by Jim DeRogatis, April 29, 2009

Like Bob Dylan, 74-year-old Leonard Cohen is a musical treasure, the author of some of the most poetic and beautiful songs of the last half-century, and one of the most distinctive voices America has ever produced. Yet Cohen's catalog of studio albums not only is far less substantial than Dylan's--there are only 11 to his credit between 1967 and 2004--but it also is much less rewarding, often suffering from fussy overproduction completely at odds with the artist's humble monotone rumble of a voice.

Enjoying a (very) late-career resurgence driven in equal parts by a mountain of debut racked up by an unscrupulous manager and his discovery by a new generation of fans celebrating his work via a flood of covers--from Jeff Buckley's signature version of "Hallelujah" to the two renditions of that song by John Cale and Rufus Wainwright that appeared on the soundtrack to "Shrek"--Cohen has made an unexpected but very welcome return to the stage, and this double album chronicles a performance with a big but only occasionally intrusive band at the O2 Arena in London last July.

With gorgeous versions of all of his most well-known songs--"Hallelujah," "Bird on the Wire," "Suzanne" and nearly two dozen more--"Live in London" serves as a much better introduction to Cohen than any one of his studio albums, and an ideal overview of his amazing artistry. Leonard Cohen performs at the Chicago Theatre on Tuesday and Wednesday [May5-6].


DVD Kritik: Live in London von Leonard Cohen

Monsters and Critics (Germany) by Andreas Fischer, March 27, 2009

'Leonard Cohen - Live in London' bezeugt das epochale Bühnencomeback des Kanadiers mit der goldenen Stimme.

Tänzeln, hüpfen, verschmitzt lächeln - er ist jung geblieben, vielleicht sogar jünger geworden, dieser Leonard Cohen. 73 Jahre war der aus Montreal stammende Kanadier alt, als er Europa im vergangenen Jahr einen ewigen Sommer bescherte. Cohens erste Tournee seit 15 Jahren war, glaubt man Augen- und Ohrenzeugen, der Höhepunkt jeder Konzertbiografie. Wer Cohen 2008 live sah, wird alles, was war, und alles, was kommt, relativieren. Diese Konzerte waren Epen - dramatisch, fesselnd, immerwährend. Die erstklassige DVD 'Leonard Cohen - Live in London' ist digitaler Zeuge eines schlicht als monumental zu bezeichnenden Ereignisses.

Das Publikum an diesem 17. Juli 2008 in der O2 Arena London ist enthusiastisch. Von Beginn an. Und Cohen betritt die Bühne nicht, er stürmt sie, federnden Schrittes, seine Energie steckt an. Dabei ist der Sänger, Poet und Dichter keineswegs ein Vulkan, der ausbrechen muss. Der Mann genieβt sich ganz einfach, die Musik, die Menschen vor ihm. Und er gibt dem ausgehungerten Publikum schon im Opener 'Dance Me To The End Of Love', wonach es lechzt(e): als Song verkleidete pure Erotik. Und die Zeit der Entbehrungen ist vorbei.

Natürlich sind Cohens Klassiker das Gerüst seines Mega-Sets. 'Bird On The Wire', 'Suzanne', Who By Fire', 'Hallelujah', 'So long, Marianne', 'First We Take Manhattan' - Cohen interpretiert sie in XL-Version mit einer Stimme, die im Laufe der Jahre noch schwerer, noch dunkler, noch samtiger geworden ist; arrangiert mit einem herrlichen Schuss Pathos aus Saxofon und Background-Vocals. Cohen ist der Gröβte an diesem Abend, ein glänzender Unterhalter zudem, der mit beiläufigen Anekdoten mit seinem Image kokettiert. Er habe sich in der Pause mit seinem 102-jährigen Lehrer getroffen: 'He said: Excuse me for not dying. I kind of feel the same.'

Das hat Charme, das ist unwiderstehlich. Und Cohen weiβ das. 'Ain't No Cure for Love' - Widerstand ist zwecklos bei diesem Mann. Sogar in die seichten Gefilde seiner letzten beiden Alben 'Ten New Songs' und 'Dear Heather' folgt man dem Auferstandenen willig. An diesem Abend darf's aber auch mal dahinplätschern zwischen all den Höhepunkten, zu denen 'Tower of Song' gehört: 'I was born like this, I had no choice - I was born with a golden voice'. Dem gibt es fast nichts hinzuzufügen. Amen.

'I Tried To Leave You' singt der 'Ladies Man' nach zweieinhalb Stunden - eine programmatische Ansage zum Schluss, die einen Versuch benennt und das Scheitern desselben impliziert. Denn so wenig wie sich Cohen an diesem Abend (wie an allen anderen der 2008er-Tournee) von seinem Publikum trennen kann, so wenig wird das andersrum gelingen. Seine Jünger werden ihm auch im Sommer in die gröβtmöglichen Hallen folgen: Cohen beehrt dann die Kölner Lanxess-Arena (1. Juli) und die Berliner O2-World (2. Juli).

Cohens Wärme, sein Gespür für das Publikum, die auβergewöhnliche Bühnenpräsenz und natürlich seine Songs schaffen eine magische Atmosphäre. Und die Produzenten haben es geschafft, diesen Abend in seiner ganzen Gröβe festzuhalten: 'Leonard Cohen - Live in London' ist sowohl vom Ton, als auch von Kameraführung und Schnitt her eine Referenz. Der exzellente Klang bringt sowohl in der räumlichen 5.1-Variante als auch im simplen, aber knackigen PCM-Stereo jedes Instrument, die Lead- und Backing Vocals präzise zur Geltung, es gibt keinerlei störende übersteuerung. Scharfe und kontrastreiche, mit ruhiger Kamera gefilmte Bilder wurden unaufgeregt aneinandergereiht.

DVD Review: Live in London by Leonard Cohen - A single Hallelujah

Monsters and Critics (Germany) by Andreas Fischer, March 27, 2009

'Leonard Cohen - Live in London' epochal stage witnessed the comeback of the Canadian with the golden voice.

Tänzeln, hopping, mischievous smile - he is still young, maybe even become younger, this Leonard Cohen. 73 years was the Montreal-born Canadians old when he was in Europe last year brought an eternal summer. Cohen's first tour in 15 years, it is believed eye and ear witnesses, the highlight of any concert biography. Anyone who saw Cohen Live 2008, is everything, and everything that comes into context. These concerts were epics - a dramatic, captivating, eternally. The first DVD 'Leonard Cohen - Live in London' is witnessing a digital simply be described as a monumental event.

The audience at It is the 17th July 2008 at the O2 Arena London is enthusiastic. From the very beginning. And Cohen does not enter the stage, he stormed it, springing step, its energy is catching. It is the singer, poet and writer in no way a volcano erupt in need. The man enjoys quite simply, the music, the people before him. And he gives the audience starved in the opener 'Dance Me To The End Of Love', whereby it lechzt (s): Song disguised as pure eroticism. And the period of deprivation is over.

Of course, Cohen's classic the skeleton of his mega-sets. 'Bird On The Wire', 'Suzanne', Who By Fire ',' Hallelujah ',' So long, Marianne ',' First We Take Manhattan '- Cohen interprets them in XL version with a voice that over the years even harder, even darker, more velvety become, arranged with a beautiful shot from pathos saxophone and background vocals. Cohen is the largest in this evening, also a brilliant entertainer, with incidental anecdotes flirts with his image. He was in the break with its 102-year-old teacher made: 'He said: Excuse me for not dying. I kind of feel the same."

It has charm, it's irresistible. And Cohen knows that 'Is not No Cure for Love' - resistance is futile at this man, even in the lush pastures of his last two albums' Ten New Songs' and 'Dear Heather' follow the Risen willingly. At this evening's must also dahinplätschern times between all the highlights, including "Tower of Song 'is one:' I was born like this, I had no choice - I was born with a golden voice '. Which there is almost nothing to add. Amen.

'I Tried To Leave You' sings the 'Ladies Man' after two and a half hours - a programmatic announcement concludes an attempt to designate and the failure of that implies. For as little as Cohen this evening (as in all others the 2008 tour) separated from his audience, so little is the other way to succeed. His disciples to be him in the summer in the greatest halls follow: Cohen then presents the Cologne Lanxess Arena (1 July) and Berlin's O2 World (July 2).

Cohen's warmth, his sense for the audience, his extraordinary stage presence, and of course his songs create a magical atmosphere. And the producers have done it this evening in its full size noted: 'Leonard Cohen - Live in London' is available from the clay, as well as camera work and cutting her a reference. The sound is excellent, both in the spatial version 5.1-as well as in the simple but crisp PCM stereo each instrument, the lead and backing vocals for the precise scope, there are no annoying clipping. Sharp contrasts and rich, with a steady camera filmed images were strung together unaufgeregt.


Cohen, nessun pentimento

L' (Italy), by G.BR., March 30, 2009


Tra amore e religione, il cantautore canadese ritorna con un disco dal vivo

«Quando mi dicono: pentiti/ Mi domando cosa vogliano dire». Comprensibile lo stupore di Leonard Cohen mentre canta «The future»: di cosa mai dovrebbe rammaricarsi questo artista canadese arrivato a superare i 70 anni e capace ancora di eseguire in maniera eccellente il suo repertorio dal vivo?

Di questa vitalità e della modernità delle sue composizioni, è testimone il dvd e doppio cd «Live in London». Le registrazioni sono tratte dal concerto che Cohen ha tenuto con la sua band alla 02 Arena di Londra, lo scorso 17 luglio. Per il cantautore e romanziere canadese si è trattato di un ritorno, visto che mancava dal palcoscenico da almeno 15 anni.

«Siamo onorati di suonare per voi stanotte», confessa Cohen al pubblico londinese, prima di ammettere che sono passati diversi anni dall'ultima volta che si è esibito dal vivo nella capitale inglese. «Era il 1994 - scherza lui - ed ero solo un ragazzino di 60 anni con un sogno folle».

Il ritorno del grande Leonard all'attività concertistica è stato accolto lo scorso anno con entusiasmo: le cifre parlano di 700.000 biglietti venduti per gli 84 concerti del tour.

«Live in London» funziona anche come greatest hits, visto che ripercorre tutta la carriera di un artista non solo benedetto dal dono di una voce cupa, profonda e calda ma anche acuto autore di liriche entrate nella storia della musica leggera. Tra amore sacro e amore profano, tra le delizie della carne («I'm your man», «Ain't no cure for love») e la passione per le Scritture («Hallelujah», «Whither thou goest»), Cohen soprattutto in concerto, accompagnato da un coro femminile, mette in scena la dicotomia - ascesi e godimento - presente nella sua scrittura, forse l'elemento che dà modernità alla sua arte.

Ogni nuova generazione, dagli anni '60 in poi, riscopre il proprio Cohen ma il cantautore/ performer che forse meglio ne ha capito le spinte opposte e le contraddizioni lancinanti è stato Jeff Buckley. Cosî possiamo dire che, se oggi il grande saggio Leonard è ascoltato anche dai ventenni, lo si deve alla versione celestiale di «Hallelujah» che ne diede Jeff nel suo primo e ultimo album realizzato in vita, «Grace». Questo brano, cantato dal suo autore nel secondo cd di «Live in London», rimane un capolavoro senza tempo, tanto che è rientrato in vetta alle classifiche inglesi nel marzo del 2008, riscoperto dal reality «American idol», e poi ripreso nella colonna sonora della serie americana per teenager «One tree hill».

Lo scorso Natale c'erano 3 versioni del brano nella top 40 inglese: quella della vincitrice di «X Factor» versione britannica, quella di Buckley e poi quella di Cohen stesso. Che il suo fascino, anche vocale, sia rimasto immutato lo dice anche il calendario dei prossimi concerti: il 17 aprile sarà in California, al Coachella Music Festival, la rassegna più «cool» del mondo.

Cohen, no repentance

L' (Italy), by G.BR., March 30, 2009


Between love and religion, the Canadian singer-songwriter returns with a live CD

A Leonard Cohen, the great sage of the song writing "When they say repent / I wonder what they meant." Understand the wonder of Leonard Cohen and sings' The Future ': what should never regret this Canadian artist came to exceed 70 years and still able to perform excellently in his live repertoire?

This vitality and modernity of his compositions, is a witness to the DVD and double CD "Live in London". The recordings are taken from the concert that Cohen held with his band at the 02 Arena in London, last July 17. For the Canadian singer-songwriter and novelist has been a return, since missing from the stage by at least 15 years.

"We are honored to play for you tonight," Cohen confesses to the public in London, before admitting that several years have passed since the last time he performed live in the capital. "It was 1994 - he jokes - and I was only a boy of 60 years with a crazy dream."

The return of a great concert with Leonard was incorporated last year with enthusiasm: the figures speak of 700,000 tickets sold for the 84 concerts on tour.

"Live in London" also works as a greatest hits, as it retraces the entire career of an artist not only blessed by the gift of a dark voice, deep and warm but also acute author of poems entered in the history of pop music. Love between the sacred and profane love, the delights of the flesh ( "I'm your man ',' Is not no cure for love ') and passion for the Scriptures (" Hallelujah "," Whither thou goest), Cohen especially in concert, accompanied by a female chorus, stages the dichotomy - asceticism and pleasure - in his writing, perhaps the element that gives to its modern art.

Each new generation, from the 60s onwards, Cohen rediscovers its own but the singer / performer who has perhaps better understand the pressures and contradictions opposite piercing was Jeff Buckley. So we can say that if today the great sage Leonard is heard by the twenties, it is due to the celestial version of "Hallelujah" which gave Jeff in his first and last album made in life, "Grace." This song, sung by its author in the second CD "Live in London, remains a timeless masterpiece, so that was back in the top of the British charts in March of 2008, rediscovered by reality 'American Idol', and then resumed in column sound of the series American teenager "One tree hill."

Last Christmas there were 3 versions of the song in the English top 40: the winner of 'X Factor' UK version, that of Buckley and that of Cohen himself. That his charm, even voice, remained unchanged, says the timing of the next concerts: April 17 will be in California, the Coachella Music Festival, the show more 'cool' in the world.


RECENSIONE/ Live in London, il nuovo album di Leonard Cohen

Il Sussidiario (Italy), by Paolo Vites, March 25, 2009

«Questa canzone nasce come una preghiera, in un momento difficile della mia vita».

If It Be Your Will, se questa è la tua volontà, viene dapprima recitata, la voce profonda e antica come il profeta che declamava i suoi versi davanti al tempio di Salomone. Poi la stessa voce aggiunge «adesso la canteranno le Sorelle Webb». The Webb Sisters - splendido duo femminile che insieme a una terza vocalist, la nera Sharon Robinson, hanno accompagnato il poeta per tutto il suo inaspettato, sorprendente tour del ritorno alle scene - intonano meravigliosamente, con vere voci angeliche, la canzone scritta da Leonard Cohen.

è uno dei momenti più toccanti e incisivi di un disco che è tutto toccante e incisivo, il doppio cd (anche su dvd) uscito in questi giorni dal titolo "Live in London" e che documenta il concerto tenuto appunto a Londra, alla 02 Arena la scorsa estate, nel corso del tour mondiale che ha anche toccato l'Italia due volte e che ha visto la bellezza di 700mila spettatori in 84 concerti.

If It Be Your Will è dunque una preghiera («Se è la tua volontà che io non parli più e che la mia voce rimanga silenziosa, come lo era prima, non parlerò più... Se è la tua volontà che una voce sia vera, canterò per te») come lo sono in fondo tutte le canzoni di questo straordinario artista 74enne. Che canti l'amore carnale, il desiderio o la perdita, un mondo imbestialito tra "matrimoni spezzati" e "bambini non nati", o finanche il misterioso atto del creare una canzone, Leonard Cohen sta pregando. è evidente in Anthem, canzone che esalta la natura del cuore dell'uomo: «Suona le campane che ancora possono suonare, dimentica la tua offerta perfetta. C'è una crepa in ogni cosa ed è da lî che passa la luce».

Ventisei canzoni che passano in rassegna una carriera cominciata nel 1968, da Suzanne fino alla recente Boogie Street, passando per brani di struggente bellezza come Hallelujah o Bird on the Wire.

Accompagnato da un ensemble elegante che sparge con discrezione umori jazz, soul e folk, specialmente il bravo tastierista Neil Larsen e il multi strumentista Javier Mas, Cohen si esibisce con eleganza sembrando stupirsi lui stesso di canzoni che raramente permettono di vedere un autore mettersi cosî a nudo davanti al suo pubblico. E il pubblico percepisce questo, con larghi e affettuosi scrosci di applausi. Allora hanno senso le parole di giornali come l'irlandese "Independent", che ha scritto: «Quando (...) Cohen si trova sul palco, non ci si più aspettare nulla di meno di un evento culturale di dimensioni bibliche».

Un documento prezioso allora, da conservare e a cui tornare a lungo, questo "Live in London", testimonianza di un modo di intendere la canzone e l'arte come porta aperta al mistero. Un mondo che va scomparendo sempre più, non solo nella canzone.

REVIEW / Live in London, the new album of Leonard Cohen

Il Sussidiario (Italy), by Paolo Vites, March 25, 2009

"This song began as a prayer at a difficult moment of my life."

If It Be Your Will, if this is your will, is recited first, the voice deep and ancient as the prophet who declaimed his poetry in front of the temple of Solomon. Then the same voice adds "the Webb sisters to sing." The Webb Sisters - beautiful female duo with a third vocalist, Sharon Robinson, the black, accompanied the poet for his unexpected, surprising return to the tour of the scene - sing beautifully, with true angelic voices, the song written by Leonard Cohen.

It is one of the most moving and incisive a disc that is all touching and incisive, the double cd (also on dvd) out these days titled "Live in London" and that documents a concert held in London just at the 02 Arena last summer, during the world tour that has also touched Italy twice and had seen the beauty of 700mila audiences in 84 concerts.

If It Be Your Will is a prayer ( "Where is your will that I do not speak more, and that my voice will remain silent, as it was before, do not talk about ... If it is your will that an item is real , sing for you ") as are basically all the songs of this extraordinary artist 74enne. What songs carnal love, desire, or loss, a world enrage between "broken marriages" and "unborn children", or even the mysterious act of creating a song, Leonard Cohen is praying. It is evident in Anthem, the song that highlights the nature of the human heart: "He plays the bells that still can ring, forget your perfect offering. There is a crack in everything, and then passing the light. "

Twenty-six songs that go through a career started in 1968, up from the recent Suzanne Boogie Street, passing through melting beauty of songs like Hallelujah or Bird on the Wire.

Accompanied by an elegant ensemble that spreads discreetly mood jazz, soul and folk, especially the talented keyboardist Neil Larsen and multi instrumentalist Javier Mas, Cohen performs with elegance seems surprised himself with songs that rarely make it possible to see an author make such a naked in front of his audience. And the audience perceives that, with large and affectionate roar of applause. Then make sense of the word as the Irish newspaper "Independent", who wrote: "When (...) is Cohen on stage, do not expect anything less than a cultural event of biblical dimensions."

A valuable document then be retained and which go back a long time, this "Live in London", evidence of a way of understanding the song and art as a door open to the mystery. A world that is disappearing more and more, not only in song.


Le vieux sage et le chat de gouttière

La Presse (Canada), by Alain De Repentigny, March 29, 2009

Leonard Cohen a créé l'événement au Festival de jazz l'an dernier et depuis, on le réclame partout dans le monde. Jeff Beck, lui, pourrait marquer le 30e Festival de jazz où il donnera ses deux premiers concerts en carrière à Montréal. Le hasard, qui n'en manque pas une, veut que les DVD de leurs concerts arrivent en magasin cette semaine.

Le mois dernier, à New York, le directeur musical de Leonard Cohen, Roscoe Beck, m'a raconté les circonstances difficiles du tournage du DVD Live in London qui sera en magasin mardi. Problèmes techniques, manque de temps pour faire la balance de son, crainte légitime de jouer une musique intime dans l'immensité du O2 Arena, ça augurait mal. «Puis juste avant la deuxième chanson, ajoutait Roscoe Beck, Leonard a dit au public: «C'est merveilleux d'être rassemblés ici, juste de l'autre côté de l'intimité.» La glace était brisée!»

Si Leonard Cohen était nerveux, rien n'y paraît dans ce spectacle filmé le 17 juillet 2008. Cohen, le sage, a l'air tellement épanoui, tellement en paix avec lui-même et avec ce public chaleureux que sa sérénité et son bonheur rejaillissent sur ses excellents musiciens et chanteuses. Le pouvoir de ses chansons «intimes» opère parfaitement, et le chanteur à la voix d'or et au verbe foisonnant impose aux 16 000 spectateurs une forme de recueillement.

Le Cohen pince sans rire, maîtres ès autodérision et ironie, est aussi de la partie. Avant Tower of Song, il raconte: «J'ai pris un verre avec mon vieux professeur, il a 102 ans aujourd'hui, il devait en avoir 97 à l'époque. Il m'a dit: «Excuse-moi de ne pas mourir». Je me sens un peu comme lui.» à 73 ans - il fêtera ses 75 ans en octobre - Leonard Cohen est suffisamment en vie pour se donner pendant 2h40 puis sortir de scène en sautillant.

à défaut de le voir en personne, ce DVD est ce qu'il y a de mieux pour apprécier Leonard Cohen. Tout y est montré, sans tricherie, même quand le chanteur trébuche légèrement dans le texte de Bird on the Wire. Un seul bémol: la réalisation, la caméra, le montage font un peu beaucoup amateur. Soulignons qu'on peut lire le texte de chacune des chansons à l'écran et voir Cohen l'interpréter sur scène tout de suite après.

The wise old man and gutter

La Presse (France), by Alain De Repentigny, March 29, 2009

Leonard Cohen has created the event at the Jazz Festival last year and since then the calls anywhere in the world. Jeff Beck, it could mark the 30th Jazz Festival where he will give his first two career with concerts in Montreal. Chance, who does not lack, is that their concert DVD coming to stores this week.

Last month, New York, the musical director of Leonard Cohen, Roscoe Beck, told me the circumstances of the shooting of the DVD Live in London who will be in stores Tuesday. Technical problems, lack of time to balance the sound, legitimate fear of playing music in the intimate immensity of the O2 Arena, it augured poorly. "Then just before the second song, said Roscoe Beck, Leonard told the audience:" It's wonderful to be here together, just onthe other side of intimacy. "The ice was broken!"

If Leonard Cohen was nervous, nothing appears in this show filmed on 17 July 2008. Cohen, the wise, has looked so happy, so at peace with itself and with the warm public tranquility and happiness reflects on his excellent musicians and singers. The power of his songs' intimate operates perfectly, and the singer with the voice of gold and the verb imposes foisonnant 16 000 spectators to a form of meditation.

The Cohen clip without laughing, and master of self-irony is also there. Before Tower of Song, he said: "I had a drink with my old teacher, he is 102 years old today, he was 97 at the time. He said: "Excuse me for not dying." I feel a little like him." At 73 years - he will celebrate his 75th birthday in October - Leonard Cohen is sufficiently alive to provide for 2:40 and then from the scene skipping.

Failing to see him in person, this DVD is the best to enjoy Leonard Cohen. Everything is shown, without cheating, even when the singer stumbles slightly in the text of Bird on the Wire. One note: the implementation, camera, editing is a bit much amateur. Note that you can read the text of each song on the screen and see Cohen interpret on stage immediately after.


Leonard Cohen - Live In London (Germany), by Andreas Weist, March 27, 2009

"Hallelujah" gibt es in unzähligen, viel schöner eingesungenen Versionen — doch wenn Leonard Cohen mit geschlossenen Augen und geballter Faust die Lyrics schmettert, ist Gänsehaut vorprogrammiert und die Zuschauer in der Londoner O2-Arena erheben sich begeistert von ihren Sitzen. Es berührt zutiefst, zu sehen, welche Energie der alte Mann in die Performance seiner Songs legt. Das sind die Momente, die dieses Konzert so einzigartig machen. Der 73jährige kanadische Lyriker und Songwriter steht fast demütig auf der Bühne, hat aber zugleich das Publikum fest im Griff und zieht es von Beginn an in seinen Bann.

2008 startete Cohen die erste Tournee nach 15 Jahren, die ihn in 84 (!) Länder führte. Und erstmals erscheint als Bonbon zum Abschluss dieser ereignisreichen Zeit ein Konzertmitschnitt des Künstlers auf DVD. Seine sonore Bassstimme klingt prägnant wie eh und je und hat im Alter kaum an Kraft eingebüβt. Das Programm ist ein Querschnitt durch alle Epochen seines musikalischen Schaffens inklusive der Klassiker wie "Suzanne", "Bird On The Wire", "So Long, Marianne" und natürlich "First We Take Manhatten". Die Ansagen sind vielmehr rezitierte Gedichte als eine Kommunikation mit dem Publikum, das dennoch andächtig jedes Wort aufsaugt. Die wenigen Momente, in denen Cohen seinen Hut abnimmt, genieβt er mit schelmischem Grinsen.

137 Minuten dauert das in zwei Sets gegliederte Konzert. Sehr emotional bedankt Leonard Cohen sich bei seinem Publikum dafür, dass es seine Songs am Leben erhält und fügt zugleich mit "Sorry for not dieing" eine ironische Bemerkung zu seinem Alter an. Keiner würde ihm verübeln, wenn ein Auftritt nach 90 Minuten beendet wäre, doch der Meister will sein Publikum nicht mit Halbherzigkeiten abspeisen. Die Energie ist allemal vorhanden.

Wie gewohnt begibt sich das Multitalent bisweilen selbst an Piano und Gitarre, überlässt ansonsten aber einer hervorragenden Backing Band dieses Feld. Vokale Unterstützung gibt es durch drei Backgroundsängerinnen, die Cohen zwar nicht nötig hätte, die das Konzert aber auch optisch bereichern. Als DVD-Extras finden sich nur die Songlyrics auf Texttafeln. Das reicht bei diesem Ausnahmekonzert aber auch locker aus. "Mach noch lange weiter, Leonard!"

Leonard Cohen - Live In London (Germany), by Andreas Weist, March 27, 2009

"Hallelujah" is available in countless, much nicer eingesungenen versions - but if Leonard Cohen with closed eyes and concentrated, the lyrics Faust blares is inevitable goosebumps and the audience at London's O2 Arena rose enthusiastically from their seats. It deeply touched to see the energy of the old man in the performance of his songs sets. These are the moments that this concert unique. The 73jährige Canadian poet and songwriter is almost humble on stage, but also the audience firmly in the grip and pulls it from the beginning in its spell.

Cohen 2008 starting the first tour in 15 years, who in 84 (!) Countries. And for the first time seems to be a sweet conclusion to this exciting time a concert recording of the artist on DVD. His sonorous bass voice sounds concise as ever and has hardly aged at power status. The program is a cross section through all eras of his musical works, including classics like "Suzanne," "Bird On The Wire," "So Long, Marianne" and, of course, "First We Take Manhattan." The announcements are rather recited poems as a communication with the audience, yet reverently absorbing every word. The few moments in which Cohen declines his hat, he enjoys with mischievous grin.

Lasts 137 minutes in two sets of structured concert. Very emotional thanks Leonard Cohen at his audience that his songs are alive and fits together with "Sorry for not dieing" an ironic remark about his age. Nobody would blame him if an appearance after 90 minutes would be, but the master wants his audience not with abspeisen overcautious. The energy is always available.

As usual, moving the multi-talented, sometimes even on piano and guitar, but otherwise leaves a great backing band that field. Vowels, there is support by three background singers, which Cohen did not need to have the concert but also visually enriching. As DVD extras are just the song lyrics on text panels. That's enough for this exceptional concert but also from loose. "Make a long continued, Leonard!"


Novo DVD de Leonard Cohen já está à venda

SRZD (Rio de Janeiro) by Luiz Felipe Carneiro, April 12, 2009

Qualquer dia desses, vou fazer um comentário sobre "Live In London", novo DVD e CD duplo de Leonard Cohen. De início, só dá para adiantar que o vídeo é uma das melhores coisas lançadas nesse ano. São mais de duas horas de show, no qual Cohen é acompanhado por uma super banda. No repertório, clássicos como "Anthem", "Dance Me To The End Of Love", "Hey, That's No Way To Say Goodbye", "I'm Your Man" e "Hallelujah".

New DVD of Leonard Cohen is already on sale

SRZD (Rio de Janeiro) by Luiz Felipe Carneiro, April 12, 2009

Any of these days, I make a comment on "Live In London", new DVD and double CD of Leonard Cohen. Initially, only you can say that the video is one of the best things released this year. Over two hours of show, in which Cohen is accompanied by a super band. In the repertoire, classics like "Anthem," "Dance Me To The End Of Love", "Hey, That's No Way To Say Goodbye," "I'm Your Man" and "Hallelujah."


Leonard Cohen: suchender, zweifelnder Geist

Der Tagesspiegel (Germany) by Von Ralph Geisenhanslüke, April 17, 2009

Leonard Cohen ist jetzt fast 75. Er wird immer leiser und heiterer. Diese Woche ist er auf Platz 21 mit "Live In London".

Mit 13 lernte er angeblich Gitarrespielen, um die Mädchen zu beeindrucken. Ein häufiger Grund. Doch Leonard Cohen, so können wir Nachgeborenen mutmaβen, hatte das wahrscheinlich schon damals nicht nötig. Er schafft das allein mit seinen Worten. Er wollte zunächst Schriftsteller werden, ehe er zufällig als Sänger entdeckt wurde. Da hatten andere schon mit seinen Texten Erfolg. Nun kam seine Stimme hinzu, 1967 beim Newport-Festival. Durch sie wurde er endgültig zum „ladies man", als der er bis heute apostrophiert wird. Zu Unrecht, denn Leonard Cohen auf das Samtig-Streichelnde zu reduzieren, ist eine grobe Vereinfachung. Noch Wochen nach dem Berliner Konzert im letzten Jahr traf man Menschen aller Geschlechter, die verzückt berichteten. Cohen-Konzerte sind Gottesdienste, aber der Gott ist nicht Cohen, sondern die Poesie. Egal wo er Station machte im Lauf seiner bald 75 Lebensjahre, im New Yorker Chelsea Hotel, auf Kuba, auf der griechischen Insel Hydra oder im Zen-Kloster, wo er den Mönchsnamen Jikan, „der Stille", bekam: er blieb ein suchender, zweifelnder Geist. Schnelle Antworten, Slogans und Parolen kamen nie aus seinem Munde.

In einer Moderation dieses Konzerts in London zählt er eine lange Liste von Philosophien und Psychopharmaka auf, die allesamt nicht als Heilmethode gegen die Liebe taugen. Auch wenn er seinen Text von „A Thousand Kisses Deep" bis ans Ende seiner Tage weiterschreibt - mittlerweile sind es über 40 Strophen —, Cohen weiβ um die Vergeblichkeit und erzählt davon mit ironischer und zugleich hingebungsvoller Resignation. „There Ain't No Cure For Love". Aber nach langen Phasen der Depression wird Cohen nun immer heiterer. Mit langem Atem und ruhigem Puls. Er erlebt, wie er in einem Interview sagte, „den Frühling seines Alters". Dessen Blüten und Früchte sind auf diesem Live-Album delikat und mit 27 Songs üppig aufgetischt. Die Frage stand im Raum: War das die letzte Tournee? Nein, Cohen kommt im Juli noch einmal nach Berlin. Keine Frage: Er ist unser Mann.

Leonard Cohen: seeking, doubting spirit

Der Tagesspiegel (Germany) by Von Ralph Geisenhanslüke, April 17, 2009

Leonard Cohen is now almost 75th He is always quiet and serene. This week, he is ranked 21 with "Live In London".

At 13, he allegedly learned to play guitar in order to impress the girls. A common reason. But Leonard Cohen, we can speculate born, was probably not necessary at that time. He creates with his words alone. He initially wanted to become a writer until he accidentally discovered as a singer. Since others have had with his texts success. Now came his voice added, 1967 at the Newport Festival. Through them, he was finally to the "ladies man", as he still is apostrophized. Wrongly, for Leonard Cohen on the velvety-Streichelnde to reduce, is a gross simplification. Even weeks after the concert in Berlin last year, we met people of all genders who reported ecstatic. Cohen concerts are religious services, but God is not Cohen, but the poetry. No matter where he stopped during his 75 years of life soon, in New York's Chelsea Hotel, in Cuba, on the Greek island of Hydra or the Zen monastery, where he was the monk's name Jikan, "the silence", had he remained a searching, doubting mind. Fast answers, slogans and slogans never came from his lips.

In a moderation of this concert in London he has a long list of philosophies and psychotropic drugs, which are all not as a cure against the love suck. Even if his version of "A Thousand Kisses Deep" to the end of his days to write - now there are over 40 stanzas - Cohen is aware of the futility and told them with both dedicated and ironic resignation. "There Is not No Cure For Love". But after long periods of depression Cohen will now always cheerful. With a long breath and calm pulse. He experienced, as he said in an interview, "the springtime of his age." Its flowers and fruits are on this live album delicately with 27 songs and lush is served. The issue was included in the room: Was that the last tour? No, Cohen is once again in July in Berlin. No question: He is our man.

Leonard Cohen - Live in London

Fast Forward Weekly (Calgary) - April 23, 2009 by Peter Hemminger

It's a widely known secret that Leonard Cohen's first concert tour in 13 years was prompted by financial woes. When his manager (allegedly) ran off with Cohen's savings and the publishing rights to his songs, the then-71-year-old had little choice but to hit the road and recoup some of the losses.

Judging from Live in London, though, the tour was far from a mere cash grab. The double-disc set captures Cohen's entire two-and-a-half-hour performance, stage banter and all, and the result is pure magic.

Cohen is one of those artists who wears his age like a fitted suit, and his gravelly baritone has never sounded better. Even in his early days, he wasn't so much a singer as a voice — like Bob Dylan, his melodies have always been more implied than sung — but what the voice lacks in melody, it more than makes up for in emotional depth. From the raspy whisper of "Bird on a Wire" to the sinister lecherousness of "Everybody Knows," Cohen's performances are never overplayed, but there's never a moment where you don't know exactly what he's thinking.

Though this is clearly Cohen's show, he's humble enough to spotlight his band at every turn. Backing vocalist Sharon Robinson and multi-instrumentalist Javier Mas earn multiple plaudits from the veteran singer-songwriter, and rightly so — Robinson, along with Charley and Hattie Webb, enrich every song with their harmonies, and Mas's gypsy-influenced strings add invaluable colour.

Near the beginning of his set, Cohen jokes that it's "Wonderful to be gathered here on just the other side of intimacy." Self-deprecation aside, Live in London is proof that Cohen is a master at seducing, engaging and manipulating his audience. Despite his tour's fiscal origins, Live in London is as vital as anything in the man's catalogue.

Practice makes perfect

Timmins Daily Press (Ontario) - April 23, 2009 by John Emms

Leonard Cohen -- "Live In London," DVD --

I was surprised at the power of this show. I was expecting a really scaled-down kind of performance.

Instead it's a full-blown show with a nine-piece band.

Cohen's charm and charisma is undeniable.

That is the key to the show, along with the lyrics.

When you watch Cohen perform tracks like "The Future," "Hallelujah," "Bird On A Wire" and "Tower of Song," it seems the lyrics take on a whole scope of true to life passion.

That's when you are reminded of how brilliant he is.

The band is very good, and like any good band they cater to Cohen's passion.

The dynamics are killer. It is a great looking concert and above all, a great audio mix in stereo and 5.1 surround sound.

Leonard Cohen - Back and Better Than Ever

The Observer (South Bend, Indiana) - April 24, 2009 by Nicholas Anderson

Social security is hemorrhaging money. Over the past couple of years, it has become clear that solid financial planning is necessary for an easy retirement. Sob stories about retirees going back to work evoke sympathy from even the coldest of hearts. Fortunately, one of these stories has turned into an enormous gain.

Twelve years ago, Leonard Cohen was doing well: Moderate mainstream fame, a legion of religiously devoted fans and the most impressive catalogue of songs this side of Bob Dylan. Cohen, best known for writing the ubiquitous "Hallelujah," decided it was about time to take a break. For him, this meant spending a decade living as a Buddhist Monk. Emerging in late 2007, Cohen found that a former manager had embezzled his lifetime of earnings. His new retirement fund became his first tour in over 15 years.

At 74 years old and years out of practice, a live show was far from a sure thing. As early shows gathered raving reviews, plans to film a concert in London formed. The resulting DVD proves that it is impossible for Cohen to be in it for the money; he's there to share his passion, his pride and his life.

For a man who's primarily known for his songwriting, Cohen displays the abilities of an excellent performer. Dressed in a double-breasted suit and fedora, Cohen looks like a member of the Rat Pack, about 50 years too late. From the moment Cohen runs on the stage, he commands it with a presence that is both powerful and understated. Cohen takes the packed 20,000-seat arena and makes it feel like a 300 person club. The show runs an impressive three hours but moves at an incredible rate.

Cohen packs the stage with performers who perfectly compliment his style. While Cohen is the center of attention, each member of the group provides a deep and appropriate solo spread throughout the concert. Javier Mas opens and carries "Who by Fire" with an intricately wonderful melody from a 12-string guitar and Dino Soldo's woodwinds create an atmosphere across several songs that carry the listener effortlessly. Every musician on stage masters their instrument and bends it to Cohen's will.

While the instrumentation already takes the concert to an extreme level of art, Cohen's vocals go beyond it. His voice has become deeper and grittier with age, working perfectly with the style of his songs. The chasm between his rasp tone and the feminine voices of Sharon Robinson, Charley Webb and Hattie Webb illustrates the divide between heaven and earth and the interplay is just as beautiful.

Throughout his life, Cohen struggled with bouts of depression. These dark moments are reflected in his songs. At their initial recordings, many of his songs are best described as haunting, heavy and enchanting. With age, Cohen has mellowed without having the same effect on his music. In fact, the years have only increased the authenticity of his songs. He's a man who's been to the depths his lyrics explore but has also been healed. He owes a debt to his songs and this concert is his best attempt at payment.

In such a large crowd of people, Cohen achieves something rare: a moment of silence. With the crowd still cheering from the previous song, the opening notes of "Hallelujah" are heard. After an upturn in crowd noise in anticipation, the stadium goes quiet for most of the remaining song. The souls of those onstage are offered to the song. Cohen hits every note with a power fueled by a mixture of pain and joy, which can clearly be seen on his face.

Leonard Cohen truly is a rare artist giving a rare performance. A five-decade career is delivered over 26 songs. "Live in London" serves as both a great introduction and end piece to his work. Cohen has surpassed the goal of finding music that is enjoyable and found music that matters.

Leonard Cohen "Live in London"
Sony Music
4 out of 4 shamrocks
Recommended tracks "Hallelujah", "First We Take Manhattan", "Everybody Knows"

Leonard Cohen - Live In London

Exclaim! (Canada) - April 2009 by Kerry Doole

The fact that Cohen, in his mid-70s, is more popular than ever before is both pleasing and a bit surprising. By his high standards, his last couple of albums have been rather disappointing, but Cohen sagely relies on the treasure trove of his earlier material on current world tours. Live In London, filmed at his O2 Arena show last July, is already a best seller and it will please both recent concertgoers seeking a souvenir and fans who couldn't afford a ticket. A typically top-notch cast of musicians and backing singers are on hand and the master gives them space to shine, while the cinematography is effectively direct and unfussy. An excellent bonus feature on the DVD is a lyric sheet for all the songs played. Cohen begins the 25-song set by humbly thanking the audience for their presence then launches into a haunting gypsy noir version of "Dance Me To The End Of Love." It's hard to argue with Cohen's crowd-pleasing choice to stick with his best-known songs but it's too bad he completely ignores material from his bleakest tour-de-force, Songs Of Love And Hate. His signature wit is well in evidence, as when he jokes, "I last played London when I was 60. A kid with a crazy dream." Cohen may well ache in the places he used to play but we can be immensely grateful he still plays. (Sony)

New releases from Marianne Faithfull and Leonard Cohen

Lahontan Valley News (Nevada) - April 16, 2009 by Kirk Robertson

"Leonard Cohen: Live in London" (Columbia) is just that, the two-CD set of his entire three-hour, four encore concert at the O2 Arena. The repertoire includes twenty-five of his songs from earlier classics like "Suzanne" and "Bird on Wire" to more recent works such as "Everybody Knows" and "In My secret Life."

Cohen offers occasional droll reminiscences and patter between songs noting that the last time he played in London, fourteen years earlier, he was just a "60-year old kid with a crazy dream," and has since studied deeply in philosophy and religion but "cheerfulness kept breaking through." And when he reads a couple of pieces as poems, the 20,000+ audience is reverently silent.

The emotionally moving songs provide an overview of his abiding concerns: sentiments, both Biblical and Carnal, rendered in resonant couplets that offer shelter from the apocalypse of world events and the weather of our own feelings.

The presentation of the songs—a collaborative effort in conjunction with the nine-piece ensemble—opens up new ways of hearing them, as in Sharon Robinson's (his long-time songwriting partner) emotion-drenched vocal introduction to "Boogie Street." If you've ever been moved by a Cohen song, this CD is a must have; and if you are unfamiliar with the man and his music, start here.

Leonard Cohen, 'Live in London'

Courier-Journal (KY) - April 17, 2009 by Jeffrey Lee Puckett

I have tried to love Leonard Cohen for many years. He is the brilliant, charming protagonist from an epic first novel come to roaring life, a man who has lived at a higher level than most — an acclaimed poet, musician, novelist, infamous lover and, at age 74, a spectacular survivor.

There is much to admire, but admiration isn't love, and "Live in London" has finally brought understanding. It is a very good album, filled with much of Cohen's best material impeccably performed (maybe too impeccably) by an air-tight band. Cohen's bass baritone is in fine, craggy form as he simultaneously sounds all-knowing and mystified, a nice combination.

But at two hours long, it is a bear to get through, especially since Cohen's music is the sound of one long, gray, rainy afternoon. Those have their appeal, of course, and you'll enjoy your share of epiphanies in the middle of one — but a little goes a long way.

Live in London

Billboard - April 25, 2009 by Wayne Robins

Take almost 15 years off from performing at age 60, and won't fans forget you? Not if you're Leonard Cohen, whose return to the stage last year was greeted with hallelujahs. Deservedly, too: "Live in London" at the 02 Arena (July 17, 2008) is available as both a two-CD album and a two-DVD set, and you can't go wrong with either—both capture Cohen's return with remarkable fidelity, in all senses of the word. The concert sound is as vibrant as a fussed-over studio recording, and on the DVD Cohen looks rakish in his fedora and pinstripe suit. The spare but strategically deployed band, led by musical director/bassist Roscoe Beck, plays with the clarity, and you'll share the smile Cohen frequently wears in announcing his background singers: Sharon Robinson and Charley and Hattie Webb, "the Webb sisters." Between tunes Cohen recites lyrics from the next song to be performed, and these 26 tunes, delivered in his steady rumbling baritone, may have never sounded better, certainly not in one place on one special night. From his ancient folk-rock standards "Suzanne" and "Bird on the Wire" to the darkly visionary later songs like "First We Take Manhattan," "The Future" "Democracy" and "Closing Time," Cohen delivers a peak musical and emotional experience.

Recording captures Cohen at top of his game

The Guardian (Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada) - April 18, 2009 by Doug Gallant

It's been almost a year since Leonard Cohen played the Confederation Centre of the Arts in Charlottetown. But I remember that night as if it was yesterday.

I remember standing in the centre's lower foyer before the doors to the theatre opened, wondering whether the Canadian music icon, then 73, could still deliver the kind of performance his audience so hoped to see. Expectations were extraordinarily high that night.

And even though Cohen had not mounted a major tour for 15 years that level of anticipation was still justified. For more than four decades he had enthralled, engaged and inspired us with his words and his music. From his pen had come such contemporary classics as Suzanne, Bird On The Wire, Hallelujah, So Long Marianne, I'm Your Man, Sisters of Mercy and If It Be Your Will.

I entered the theatre that night with a tremendous amount of respect for Cohen the songwriter and an appreciation for what he had accomplished as an artist but you would not have called me a huge fan. By the time I left however that had changed. Cohen was nothing short of mesmerizing.

It would have been nigh on impossible to have sat in that theatre that night, heard what I heard and saw what I saw — both in Cohen and in the eyes of so many of his fans — and not come away with the feeling that you had just experienced something very, very special. Cohen fans here may never experience anything quite like that night again. But they can come close.

Cohen has just released an exceptionally fine live recording made during that same tour. Leonard Cohen: Live in London was recorded during a concert at the O2, which is fast becoming the venue everybody who plays London wants to play. This two-CD set — which is also available on DVD — features more than 20 songs from Cohen's songbook, almost all of which he performed in Charlottetown, and almost all of which are performed in the same order as the Charlottetown show.

No, listening to this set is not the same as being there, but it comes as close as any live concert recording I've ever heard to recreating the experience enjoyed by those who plunked down good money for a seat in the theatre. Notch the volume up, dim the lights, close your eyes and soak it all in. You can almost see the expression on Cohen's face when he offers up material like Ain't No Cure For Love, Suzanne, I'm Your Man or Bird On The Wire. You can feel the audience hang on every line as he recites A Thousand Kisses Deep.You feel the connection between Cohen and his audience throughout the course of this show.

Some 40 years on he has lost nothing to time in terms of his ability to reach out to his audience and make them feel as if he's singing to each and every member of that audience like they were the only people in the room. Every song here is like a gift from Cohen to his audience. And boy does he deliver.

At an age when most of his peers have stepped aside, he actually sounds better than he did on his last live recording, Field Commander Cohen which, although recorded in 1979, was only released in 2001. I think it's the timbre of his voice I prefer. Some might say he does a remarkable job here for someone his age but I will not go down that road. He sounds good here for an artist of any age.

Of course it doesn't hurt to have a band behind you as strong as the band that backed him on this tour. Sharing the stage with Cohen night after night were bass player Roscoe Beck, keyboard player Neil Larsen, guitarist Bob Metzger, drummer Rafael Gayol, multi-instrumentalist Javier Mas and reed player Dino Soldo. Virtually every one of those guys is a first-call player. Same goes for vocalists Sharon Robinson and the Webb Sisters. Together, they made for a formidable team, with Cohen as the star forward.

Leonard Cohen: Live In London is a remarkable recording. But it's much more than that. It's a milestone, one that bears witness to the significance of Cohen's contribution to popular music over four decades. Only a handful of songwriters out there can lay claim to a body of work that has been so universally acclaimed. This is a recording to be listened to over and over and over again.

For the benefit of anyone who's keeping tabs, there are three songs in the London concert he did not perform here in Charlottetown: Hey, That's No Way To Say Goodbye, If It Be Your Will and Sisters of Mercy. Conversely, there were two songs that made the set list in Charlottetown that you won't find on the London concert: Heart With No Companion and That Don't Make It Junk.

Rating: 4-1/2 stars out of 5

Leonard Cohen's 'Live in London' is simply marvelous - April 15, 2009 by David Cheal

Recorded in one night at London's O2 Arena last July, this double album captures Cohen's miraculous comeback tour in all its aching glory.

The voice resonates with a lifetime's experience, the band are immaculate, and you can almost hear the twinkle in his eye as he flirts with his backing singers. Marvelous.

Telegraph rating: * * * *

Leonard Cohen: Live In London

DVD Verdict - April 15, 2009 by Gordon Sullivan

The Charge

"There ain't no cure for love."

Opening Statement

Late in 2008 I paid sixty bucks and drove five hours to see Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds in Washington, D.C. It was easily one of the best shows I've ever seen and set a gold standard for concerts to follow. The next day I decided that sixty dollars and five hours was going to be my limit on how much a concert would put me out, because it's highly unlikely that anything else could give quite as much bang for the buck as Nick Cave did that night. Much to my dismay, when Leonard Cohen announced his first tour of North America in fifteen years, the cheapest tickets at the venue closest to me (also in the Washington, D.C. area) were eighty dollars. I just couldn't bring myself to see the master of intimacy, Leonard Cohen, at an outdoor pavilion for eighty dollars a ticket. Because of this, I was overjoyed when the DVD Leonard Cohen: Live in London was announced. Though not as exquisite as seeing the man live, this DVD offers compelling evidence that Leonard Cohen still matters.

Facts of the Case

Musicians' loss is often fans' gains. Divorce has given us some of the best music of the twentieth century, touring is a monstrous hardship that gives us live music; sometimes managers run off with an artist's nest egg, forcing the artists out of retirement to become financially solvent. The latter happened to Leonard Cohen, and it forced the 73-year-old Canadian bard to embark on his first tour in over a decade. In 2008 most of his dates were confined to Europe, and 2009 saw him hit American shores, bringing his unique blend of music and poetry. The Live in London DVD is taken from a show on July 17th at London's O2 arena. The show, which runs over two hours long, is split into two sets.

The Evidence

I've been listening to Leonard Cohen most of my life, and yet this DVD reminded me of several things that I'd forgotten about this talented singer-songwriter:

· Cohen is not a poet of sorrow. Yes, many of his songs are about leaving, breaking up, or tragedy, but Cohen himself is never po-faced about. He doesn't revel in sadness for its own sake. Instead, he uses all experience, good and bad, as grist for the mill of poetry. This is especially evident on this DVD. As Cohen sings we can see the joy he brings to even the saddest songs, the way his phrasing shows relish for the words he's polished over the years. His work is really a lesson in perseverance. Listening to it, and especially watching him perform it, shows that beauty can be wrested from the most tragic of circumstances. Cohen also exhibits a joy in performance that few artists, no matter their age, can match. He literally bounds on stage and appears happy to be there for every moment in the spotlight. In fact, watching this disc, it's amazing that he could stay so long away from performance.

· Cohen is an ensemble player. Because of the sparse, guitar-based arrangements of his early work and the increasing reliance on synthesizers as he grew older, it's easy to imagine Cohen as a solitary figure on stage, with only a guitar to keep him company. That image couldn't be more untrue. Joining Cohen for this show are six amazingly talented musicians and three female backup vocalists. However, more important than the musicians' presence is Cohen's interaction with them. These players are not faceless studio-drones who slickly reproduce Cohen's melodies. Instead, there's a give and take between Cohen and his band mates that results in some fantastically improvised musical moments. Also, one need only see one shot of Cohen looking paternally at multi-intrumentalist Javier Mas to know that he values the input of those he shares the stage with.

· Cohen seems genuinely humble. I don't know if it comes out of his early shyness or the time he spent in a Zen monastery, but Cohen is remarkably humble. His entire performance acknowledges just how much he owes the audience for listening to his music, and he's happy to return their attention by playing an assortment of his best work from his four decades of recording. However, this is not a slavish, Vegas-style recreation of Cohen's albums. All of his work has been translated into the new context of his band, so that some of his early, more spare songs get a fuller treatment with organ and electric guitar, while some of his later, synth-heavy songs get a more organic treatment with Javier's aud or twelve-string guitar. The performance manages to honor both Cohen's musical past, as well as his continuing evolution as an artist without ever coming off as pretentious.

· Cohen still has it. Although he can't quite hit all the notes in "Bird On a Wire" anymore, his range is still remarkable. Also, whatever he lacks in range is made up for by the total gravitas he brings to each of his compositions. Lyrics generally remain unchanged on this release, but what changes are made are for the better. His version of "Hallelujah" also blows away all the covers that have proliferated in recent decades.

This release from Sony is generally up to snuff as a concert DVD. The camerawork on the concert itself is generally unobtrusive, and the video transfer does a decent job with the material. There isn't quite as much detail as I'd like, and the whole presentation begs for high-def. Although the video was merely passable, the audio does an excellent job with Cohen's music. The low end has a satisfying thump, while the high end remains clear and hiss free. It's miles above any of the fan-recorded versions I've heard of this tour. Extras, however, are lacking. We get clickable song lyrics on the DVD, which is a nice touch for an artist so lyrically gifted as Cohen, but aside from a short essay in the liner notes, that's all. I would have loved to hear from Cohen himself about coming back to touring after so long, and interviews with his musical collaborators (especially Mas and singer Sharon Robinson). However, these are minor quibbles in the fact of two-and-a-half hours of Cohen's music.

The Rebuttal Witnesses

I could wax ecstatic about Cohen and this release into next year, but there are a few things that I find wrong with this disc. The first is the lack of subtitles. The included lyrics are nice, but I'd love to read along with Cohen sometimes to appreciate the beauty of his words as he sings them. Also, he does a fair bit of speaking during his sets, and although he's not difficult to understand, subtitles would be nice.

I've never been a huge fan of Cohen's use of female backup singers. Here they occasionally sound flat and a bit faceless. It's not a constant annoyance, but I would have been fine without them.

Since I'm picking nits, the only serious hole in this disc's set list is the missing "Famous Blue Raincoat." That's the only song I can think of immediately that I would want but isn't here. Again, considering the wealth of music on display, this is a minor concern.

Closing Statement

If you're not a fan of Leonard Cohen, this release won't change your mind, but if you have any appreciation for his later work (once his voice went low and smoky), then this release is the next best thing to seeing the man himself when he comes through your town. Although it's not the most comprehensive package ever released, this DVD from Sony does an excellent job presenting this remarkable concert.

The Verdict

Not guilty. Hallelujah.

Scales of Justice - Judgment: 98

Live in London (Columbia)

ExpressMilwaukee - April 13, 2009 by Casey Bye

Given the intimacy of Cohen's songs, and the worn warmth of his voice, there's something slightly off-putting about picturing him performing in a 20,000-seat arena. Maybe that's why it's so charmingly reassuring when, announcing a set break during the close of "Anthem," Cohen offers a "Thanks for your kind attention... Thank you, friends."

Cohen is charismatic and gracious throughout this two-disc set, sometimes to the point of distraction, with a generous "Ladies and gentlemen, so-and-so on the insert-instrument-here" for nearly every song. But then, his nine-piece band's performances (along with his own) are deserving of accolades. The set focuses on Cohen's post-1970s recordings, with a few early career highlights like "Suzanne" and "Who By Fire" sprinkled throughout.

Before the recording of this album Cohen had avoided the road for nearly 15 years. Now in his 70s, and still full of vitality, he's capable of filling a three-hour performance with charm, class and beautiful, beautiful music.

Leonard Cohen - Live In London

Quietus - April 14, 2009 by Mick Middles

Unworldy, spiritual, warming, assuredly human. There must be few events on earth quite like a Leonard Cohen show and within the pantheon of rock, I suggest, absolutely nothing is hovering nearby. Cohen is a unique, beautiful captivating spirit and, even if the peppering of shows in the UK last year were assembled to arrest his apparently shakey fiscal situation...well, so be it. At Glastonbury he shone like a beacon amid the mud of lesser artists. In London and Manchester, where I caught his last show on British soil, he performed with a shockingly cheerful manner, skipping across the stage, flirting openly with his backing singers, the extraordinary Webb sisters, and playing jovially with the inglorious nature of the ageing process. The central song in all this was the still magnificent 'Tower of Song', where the lyric lays down the process of his own immortality: "I was born like this, I had no choice, I was born with the gift or a golden voice," he intones before a barrage of cheers.

Those cheers are as evident on this DVD and CD from the London shows as they were in Manchester, and , in the same song, Cohen's rather clunky wrestling with the organ inspires a barrage of crowd support. The response he gathers might be seen as evidence of less than spontaneous set planning, complete with standardised jokes and musings... then again it could just be the artist's firm command of his audience. I choose the latter, for there is over two hours of instantly recognisable music here, and he doesn't even get to touch the morbid growl of his superb Dear Heather album. Such is the almost unprecedented wealth of material.

Every song is a gem. There is no second of filler. What transpires, in the Cohen tradition, is a constant flicker from spiritual profundity to slight teasing. It all perfectly slots together; the dark sexual stirrings of 'I'm Your Man' and 'Aint No Cure For Love to the world weary cynicism of 'Everybody Knows' to blasts of optimism such as 'Anthem' and 'Democracy'. The latter is so weirdly positive it is impossible to listen to without hunting for irony. It's there, of course, as it is in almost every song here. How odd to see a man in his mid seventies ploughing through songs of young lives, such as 'Suzanne', or the darkly Bohemian 'Who by Fire'.

Revisiting these old nuggets is pure joy... and it is pure joy that just flows from this performance. All the better, I suggest, when isn't surrounded by beige clad silver haired people passing Jelly Babies around (as I was, in Manchester... ruined 'Sisters of Mercy', it did).

The musicality is ancient school, and refreshingly so, with a Greek influence flavouring almost every song — courtesy of Javier Mas — while the Webb's add dutiful 'doo dum dums' and succeed in stretching both depth and poignancy. The third backing singer, Sharon Robinson, was Cohen's co-writer of the excellent 'My Secret Life' and she is given her own spot with 'Boogie Street', which tugs the set towards a gritty urbanism.

Amid all this, one hardly notices 'Hallelujah', ironically one of the least affecting songs on this set. Perhaps that's the final, irony... a song gifted to a bland idiom. Let it go, Leonard, for there are brighter diamonds in every corner. Perhaps most surprising of all is the contemporary relevance of all this. Some of this material is years old, and yet still they arrest the modern age with pinpoint accuracy: "Ring the bells that still can ring, forget your perfect offering, there is a crack, a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in."

Review: New Music April 14

The Denver Post - April 14, 2009 by Ricardo Baca

CD a cheaper alternative to Leonard Cohen on Rocks

Leonard Cohen, "Live in London" (Columbia) When it was announced that Leonard Cohen would play a very rare date at Red Rocks Amphitheatre on June 2, fans celebrated. When fans found out that tickets would cost $74.50-$250 (before fees), many reconsidered the purchase.

Cohen is a legend, and it's easy to make the argument that he's worth the money. But for those who recoiled at the sticker shock there is "Live in London," a collection of 25 songs that represent why Cohen is a unique songwriter.

The two-CD set, recorded at London's O2 Arena on July 17, is a sprawling collection that benefits from a full and flourishing band and a flattering mix. The recording captures the solitary nuance of "Suzanne" and the subtle gospel leanings of "Hey, That's No Way to Say Goodbye" with an alarming clarity.

Cohen's sleek-jazz opus "The Future" remains a telling prediction, and the singer-songwriter's distinctively gruff delivery — backed up by a strong core of angelic singers — helps that song and other familiar tunes ("Hallelujah" included) triumph in the live arena.

Music Review: Leonard Cohen - Live In London

BlogCritics Magazine - April 12, 2009 by David Bowling

I had sort of lost track of Leonard Cohen over the years and that has been my loss. He is a true musical poet and his songs have been recorded by hundreds and probably thousands of artists.

Cohen first achieved public attention with a series of critically acclaimed album releases 1967-1974. Songs Of Leonard Cohen, Songs From A Room, Songs Of Love and Hate, and New Skin For The Old Ceremony established him as a songwriter of note and would begin to form the body of work that would lead to his induction into The Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame in 2008.

He has always moved at his own pace. Cohen has released only five studio albums in the last quarter century and had not toured in fifteen years. He caused a great deal of excitement among his fan base when it was announced he would play a number of live dates. Live In London was recorded July 17th, 2008.

Leonard Cohen is now in his mid-seventies and while his voice may be a tad deeper than in his prime, he is still able to present his music effectively and emotionally. The 26 tracks that comprise this two disc set are career spanning and include most of his best known material plus a few surprises along the way. Ever the creative artist, a number of the songs are lengthened and changed as new lyrics and melodies appear.

Columbia has done a good job with this release. The sound is clear and the concert has a complete feel to it. A nice booklet is included which has some informative liner notes and pictures of the concert. When you combine the package with the music, it all adds up to one of the better live albums in recent memory.

The music speaks for itself. His songs of love, loss, religion, depression, and joy are like individual poetic works. "Dance Me To The End Of Love" is passionate and dark. "Suzanne," which has been recorded almost 200 times by other artists, is bittersweet as it is returned to its original form. "Democracy" is a social commentary about sacrifice. "Hallelujah," which recently became a number one hit for Jeff Buckley, clocks in at over seven minutes and contains some new lyrics. It is another of his songs that has been extensively covered by others but here he reclaims it as his own. The concert meanders from one delight to the next as "First We Take Manhattan," "Bird On A Wire," "The Gypsy's Wife," "Closing Time," and "I Tried To Leave" all shine as they take center stage.

Live In London is a triumphant return for Leonard Cohen. It shows him to be not only a master of his craft but affirms just how joyful and affecting music can be when performed by the right person.


Klobouk dolu pred mší Mistra Leonarda

Aktuá (Czechoslovakia) by Tomáš Turek, April 6, 2009

Recenze - Nekrácený, více nezdvouapulhodinový záznam z lonského znovuzrození písnového majestátu Leonarda Cohena vychází na dvojalbu a DVD Live In London.

Prozitek Cohenova koncertu je ale tezko prenositelný kamkoliv. Jeho prítomnost v místnosti mení její teplotu i zivoty. Fanouškovská touha spatrit ho ješte nekdy na pódiu byla asi nejúpenlivejší, jakou si u zijících hudebníku muzeme predstavit. Nedosáhl na nej ani tak tezko dostupný Tom Waits.

Ted uzvíme, ze Cohenuv návrat byl masivní a prazský koncert v rámci Unified Heart Touring Co. splneným snem napechované Tesla Arény - nebo jak se momentálne ono bezcharakterní kluzište jmenuje.

Veselá mysl silnejší neznábozenství

Predešlé turné k albu The Future v roce 1993 bylo devastující. Pred kazdým vystoupením Cohen vytáhnul tri láhve vína a po svetové krasojízde radej vzápetí uprchl do zenového kláštera na Mount Baldy.

Jak ríká na aktuálním ziváku: „Je to dlouho, co jsem stál naposledy na londýnském pódiu. Bylo to pred ctrnácti nebo patnácti lety. Bylo mi šedesát - díte s bláznivým snem. Od té doby jsem si vzal spoustu Prozacu... a také jsem hluboce studoval filosofie a nábozenství. Ale veselost neprestávala prorázet ven."

Zaplatpánbuh, chce se ríct - at je dotycný jakékoliv víry. Cohen je sebeironický, písne ale bere smrtelne vázne. Ackoliv je krome erotické touhy plný skepse a nespojenosti se stavem vecí, hladinu serotoninu v mozku nesnizuje ani na moment. Rozezvon zvony, které stále mohou znít/Zapomen na svou dokonalou obet/Ve všem je prasklina/Tak se dostává dovnitr svetlo - duní v jednom z mnoha klimaxu londýnského koncertu - fatální Anthem.

Koncert Leonarda Cohena je nejlepší prezentací milostné písne, jaké se muze cloveku dostat. Sází k sobe slova priléhave jako lego, ke kterému neexistuje návod. Cohenovu samozrejmost nelze vyrábet sériove. Tíha a lehkost se setkávají v hlase, se kterým nemel na výber a který slouzí jako ideální pruvodce radostí i smutkem.

Ted nebo nikdy

Pevecké schopnosti nejsou podstatné - vokální akrobacie prenechává tisícum interpretu, kterí by vrazdili, kdyby mohli jednu jedinou Cohenovu písen napsat sami. Starický sekác spíš prednáší a stojí si tak nejlíp. Svoje básne zije. Pri repetitivním dum dam dam de du dam dam v Tower Of Song prosí doprovodné zpevacky, aby neprestávaly, aby ho doprovodily pri ceste do postele a prozpívaly ránem. Práve Cohen je ale v tomhle oboru kabrnákem.

Miloval jsem te po ránu/Polibky byli hluboké a vrelé/Tvé vlasy na polštári jako ospalá zlatá boure/Mnozí uzmilovali pred námi/Vím, ze nejsme nic nového. Starickou Hey, That's No Way To Say Goodbye lze bardovi zbaštit i v jeho ctyriasedmdesáti. Priznaný sentiment je ospravedlnen podáním a nadcasovou kvalitou materiálu.

Se stylovým plsteným kloboukem, který snímá jen pri dekovackách, jakoby vypadl z Kmotra. Dojetí starého muze je víc nezuveritelné - souzní se silou zázitku. Opakované oslovování publika „prátelé" nepronáší kadencí Karla šípa, ale podtrhuje vztah, který zajištuje operný bod v neklidných casech víc nezstabilní vláda.

Vetšina skladeb je tu tak, jak zaznely i v Praze. Muzeme si zaknourat nad absencí Famous Blue Raincoat, která mu na turné tolik slušela. Bird On The Wire zase lépe padne cisté akustické bidýlko. Ale na procházce po petadvaceti k dokonalosti vypiplaných písních v duchu „ted nebo nikdy" nemá smysl hledat mouchy.

Víc nezrock'n'roll

Sama hudba je na povrchu natolik bezkonfliktní, ze svede dohromady babicky s vnuckami. U Live In London, ostatne jako u celé Cohenovy diskografie, lze srkat kafícko a ládovat se piškoty, stejne jako se zpít do nemoty.

Ovšemze laciné pozlátko preslazených cajdáku je presne na druhé strane spektra, kde dlí svet mistra Leonarda. Muze, který byl uveden do Rockn'rollové síne slávy, ackoliv s oblibou cituje kritiku ze sedmdesátých let: „Videl jsem budoucnost rokenrolu a není to Leonard Cohen."

Leonard Cohen je víc nezrock'n'roll. Jeho koncert je mší. Bezchybná kapela s dlouholetými partáky Roscoe Beckem, Neilem Larsenem nebo Javierem Masem nese neuveritelne vitálního básníka skrz jeden písnový opus magnum za druhým.

Typicky nezný doprovodný zpev s dlouholetou autorskou partnerkou Sharon Robinson v cele starého pána ctí, ale není zakriknutý. V If It Be Your Will nechá mladickým sestrám Webbovým volné pódium - pricemzsi i pres sebepovedenejší interpretaci uvedomíme, ze Cohen je nezastupitelný.

V léte vyrází na další evropské turné a uznadobro ví, ze se nemusí vracet kvuli penezum, o které ho pripravila behem prebývání „na hore" jeho manazerka. Ostatne uznekolikrát se loni snazil vysvetlit, ze zas tak bídne na tom nebyl. Motivací je mu hlavne znovurozhorivší se láska k písním.

Koncertní záznam Live In London sice obstará dost dobrou predstavu o tom, jaké to asi je s ním strávit vecer, ale krále lovesongu je nutné spatrit nazivo. Naštestí je to stále mozné.

Leonard Cohen: Live in London. délka: 2hod 30minut, vydala firma Columbia, Sony/BMG, 2009.

Hat down before masses Master Leonard

Aktuá (Czechoslovakia) by Tomáš Turek, April 6, 2009

Reviews - Nekrácený, more than dvouapulhodinový record of the last rebirth písnového Majesty is based on Leonard Cohen dvojalbu and DVD Live in London.

Cohenova concert experience is hardly portable anywhere. His presence in the room temperature and its changes lives. Fan desire to see him ever again on the stage was about nejúpenlivejší as in the living musicians can imagine. Failed him so difficult to access or Tom Waits.

Now I know that Cohenuv return was a massive concert in Prague and within the Unified Heart Touring Co.. completed dream crammed Tesla Arena - or as it is currently being unprincipled icerink appoint.

Merry stronger than religion

Previous tour to The Future album in 1993 was devastating. Before each performance vytáhnul Cohen three bottles of wine and the world krasojízde radej then fled to zenového monastery on Mount Baldy.

As the current ziváku: "It's a long time since I last stood on the London stage. It was fourteen or fifteen years ago. I was sixty - a child with a foolish dream. Since then, I took a lot of Prozac ... and I deeply studied philosophy and religion. But merriness have continued prorázet out. "

Zaplatpánbuh, wants to say - whether it concerned any faith. Cohen is sebeironický, but the song takes deadly seriously. Although it is also full of erotic desire and skepticism nespojenosti the state of affairs, the level of serotonin in the brain diminishes neither the torque. Rozezvon bells that still can read / Forget your perfect offering / In all it is crack / And the inside has a light - dunia in one of the many climax London concert - fatal Anthem.

Concert Leonard Cohen is the best presentation of love songs, what can a man get. Sází words clinging to him like lego, to which there is no instructions. Cohenovu granted can not be produced in series. The burden and ease meet in voice, which had a choice and that serves as an ideal guide to joy and sadness.

Now or never

Singing ability is not essential - vocal acrobatics leaves thousands of artists who would murder, if one could only write a song Cohenovu yourself. Chisel rather old-fashioned lectures and is the best way. Your poem is. In repetitivním dum dam dam de du dam dam in Tower Of Song Please accompanying singer to have continued to guide him on the way to bed and early prozpívaly. Recently Cohen is in this field kabrnákem.

I loved you in the morning / kisses were deep and warm / Your hair on the pillow as a sleepy golden storm / Many have loved before us / I know that we are nothing new. Old Hey, That's No Way To Say Goodbye bard can buy in the ctyriasedmdesáti. Admission sentiment is justified administration and timeless quality of the material.

With a stylish felt hat, which senses only when dekovackách as fallen from Kmotra. Emotion the old man is more than credible - the power souzní experience. Repeated reaching audience "friends" does not make cadence Karla SIPA, but underlines the relationship, which provides a foothold in the restless times more than a stable government.

Most of the tracks, there is, as voiced in Prague. Can we zaknourat the absence Famous Blue raincoat, he toured many slušela. Bird On The Wire turn fits better clean acoustic perch. But to walk the twenty-five to perfection vypiplaných songs in the spirit of "now or never" does not make sense to look for birds.

More than rock'n'roll

Music itself is so Thus, the peaceful on the surface that binds together the grandmother with granddaughter. For Live In London, moreover, as the whole Cohenovy discography, you can sip a nice cup of coffee stoke the pound cake, as well as back into dumbness.

Of course, cheap veneer preslazených cajdáku is exactly on the other side of the spectrum, where world champion Leonard lingers. Male, which was put into Rockn'rollové Halls of Fame, although like quoting criticism of the seventies: "I saw the future of rock'n'roll and it is not Leonard Cohen."

Leonard Cohen is more than rock'n'roll. His concert is the masses. Faultless band long-term partner with Roscoe Beck, Neil Larsen and Javier meat bears incredibly vitálního poet through a song magnum opus after another.

Typically gentle vocal accompanying with long-term partner of author Sharon Robinson at the head of the old man observes, but it is not sheepish. In If It Be Your Will leave mladickým sisters Webbovým free podium - with the interpretation, despite sebepovedenejší realize that Cohen is irreplaceable.

In the summer off to another European tour and have good know that may not return for the money, which it prepared the dwelling "on the mountain" his manager. Indeed it several times last year tried to explain that again so miserably that not. Motivation is it is mainly znovurozhorivší to love songs.

Concert recording Live In London has handled quite a good idea of what is about to spend the evening with him, but King lovesongu must be seen live. Fortunately, it's still possible.

Leonard Cohen: Live in London. Length: 2hod 30 minutes, Columbia issued the company, Sony / BMG, 2009


Leonard Cohen "Live In London"

VG Nett (Norway) by Morten Ståle Nilsen, March 31, 2009

Livs levende Leo. «Jeg har ikke spilt i London siden 1994», konstaterer Leonard Cohen tørt fra scenen i London i juli i fjor. «Jeg var bare en 60 ar gammel jypling med en sprø drøm».

Ha ha og, ytterligere, ho ho! Det stoiske smilet i Leonard Cohens musikk forble lenge uoppdaget. Men det har nesten alltid vært der, og det er blitt vanskeligere a ignorere det etter hvert som alderen hans er blitt høyere og visdommen dypere. Platene hans, spesielt de fra og med «Various Positions» (1985), er noe av det klokeste som kan oppdrives med trommer og kordamer attat. Og altsa: Ofte morsomme.

Sjekk DVD

Jeg ville ha sjekket ut DVD-en først. Leonard Cohen er mann for sin hatt, og en helt drøyt stilig 74-aring. Men ogsa den doble CDen er et eksellent tilskudd til de «ordentlige» platene hans. Dypt vidunderlige «If It Be Your Will» overlates til koristene, og fremstar i enda større grad som den bønnen den er, klassisk som en salme. Leo selv resiterer dog sine kanskje fineste tekstlinjer, fra «Anthem»: «Ring the bells that still can ring / Forget your perfect offering/ There is a crack in everything/That's how the light gets in».

ANBEFALTE KJøP: «Ain't No Cure For Love», «Anthem», «Tower Of Song», «The Gypsy's Wife», «If It Be Your Will»

Leonard Cohen "Live In London"

VG Nett (Norway) by Morten Ståle Nilsen, March 31, 2009

Lifeline alive Leo.

"I have not played in London since 1994," states Leonard Cohen dry from the stage in London in July last year. "I was only a 60-year-old jypling with a crazy dream."

Ha ha, and, further, ho ho! It stoiske smile in Leonard Cohens music remained long undiscovered. But it has almost always been there, and it has become harder to ignore it as his age has been higher and deeper wisdom. His plates, particularly those starting with "Various Positions" (1985), is one of the wise thing anywhere with drums and female choir attat. And thus: Often funny.

Watch DVD

I would have checked out the DVD-a first. Leonard Cohen is the man for his hats, and a completely over the stylish 74-year-old boy. But also the double CD is an excellent contribution to the "real" his plates. Deeply vidunderlige "If It Be Your Will" are left to the singers, and appears increasingly as the prayer is, as a classic hymn. Leo resiterer even though their perhaps the finest lines of text, from "Anthem": "Ring the bells that still can ring / Forget your perfect offering / There is a crack in everything / That 's how the light gets in".

RECOMMENDED PURCHASE: "Is not No Cure For Love," "Anthem," "Tower Of Song," "The Gypsy's Wife," "If It Be Your Will"


Leonard Cohen Live i London

Svenska Dagbladet (Sweden) by Harry Amster, April 3, 2009

Fascinerande att höra nya dubbel-cd-n Live in London (Sony BMG) eftersom hans röst later sa bra. Ja, jag har läst de lovordande recensionerna fran turnén nyligen, men själv minns jag hur han lät för ett par ar sedan da han totalt hade tappat rösten och det verkade oreparabelt.

Men här är han igen pa Q2 Arena i London den 17 juli 2008 och det är ju lysande med alla hitsen och en underbar version av Who by fire. Roligt mellansnack ocksa som när han konstaterar att det var 14-15 ar sedan han spelade sist:

— Jag var 60 ar gammal, en yngling med galna drömmar. Sen dess har jag tagit massor med Prozac...(räknar upp 5-6 sorter till). Jag har ocksa djupstuderat filosofi och religionerna, säger han och avslutar:

— But cheerfulness kept breaking through, medan publiken vralar och skrattar. Till slut utbrister killen som slog igenom 1967: "Excuse me for not dying".

Leonard Cohen Live In London

Svenska Dagbladet (Sweden) by Harry Amster, April 3, 2009

Fascinating to hear the new double-CD Live in London (Sony BMG) because his voice sounds so good. Yes, I have read the reviews of praise from the tour, recently, but of course I remember how he let a couple of years ago when he had lost a total voice and it seemed oreparabelt.

But here he is again in Q2 Arena in London July 17, 2008 and it is brilliant with all the hits and a wonderful version of the Who by fire. Fun between snack as when he notes that it was 14-15 years ago he played last time:

- I was 60 years old, a young man with crazy dreams. Since then, I have lots of Prozac ... (counting up to 5-6 varieties). I have also studied the deep philosophy and religions, "he concludes:

- But cheerfulness kept breaking through, while the audience yells and laughs. Finally exclaims the guy who had in 1967: "Excuse me for not dying."

Leonard Cohen

JoongAng Daily (South Korea) - April 13, 2009 by Michael Gibb

Most musicians in the pop and rock arena fade as they age, become parodies of themselves or simply an embarrassment - the Rolling Stones tick most of those categories.

But Leonard Cohen seems to grow in stature. The 73-year-old Canadian troubadour, best known for his complex exploration of religion, love and alienation, is on a roll.

The double-album "Live in London" contains classic Cohen tracks - if you're a fan, you know the ones - but the highlight is the singer's morbid wit and self-deprecating charm. He tells his adoring London crowd the last time he was in England was in the early 1990s when he was "60 years old, just a kid with a crazy dream." What's he been doing since? "Taking Prozac," he says, and studying "deeply in the philosophies and religions, but cheerfulness kept breaking through."

My album of the year, though I haven't heard the new Dylan or Neil Young offerings, which both ride with Cohen in the top 10 best sellers on

Leonard Cohen — Live In London

Treble - April 7, 2009 by Adrian Cepeda

I remember standing in the darkness of Tower Records in Lincoln Park, Chicago. We were about to close and walk out the door about four years ago, and I had just read the news that Leonard Cohen was coming out of retirement. Cohen was suing his accountant for embezzling his fund. I was so disgusted that I stopped and turned around to face my closing crew and said, "Who in the fuck would steal from Leonard Cohen?" They looked at me like I was crazy. "Whoever did is going to hell."

Four years later, because of this criminal, we are blessed in witnessing the return of a living legend. Leonard Cohen is touring again. If you're like me and can't afford to go see Mr. Cohen in concert because you're feeling the aching effects from this current financial crisis, you'll be will be happy to know that there is an alternative—a double live CD and DVD called Live in London. This may be the closest I will come to hearing or seeing Mr. Cohen on stage, but what a delight this live document is.

It's hard to believe that Mr. Cohen is 75 years old, because his voice sounds resurrected and alive in this London setting. You would think someone who has been robbed by someone he once trusted would feel some kind of animosity, but not Leonard Cohen; he has a graceful and humorous presence on stage. You can tell he's having the best time on the road during this time.

From the opening strands of "Dance Me to the End of Love," you realize that this isn't just another live album for the sake of album sales. I myself considered purchasing this concert collection, because four years later I can't believe that someone would steal from this saintly poet. Now that I have it, Live in London is one of the best live CDs I've ever had the pleasuring of owning. I have to say it's up there with Bob Marley's 1975 Live at the Lyceum, in the same setting in London. Those Londoners sure know how to appreciate the great ones.

All the old favorites from Leonard Cohen's vast and eternal canon are represented on Live in London. One of my favorites is Mr. Cohen's poetic recitation of "A Thousand Kisses." Sounding like a universal poet laureate, the way his deep voice recites this classic will send shivers throughout your musical soul. Cohen also shows the music world who originally wrote and recorded his classic "Hallelujah." Leonard brings it back home in the voice we know and have loved for all of these years. "Sisters of Mercy" soars angelically in this live setting. Speaking of angels, the Webb Sisters shine with Cohen as they take on "If It Be Your Will."

I do have a few complaints, however. Some of the backing vocals are turned up too much and at times may seem to be mixed higher than Mr. Cohen's voice. There's one too many sax solos. I would have loved to have seen and heard an all-acoustic show, but Cohen does have an awesome backing band whose arrangements equal Leonard's legendary vocal delivery.

So if you're not going to have the opportunity to go see Leonard in concert, you must go out and invest in the next best thing, this breathtaking double CD collection, Live in London. Just hearing Cohen's voice coming out of your headphones will soothe and inspire you as it makes your year. Powerful and poetic, Leonard Cohen returns, and we all are witnesses. Don't you dare miss out.


Cohen, Wonder & co. icone in dvd

Il Secolo XIX (Italy) by Chiara Meattelli, April 7, 2009

Rock e black music? Da lezioni all'università. Da biblioteca di Babele della nostra coscienza, su un nastro di musica e parole che si scioglie e si srotola da mezzo secolo. Dal concerto del luglio scorso di Leonard Cohen alla O2 Arena di Londra allo show di Stevie Wonder, "Music At Last", passando per il Vasco Rossi delle iperbole in "Il mondo che vorrei live", sembra che tutta la storia di emozioni e buoni propositi, ma anche di aspre battaglie culturali e politiche, raccontata sin qui dalla musica abbia per libreria assoluta il dvd. Non è una novità che la musica live, e non solo, trovi rifugio in questo supporto tecnologico, ma è la qualità di un Cohen piuttosto che dei Wilco, band americana all'altra parte del suo universo artistico, ammirevole il loro "Ashes of American Flags", a raccontare una storia universale della musica rock.

"Live in London" di Leonard Cohen, non è solo la testimonianza di un concerto dal vivo ma è piuttosto il ritratto musicale di uno dei cantautori più importanti del nostro tempo. Nonostante i suoi 73 anni, oggi ne ha uno in più, nel 2008 il cantautore canadese ha viaggiato da un lato all'altro del pianeta, offrendo quasi tre ore di concerto a un pubblico che ha assicurato ovunque il tutto esaurito, accogliendolo con ripetute standing ovation. In completo gessato scuro e Borsalino in testa, Cohen non si limita a ripercorrere i brani dell'intera carriera ma propone una nuova, singolare esistenza a ciascun spettatore.

Con o senza chitarra, raccolto in ginocchio o dritto in piedi, il cantautore enfatizza con rinnovata forza ogni testo delle sue ballate, a volte persino modificandolo per coinvolgere in prima persona un pubblico ipnotizzato. L'inaspettato ritorno in scena segna l'ultimo traguardo di un percorso artistico iniziato a poco più di vent'anni, quando Cohen pubblica la prima raccolta di poesie, nella sua Montreal. Non a caso si è sempre sentito più a suo agio con l'identità di poeta che con quella di cantante, maggiormente adatta al suono basso e profondo della sua voce. Dopotutto è anche perché ha sempre avuto qualcosa di interessante da dire che la sua musica si tramanda di generazione in generazione, da più di quarant'anni.

Cohen riesce a sintetizzare in poesia le sue visioni più intime su ciò che ci sta più a cuore: amore, religione, società, potere, spiritualità, sesso, futuro. E lo fa con analisi attuali, acute, spesso segnate da umore nero e un forte senso di autoironia. «è passato molto tempo da quando mi sono esibito da queste parti, allora ero un ragazzino di 60 anni con un folle sogno in testa» scherza col pubblico londinese, prima di elencare senza vergogna la lunga lista di antidepressivi dei quali è stato dipendente per anni. «Mi sono anche immerso in profondi studi religiosi e filosofici» spiega ancora alla platea «poi però la gioia di vivere continuava a irrompere».

Forse il segreto dei suoi versi sta proprio in quell'ottimismo di fondo che emerge solo dopo avere attraversato gli abissi più scuri dell'esistenza. Come su "Anthem" in cui canta: "C'è una falla, una crepa in tutto, è cosî che la luce può entrare", segnando uno dei momenti più alti dello show. Speciale anche l'interpretazione di "Hallelujah", quando torna ad appropriarsi di un grande successo dopo averlo "prestato" a circa centocinquanta altri musicisti, inclusi Bono Vox e Bob Dylan. Poco importa se i motivi dietro il suo ritorno sono dettati da pura necessità economica. Il suo patrimonio milionario è stato sperperato dalla manager Kelly Lynch nei cinque anni in cui il cantautore si era ritirato in un monastero buddista in California, dove lo chiamavano Jikan, il Silenzio.

Con il concerto alla O2 Arena, Leonard Cohen riesce non solo ad abbattere ogni gap generazionale fra il suo pubblico ma anche a creare una rara atmosfera di intimità, missione difficile considerando i ventimila presenti. Cosî recita i versi di "A Thousand Kisses Deep", con l'accompagnamento leggero della tastiera di Neil Larsen sopra il silenzio assoluto del pubblico. Impeccabili anche gli altri sette musicisti sul palco, più volte presentati e ringraziati durante lo spettacolo da Cohen, cosciente che, senza di loro, il suo ritorno non sarebbe stato altrettanto perfetto. Poi ancora i vecchi successi da"Suzanne", tradotta e cantata in italiano da Fabrizio De Andrè, a "So Long Marianne", "Hey That's no Way to Say Goodbye" e "Tower of Song". Il 2008 ha segnato anche l'anno in cui il cantautore di Montreal è entrato nella Rock'n'roll Hall of Fame, con Lou Reed che lo insigniva del riconoscimento dicendo: «Siamo fortunati a vivere lo stesso tempo di Leonard Cohen». Un pensiero condiviso anche da chi, quella sera del 17 luglio, lo ha visto lasciare l'arena londinese saltellando nemmeno fosse un ragazzino.

Cohen, Wonder & co. Icons on DVD

Il Secolo XIX (Italy) by Chiara Meattelli, April 7, 2009


Leonard Cohen regresa por partida doble

ABC (Spain), March 31, 2009

* * * * (4 out of 5 stars)

Después de quince añ os sin pisar un escenario, Leonard Cohen ofreció el añ o pasado una gira mundial en la que repasó las canciones más emblemáticas de su larga carrera, un recorrido que ha quedado recogido en un DVD que, acompañ ado de dos CD, llegan hoy al mercado.

El regreso a los escenarios del artista canadiense se produjo tras dos momentos especialmente significativos en su vida: una estancia de cinco añ os, de 1994 a 1999, en un monasterio zen californiano, un retiro al que, en el 2005, sucedió una sonada estafa por parte de su ex representante y amante esporádica, Kelly Lynch.

Lynch, según explica Sony en la nota de lanzamiento del álbum, "se llevó más de cinco millones de dólares que el artista guardaba para su retiro, dejándole sólo 150.000 dólares en su cuenta bancaria", algo que, quizá, animó a Leonard Cohen a volver a los escenarios.

Acontecimiento cultural de dimensiones bíblicasEl 17 de julio de 2008 en el 02 Arena de Londres dio comienzo esta gira de 84 conciertos a los que asistieron más de 700.000 personas. Su primera cita, en la capital británica, ha quedado grabada en el DVD "Live in London", que hoy sale a la venta junto a dos CD'S, para inmortalizar una actuación que los periódicos describieron como "un acontecimiento cultural de dimensiones bíblicas", en palabras del crítico de The Independent.

"Suzanne", "Dance me to the end of love", "Sisters of mercy", "Hallelujah", "Bird on the wire", "Everybody Knows" o "Ain't no cure for love", son algunas de las 26 canciones que forman parte de este "Live in London" para repasar la carrera de este artista de 72 añ os que, en los once discos y once libros de poesía y prosa publicados a lo largo de su vida, ha marcado un camino propio y dejado canciones que se han convertido en clásicos de la música de autor.

En esta gira Leonard Cohen estuvo acompañ ado por el españ ol Xavier Más a la bandurria, laúd, archilaúd y guitarra de doce cuerdas, y los músicos Roscoe Beck, Rafael Bernardo Gayol, Neil Larsen, Bob Metzger, Sharon Robinson, Dino Soldo, Charley Webb y Hattie Webb, todo un mundo acústico para acompañ ar la inconfundible voz de Cohen.

Leonard Cohen is back for double

ABC (Spain), March 31, 2009


Leonard Cohen - Live in London

Humo (Belgium) - April 10, 2009

* * * * (4 stars)

Zelden zo'n mooi, ontroerend en ons voor een paar uur weer met de mensheid verzoenend optreden meegemaakt als vorig jaar oktober, toen de 74-jarige Leonard Cohen voor twee 'afscheids'concerten in Vorst Nationaal neerstreek. (Begin juli was zijn passage in het Minnewaterpark in Brugge in een mum van tijd uitverkocht, vandaar de toegiften in het najaar.) Binnenkort komt er nóg een optreden bij, op zaterdag 4 juli in het Sportpaleis in Antwerpen. Laat de - mogelijk laatste - kans om het concert van uw leven bij te wonen niet schieten!

Wie er in juli of oktober bij was, heeft aan 'Live in London' een prachtig souvenir; voor wie nog niet gereserveerd heeft, is deze dubbel-cd hopelijk een aansporing. Het was opmerkelijk hoe Cohen, zijn negenkoppige band (inclusief drie goddelijke backingzangeressen) en de geluidstechnici in het anders zo kille Vorst de klank perfect afgesteld kregen - ze beloven dezelfde krachttoer in het Sportpaleis - en zo zuiver en helder klinken de luisterliedjes ook onder de koepel van de enorme Londense O2 Arena (20.000 stoelen), waar de show vorige zomer werd geregistreerd.

Van de setlist tot en met de vermakelijke bon mots tussendoor lijkt alles vooraf minutieus doorgenomen en getimed, maar dat zit de spontaniteit nergens in de weg. Every inch a gentleman stelt Cohen zich ten dienste van zijn muzikanten en van het publiek, en hij krijgt er per kerende een hoop genegenheid voor terug. Die magie was tástbaar in Vorst, en op 'Live in London' is dat twee├źnhalf uur lang niet anders. Wonderlijk!

'It's been a long time since I stood on a stage in London, it was about 14 or 15 years ago. I was 60 years old then - just a kid with a crazy dream'. Leonard Cohen heeft het eeuwige leven. Dream on, kid.

Leonard Cohen - Live in London

Humo (Belgium) - April 10, 2009

* * * * (4 stars)

Rare so nice, and touching us for a few hours again humanity conciliatory action seen as last October, when the 74-year-old Leonard Cohen for two afscheids'concerten down in National Forest region. (Beginning of July was his passage in the Minnewaterpark in Bruges in no time sold out, hence the encore in autumn.) Soon there will be n? G action, upon Saturday, July 4 at the Sportpaleis in Antwerp. Let the - possibly last - chance for the concert of your life to live not shoot!

Who is in July or October was to have to 'Live in London "a wonderful gift for those who have not booked, this double CD hopefully an incentive. It was remarkable how Cohen, nine piece band (including three divine backing singers) and the sound technicians in the otherwise so cold Vorst sound were perfectly - they promise the same gimmick in Sports - and so pure and clear sound listening songs under the dome of the massive London O2 Arena (20,000 seats), where the show was recorded last summer.

From the setlist and the amusing bon mots between all seems pre-planned and timed by the minute, but the spontaneity is not in the road. Every inch a gentleman Cohen proposes to serve its musicians and the public, and he gets a return of a lot of affection in return. That magic was it? Stbaar in Forest, and "Live in London 'is that two? Nhalf hour otherwise. Wonder!

"It's been a long time since I stöd on a stage in London, it was about 14 or 15 years ago. I was 60 years old then - just a kid with a crazy dream. " Leonard Cohen has eternal life. Dream on, kid.


LEONARD COHEN - "Live In London"

PiacenzaSera (Italy) - April 11, 2009 by Giovanni Battista Menzani

Good news dal Canada.

Un paese spesso dipinto come pigro e sonnolento, ma che in ambito rock da sempre ci regala grandi soddisfazioni: negli ultimi tempi Arcade Fire e Goodspeed You Black Emperor, oppure il recentissimo ottimo debutto dei Bruce Peninsula (e pensare che quei piccoli bastardi di South Park volevano dichiarargli guerra per colpa di Bryan Adams...)

A pochi giorni di distanza dall'uscita del nuovo album di Neil "Cavallo Pazzo" Young — recensito qui su PiacenzaSera da Tony Face — ecco anche il "Live in London" di Leonard Cohen, registrato durante la trionfale serata dello scorso 17 luglio all'Arena O2.

Si trattava del suo ritorno sulle scene, dopo un'assenza durata quindici anni, e incredibilmente ritroviamo un Cohen in splendida forma — cosa davvero sorprendente, dal momento che egli ha qualcosa come 74 anni.

Il grande cantautore canadese, elegantissimo nel suo doppiopetto gessato con cappello di feltro, non si risparmia affatto e dispensa al suo pubblico oltre due ore e mezzo di musica di classe sopraffina (al modico prezzo di Euro 19,99, quando si dice cosa si deve fare per risollevare il mercato discografico...)

Nel ripercorrere più di 40 anni di carriera, lo aiutano nell'impresa una band assai collaudata — spiccano Dino Soldo ai fiati/armonica e Javier Mas a banjo/mandolino — e uno strepitoso coro di voci femminili.

Come spesso accade, la scaletta non ci può soddisfare al 100%: a nostro giudizio mancano all'appello pezzi irrinunciabili quali, ad esempio, "Avalanche" (di cui è nota anche una cover di Nick Cave), "Chelsea Hotel No. 2" dedicata al suo fugace incontro amoroso con Janis Joplin nell'albergo più rock di New York City, "The Partisan", "Seems So Long Ago, Nancy" (tra le tante del nostro tradotte in italiano da Fabrizio De Andrè, suo grande estimatore) e "Famous Blue Raincoat".

Tuttavia, non mancano sia i classici come "Suzanne", "Sister Of Mercy" ,"So Long, Marianne" e "Hey That's No Way To Say Goodbye" (resa celebre dallo spot della BMW), dall'album di debutto del 1967, oppure "Bird On The Wire" e "Hallelujah" (memorabile la versione di Jeff Buckley e poi anche saccheggiata dallo X-Factor inglese), sia il meglio della produzione più recente: qui la parte del leone la fa l'album "I'm Your Man" ('88) dal quale vengono estrapolati ben 6 brani, tra i quali "First We Take Manhattan" (ricordo una notevole cover dei R.E.M.) e "Tower Of Song".

Nessun brano invece dall'ultimo album di studio, non irresistibile, "Dear Heather" (2004).

In ogni caso, nella sequenza dei brani nulla è lasciato al caso: per il finale ecco "Closing Time" (è tempo di chiudere) e il bis — prima di salutare con un canto preso in prestito dal Vecchio Testamento — è "I Tried To Leave You", un bellissimo standard blues durante il quale Cohen presenta al pubblico — uno alla volta - tutti i musicisti che lo accompagnano, proprio come si faceva una volta. Gran signore, Cohen.

LEONARD COHEN - "Live In London"

PiacenzaSera (Italy) - April 11, 2009 by Giovanni Battista Menzani

Leonard Cohen - LIVE IN LONDON

The Advocate and WBRZ News 2 (Baton Rouge, LA) - April 10, 2009 by John Wirt

Though he was a late-blooming singer-songwriter, Canadian novelist and poet, Leonard Cohen made major impact with his 1967 debut, The Songs of Leonard Cohen. Far from being a baby-faced '60s teen star, the 33-year-old Cohen had recently made his debut at the Newport Folk Festival. His song, "Suzanne," had already been popularized by Judy Collins and British singer-actor Noel Harrison.

Cohen's own otherworldly take on "Suzanne," a gentle, sad cocktail of mysticism and banality, opened his album debut, which featured at least three more future classics, "Sisters of Mercy," "Hey, That's No Way To Say Goodbye" and the record's closest thing to a pop tune, "So Long, Marianne."

All of the latter songs appear on the now 74-year-old Cohen's Live In London, recorded last July during his British and European tours. The audience at London's O2 Arena clearly reveres the artist, the man, the legend. Cohen, in turn, continuously expresses gratitude for his audience's affection.

The Live In London CD performances are close and warm, as if Cohen turned the vast arena into an intimate coffeehouse. Although time has lowered his voice to a husky baritone, the performances are faithful to recordings made decades ago. What's more, the songwriter-poet's lyrics are as timeless as ever. Pain, strife and destruction, be they between a man and woman or opposing nations, haven't gone away. "Everybody knows that the plague is coming," Cohen sings. "Everybody knows it's moving fast."

Of course, "Hallelujah," famously interpreted by Jeff Buckley and recently sent to the top of the British charts by Alexandra Burke, is here. Given a soul-ballad treatment, it's placed about midway through a beautifully performed and assembled 26-song set list.

Cohen's best on Live in London album

Belleville Intelligencer (Ontario, Canada) - April 11, 2009 by David Reed

Leonard Cohen was 40 years old when I was born, in 1975. He was 33 when he released his first album. At the age of 74, Cohen is just as vital and engaging as he was three or four decades ago. His songs are part of our national consciousness, and all of Cohen's timeless favourites are all included in this live set. There are songs of love and longing, songs of Biblical tales, and warnings of coming apocalypse.

Leonard Cohen is known as a gifted poet, novelist, songwriter and singer. He has been inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame, the American Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and he is a Companion of the Order of Canada -- the nation's highest civilian honour.

Live in London was recorded on July 17, 2008 at London, England's O2 Arena. The album serves as a teaser of what to expect from Cohen's spring/summer 2009 tour. Between song banter is clever and pointed, but at times humourous. At one point he refers to his last tour in 1994 as "back when I was just a 60-year old kid with a crazy dream."

Throughout the twenty-five song concert, Cohen introduces and credits his stellar nine-piece band, graciously sharing the spotlight with the talented group repeatedly. Bob Metzger provides particularly enticing lead guitar work and the four-part backing vocals add a striking depth and colour to the songs.

An entire generation who believes that Rufus Wainwright wrote the song Hallelujah for the movie Shrek should be re-educated by the gut-wrenching and utterly compelling performance of Cohen's masterpiece, Hallelujah. Other outstanding covers including those by Jeff Buckley, k. d. lang and Willie Nelson all pale by comparison to the raw emotional intensity of Cohen's performance.

Other standout tracks include the hits I'm Your Man, Bird On A Wire, Ain't No Cure for Love, Everybody Knows, Tower of Song, Suzanne and a chilling performance of Sisters Of Mercy. Beyond the obvious hits that most listeners would know, others stand out like his 2001 song My Secret Life and a disturbing version of First We Take Manhattan, told from the perspective of an insane narrator and prominently featuring Sharon Robinson in a duet with Cohen.

The concert has been released on a two-CD set and also on DVD. The thrill of watching the performance adds a special lustre to the event. I recommend that listeners grab both the DVD and the CDs. Every Canadian should own them.

Leonard Cohen performs 12 Canadian dates this spring, including a show at the K-Rock Centre in Kingston on May 22. Let us hope that this tour is not a victory lap for the iconic artist, but rather the beginning of his next chapter.

Leonard Cohen — Live In London

CHARTattack - April 7, 2009 by Kate Harper

* * * * (4 "stars" out of 5)

I have this theory that absolutely no rules apply to Leonard Cohen simply by virtue of his being Leonard Cohen. The man gets away with everything, and that theory is perfectly exemplified on Live At London, which was recorded for CD and DVD during his show at London, England's O2 Arena on July 17, 2008.

It would be quite hard for anyone else (save Chuck Berry) to tour in their seventies or eighties. There's a good chance anyone else's voice would have deteriorated by now, but not Cohen's. He still manages to belt it out and, though his delivery might come across a bit monotone, it's obviously intentional. He's perfectly able to hit all the notes in the high bits on "Hallelujah" and many of his other memorable songs. He can also do it for three hours.

If anyone else were to write songs with lyrics so steeped in sex, love and longing (take "I'm Your Man," for instance), they'd be considered a bona fide sleaze. There are and were plenty of hair metal bands that do this, and they're considered skuzzy and gross — except to their fans, of course. Cohen escapes this tag because his lyrics are poetry, and we all know bards like Shakespeare and Byron had plenty of dirty sonnets up their sleeves.

Live At London manages to show that Cohen's poetry, music and the man himself are still relevant more than 50 years after he released his first book of poetry and over 40 years after his first album came out. While most aging rockers have become self-parodies, that Cohen is still graceful on stage represents that he's a man who seems to not only have defied age, but every single rule as well. He's as timeless as his music.

Music DVD Review: Leonard Cohen - Leonard Cohen Live In London

Blog Critics - April 8, 2009 by Richard Marcus

I have to admit the first time I head Leonard Cohen I didn't get it. Of course I was all of thirteen years old at the time and was much more into electric guitars and noise than the quiet introspection Leonard had to offer. Thankfully, I matured and learned there was more to life than I had previously thought and his music and poetry started to make much sense to me. Since then I have dipped into his work periodically, and like a warm bath that eases aching muscles, its always been a much needed balm to my soul.

So when I heard that Sony Music was releasing a DVD of Cohen's most recent tour I was thrilled, for even though I'll be seeing him in concert next month (May 2009), having a permanent record of the event that I can access whenever I need rejuvenation was just too good an opportunity to pass up. If Leonard Cohen Live In London managed to capture a small percentage of what the man has to offer as a poet and a performer I would have been content. As it is, I don't think I've ever seen a concert movie capture the essence of a performer and their material as completely as this one did with Leonard Cohen.

From the moment Cohen bounded on stage (it's hard to believe he's seventy-five years old) to the closing notes of the finale twenty-five songs later, I've never felt closer to a performer while watching him or her on film as I did during this DVD. With the improvements in technology it's nothing new for cameras to be up on stage with the performers capturing the most intimate details of their performance as was the case with this recording. However, whereas in the past it's always felt as if there was a barrier between me and the performers no matter how close the cameras were able to shoot, this time it felt like Cohen and his band members would turn and address you personally at any moment.

Of course a great deal of that sensation was created by Cohen himself. Not once did I have the feeling that he was performing with a capital "P", or was anybody but who he is all the time. How often have you seen someone screw up their face or contort their body while performing as an indication that they are in the throws of some emotional turmoil? There's no such histrionics in Cohen's performance. Instead, we are treated to the sight of someone allowing their material to speak for itself. If a song's tempo increased, or his voice rose in volume, it always felt as though there was no other way for it to be presented. It was if he and his band were merely the conduit which allowed the needs of the material to be met, and they were secondary to the performance.

The concert has something for every generation of Cohen fans as it includes songs dating back as far as "Suzanne" from Songs Of Leonard Cohen (1967) through to "In My Secret Life" from Ten New Songs (2001) and stops in every decade in between. While of course there will be some disappointment at favourite songs being left out of the set list ("Famous Blue Raincoat" and "Joan of Arc" are two I missed most), its a remarkably satisfying retrospective of Cohen's career. Even better was the fact that Cohen and his band found ways to bring new life to the old material, like "So Long Marianne" and "Sisters Of Mercy", but without sacrificing anything of what made them special to begin with. As a result this isn't an attempt by an old performer to capture some of his former glory by cashing in on people's nostalgia for his former hits. Instead its like an art exhibit that gives viewers the opportunity to appreciate the body of work that an artist produced during his lifetime. The only difference being this artist is still alive and able to go back and touch up any of his masterpieces that otherwise might not have stood the test of time.

Cohen's work has always seemed more sophisticated than your average folk song and called out for more than just simple guitar accompaniment. On the other hand there has to be a delicate balance struck in order to ensure the music never overwhelms either the lyrics or Cohen's voice. Under the direction of musical director and basest Roscoe Beck the band featuring; Rafael Bernardo Gayol (drums & percussion), Neil Larsen (keyboards), Javier Mas (banduria, laud, archilaud, & twelve string guitar), Bob Metzger (lead guitar & pedal steel), Dino Soldo (wind instruments, harmonica, & keyboard), and background vocalists Sharon Robinson, Charley Webb, and Hattie Webb, couldn't have done a better job. Not only were each of them capable of individual virtuosity when called upon (Javier Mas' playing will make you weep), even when they soloed it never felt like they were putting themselves ahead of the material.

As for the man himself, he still has more personality and charisma in his little finger than any of the twenty-something pop stars on the charts could ever dream of. Not only did he bound on stage at the opening, but he came running back on for his second encore nearly three hours later. Cohen simply standing centre stage holding his microphone and singing exudes more energy than most others at their most frenetic, while his elegance and style redefine the word dapper.

Cohen's voice, that some call limited, is revealed as the perfect instrument for his material. Eloquent, without being grandiose or flashy, each word and phrase is carefully enunciated so the listener doesn't miss anything. Anyone who might have thought of Cohen's voice as monotone will be quickly disabused of that notion after seeing this performance as he shows an amazing ability to communicate emotions with only the slightest vocal inflection. Perhaps that's where any misconceptions about his voice arose in the past, as he doesn't need to resort to the cheap melodrama that others do in order to express himself.

Needless to say the sound and visuals on the disc are superlative with the camera work in specific being remarkable for the way it's able to create a sense of intimacy in spite of the size of the space where the performance was filmed and the number of people on stage. While there aren't any special features included with disc, they have included the lyrics to every song sung during the show.

Leonard Cohen Live In London is a brilliant concert film featuring one of the most erudite and intelligent performers to ever grace a pop music stage. This is Leonard Cohen at his best, and Leonard Cohen at his best is miles beyond anything that anyone else can even dream of accomplishing.

Album Reviews: Live in London by Leonard Cohen

Artist Direct - April 8, 2009 by Adam McKibbin

* * * * (4 stars out of 5)

Bilked out of millions by his former manager and lover, Leonard Cohen found himself in a place that's common in these recession-wracked times, albeit one from which stardom typically protects: finding bare cupboards instead of saving accounts. Cohen long ago rode off into a reclusive retirement, living amongst mountains and monks. The way to make a quick buck may have seemed obvious to fans, but he was reluctant—not only for the reasons he originally abandoned the road, but also because he wasn't sure that the audience would still be there.

Now still in the midst of a massive tour—his first in a decade and a half—Cohen has received a resounded confirmation from his fans: they have been waiting for him all along. He, in turn, has validated the adoration with generous, catalog-spanning shows. The root of Cohen's return may have been involuntary misfortune, but he's flipped the script and made it a triumphant, joyful reunion on Live In London. The double-disc live album catches up with the legend after a lengthy sweep through Europe and his native Canada; by this point in the tour, whatever rust may have lingered has been stripped away. Cohen's collaborators are split between old (including co-writer and vocalist Sharon Robinson and band director Roscoe Beck) and new (multi-instrumentalist Javier Mas, UK folk duo The Webb Sisters). Even if those names are unfamiliar to the listener going in, they will be ingrained by the end of the 26-song set, as Cohen never misses an opportunity to graciously salute a soloist by name.

Cohen leads the band through jovial renditions that patiently span six or seven minutes, interspersed with deliciously droll banter (in describing his last, long-ago appearance on a London stage, he refers to being "60 years old, just a kid with a crazy dream"). Older songs receive transformations, not least due to Cohen's weathered voice, but also because of flourishes like the archilaud solo (from Mas) that begins "Who By Fire." These early gems are treated respectfully, though, so that fans who have been dreaming of a live rendition of "Hey, That's No Way To Say Goodbye" or "Suzanne" are able to walk away smiling, even though there's no way for them to sound as they did when a young, pre-baritone Cohen committed them to record in the late '60s. The larger scope of mid-career tracks like 1985's "Dance Me To The End of Love" and 1988's "Everybody Knows" sound better than ever in this context.

With great singers, the cliché is that they could sing the phone book and make it sound compelling. With Cohen, perhaps it's more the case that he could scrawl a note in the margins of a phone book and still have it read as poetry. He's one of the great lyricists of the last century, and given that the Live In London setlist draws heavily from his best work, the timeless lines seem to fall one after the other. Even when the music fades into the distant background on "Recitation," Cohen has no problem keeping the audience's attention. "I'm good at love, I'm good at hate," he confides in his aged, graveled baritone. "It's in between I freeze."

CD Review: Leonard Cohen, "Live in London"

PopDose - April 8, 2009 by Ken Shane

The definition of "cool" is a very amorphous thing. Basically, it depends on who's doing the defining. One thing that a lot of people agree on these days is that Leonard Cohen is cool, and there is nothing in this new live CD set to suggest otherwise. Live in London (Columbia) comes to us from a July 17, 2008 concert that took place at that city's O2 arena. The then 73-year-old Cohen clearly beguiled his British audience, and that effect is not lost in the transition to the recorded medium. Blessed with a sartorially and musically resplendent band, and armed with a bushel of great songs from his 40-plus year career, Cohen could have hardly gone wrong, and he doesn't. The first thing that strikes you is, of course, that voice. Deep as the depths of night, tender when it's called for, edgy when required by the material, it is the perfect vehicle for these grand songs which have nobly stood the test of time. As Cohen writes in "Tower of Song," "I was born like this / I had no choice / I was born with the gift of a golden voice..."

To call Cohen's band tasteful would be something of an understatement. As I listened to their sympathetic accompaniment, I was reminded in some ways of Steely Dan in the sense of the way that the deceptively smooth music masked the darkness of the lyrics. These musicians clearly understand that their role is not to stand out individually, but to make Cohen stand out by playing collectively. That said, Cohen recognizes their contribution by name-checking them at various points in the set. One musician who really does shine is Javier Mas. He plays a variety of stringed instruments, and each of his solos is brilliantly considered. Keyboard player Neil Larsen and guitarist Bob Metzger also have some nice moments.

Though the performance is filled with classics from various eras of Cohen's career, there can be little doubt that the real standout is his reading of his often-covered gem "Hallelujah," which features a brilliant arrangement, and a passionate performance from Cohen. Other standouts are the insane proclamations of "First We Take Manhattan," and "Suzanne," originally written as a poem about the wife of a friend, and perhaps the first song to bring Cohen to public attention as a songwriter, in my case through a beautiful cover version by Judy Collins.

Cohen is in good spirits throughout, charming, and self-deprecating. He delights the audience when he recounts that the last time he stood on a London stage, in 1994, he was "just a 60-year-old kid with a crazy dream." There is a reason why Leonard Cohen is one of the most respected musicians in the world among his peers, and it's on full display here. Acolytes like U2 and REM sing his praises, and with good reason. He is a poet in every sense of the word, weaving together indelible images into a beautiful, and sometimes troubling tapestry. If you haven't become a believer yet, this is a great place to jump in.

When you look up "cool" in the dictionary, there's a picture of Leonard Cohen there.

Leonard Cohen - Live in London

MOG - April 7, 2009 by Adrian Ernesto Cepeda

I remember standing in the darkness of Tower Records in Lincoln Park, Chicago. We were about to close and walk out the door about four years ago, and I had just read the news that Leonard Cohen was coming out of retirement. Cohen was suing his accountant for embezzling his funds. I was so disgusted that I stopped and turned around to face my closing crew and said, "Who in the fuck would steal from Leonard Cohen?" They looked at me like I was crazy. "Whoever did is going to hell."

Four years later, because of this criminal, we are blessed in witnessing the return of a living legend. Leonard Cohen is touring again. If you're like me and can't afford to go see Mr. Cohen in concert because you're feeling the aching effects from this current financial crisis, you'll be will be happy to know that there is an alternative—a double live CD and DVD called Live in London. This may be the closest I will come to hearing or seeing Mr. Cohen on stage, but what a delight this live document is.

It's hard to believe that Mr. Cohen is 75 years old, because his voice sounds resurrected and alive in this London setting. You would think someone who has been robbed by someone he once trusted would feel some kind of animosity, but not Leonard Cohen; he has a graceful and humorous presence on stage. You can tell he's having the best time on the road during this time.

From the opening strands of "Dance Me to the End of Love," you realize that this isn't just another live album for the sake of album sales. I myself considered purchasing this concert collection, because four years later I can't believe that someone would steal from this saintly poet. Now that I have it, Live in London is one of the best live CDs I've ever had the pleasuring of owning. I have to say it's up there with Bob Marley's 1975 Live at the Lyceum, in the same setting in London. Those Londoners sure know how to appreciate the great ones.

All the old favorites from Leonard Cohen's vast and eternal canon are represented on Live in London. One of my favorites is Mr. Cohen's poetic recitation of "A Thousand Kisses." Sounding like a universal poet laureate, the way his deep voice recites this classic will send shivers throughout your musical soul. Cohen also shows the music world who originally wrote and recorded his classic "Hallelujah." Leonard brings it back home in the voice we know and have loved for all of these years. "Sisters of Mercy" soars angelically in this live setting. Speaking of angels, the Webb Sisters shine with Cohen as they take on "If It Be Your Will."

I do have a few complaints, however. Some of the backing vocals are turned up too much and at times may seem to be mixed higher than Mr. Cohen's voice. There's one too many sax solos. I would have loved to have seen and heard an all-acoustic show, but Cohen does have an awesome backing band whose arrangements equal Leonard's legendary vocal delivery.

So if you're not going to have the opportunity to go see Leonard in concert, you must go out and invest in the next best thing, this breathtaking double CD collection, Live in London. Just hearing Cohen's voice coming out of your headphones will soothe and inspire you as it makes your year. Powerful and poetic, Leonard Cohen returns, and we all are witnesses. Don't you dare miss out.

Pop Top: Leonard Cohen delivers tower of song

The Salt Lake Tribune - April 3, 2009 by David Burger

Grade: A-

CD/DVD » Leonard Cohen's "Live in London" was recorded after a 15-year absence from touring, and it's an absorbing treasure, especially since the 74-year-old Canadian poet-singer is skipping Salt Lake City on his spring tour. His raspy baritone has grown deeper, which adds a world-weary, but still wryly witty, wisdom to a man aware of not only his own mortality and needs. The delicate arrangements never overwhelm the melodies or Cohen's barbed prophecies, making him as relevant as ever.


Uncut - April 6, 2009 by John Mulvey

Rating: * * * * (4 stars)

Hey, that's the way to say goodbye. One classic gig, on two CDs

When The Songs Of Leonard Cohen arrived in record shops just after Christmas, 1967, its creator was already 33 years old — an unusual age to be releasing a debut album. But the patina of experience was critical to Cohen's appeal. Here was a singer — no, a poet — who could write about the usual stuff, chiefly girls — well, women — with a rueful and weathered maturity far beyond the range of his younger contemporaries.

It was a good trick then, and it remains so four decades later, as Leonard Cohen continues his extraordinary comeback tour. While the likes of The Rolling Stones tackle the songs of their youth in an absurd if bracing defiance of age, and Bob Dylan and Neil Young often seem to have an ambiguous, sometimes fraught, relationship to their back catalogues, Cohen has no comparable problems. The older he becomes, the better he inhabits many of these uncannily graceful and profound songs.

Consequently, Live In London is much more than a souvenir of a memorable show at the O2 Arena in July 2008. It showcases a (then) 73-year-old singer with still-growing wisdom and an ever-deepening voice, who now brings an even greater gravity to songs that were hardly bubblegum in the first place.

Take "Who By Fire". It'd be risky to claim that this live reading is a more definitive version than the original on 1974's New Skin For The Old Ceremony. But the incantatory resonance of Cohen's baritone, the way it is underpinned so delicately by the female vocals, Javier Mas' lute-like archilaúd and Neil Larsen's Hammond B3, make it sound more like sacred music than a folk singer's appropriation of sacred music, band introductions notwithstanding. An enterprising film director would do well to cast this Cohen as the voice of a god — if Cohen could reconcile the complexities of his own beliefs to accept such a frivolous gig.

Then again, as Live In London proves, Leonard Cohen is a covertly frivolous man. If he has been stereotyped for 20, 30, 40 years as the laureate of misery, these shows have redefined him as more of a droll old charmer, not averse to satirising himself.

"It's been a long time since I stood on the stage in London," he intones wryly before "Ain't No Cure For Love". "It was about 14 or 15 years ago. I was 60 years old, just a kid with a crazy dream. Since then I've taken a lot of Prozac, Paxil, Welbutrin, Effexor, Ritalin, Focalin. I've also studied deeply in the philosophies and religions, but cheerfulness kept breaking through."

He says more or less the same every night, but the crafted wit is well worth repeating. Rehearsal does not preclude warmth, and the three months of preparation that Cohen and the band went through before the tour began last spring — down to the ad libs, perhaps — is one good reason why Live In London has more in common with a measured studio album than most live sets.

Spontaneity isn't necessary here. Instead, meticulous control is crucial to the potency of these 25 songs, particularly in the marvellous sequence that closes the first half of the concert, running through "Who By Fire" and "Hey, That's No Way To Say Goodbye" to a broadly celestial "Anthem".

These are not complete reinventions: the musical director, Roscoe Beck, was imbuing Cohen's songs with the same stately pacing, with similar Mediterranean fringes, as far back as 1988, judging by the Cohen Live album released in 1994. Now, though, there's a shade more discretion to Bob Metzger's guitar playing, and fewer cruise liner flourishes from Dino Soldo on the "instruments of wind". Javier Mas, the Spanish guitarist, is an obvious star, but as the whole band take compact, jewel-like solos during "I Tried To Leave You", it's hard to spot a weak link.

Cohen himself, of course, may be more reliable these days, having lost his old habit of drinking three bottles of wine before a show. He has a clutch of relatively new songs, too, with two from 2001's underrated Ten New Songs included in the London show, plus a stirring recitation of verses from "A Thousand Kisses Deep" that didn't make the original recording. A meditation on love, memory, mortality and related topics, it's an apposite highlight, not least when Cohen intones, "I'm still working with the wine, still dancing cheek to cheek/The band is playing 'Auld Lang Syne', but the heart will not retreat."

It captures a man forced back on to the road by financial exigency — back to "Boogie Street", he might say — only to discover that something else is driving him onwards. Perhaps that something, Cohen realised, is a chance to achieve a resolution of sorts, with both his art and with his fans. An uncommonly thoughtful victory lap, which deserves — and has received — a handsome recorded memorial.

Leonard Cohen - Live in London

Spectrum Culture - April 4, 2009 by Neal Fersko

Rating: 3.5

Nope. This is not the review where someone makes the brave but foolhardy stance against Leonard Cohen and, in the process, aligns himself or herself against the last 300 years or so of modern fiction and storytelling. This man loves his songs and is humbled by them and hopes he can be their servant instead of their master by the time the final curtain goes down. Cohen being ordained as a Buddhist monk may have been the least surprising career change in music history.

Live in London consists of over two and half emotionally charged hours of listening to Cohen and his associates attempt to equal a lifetime's worth of prose. Using numerous instruments ranging from harmonica to Spanish guitar and keyboards, Cohen and the band try to race through the sun-soaked valleys and rain-swept streets of one man's literary landscape. His ensemble mirrors the late 1970s and early 1980s tours; it's also really a pleasure to hear Sharon Robinson back with Cohen. Their co-vocals on 2001's "My Secret Life" surpasses the original recording and needs its proper recognition as a song as evocative as anything Cohen's written. The same goes for erstwhile newer song "Democracy," which rambles with the perverse glee of a wrong-way cowboy anthem.

The classics are all here. Most of I'm Your Man is represented and Cohen gravels the songs with gusto and energy. Because he's never bought into the specter of rock 'n' roll, his narrow vocal range becomes forceful, elegant and capable of being positively loud with the right accompaniment. "First We Take Manhattan" is in fine form, with Robinson and the Webb Singers bringing out the energy in Cohen's compact and nattily dressed frame. As a complete band they elevate Cohen, making his "Hallelujah," which was always meant to be a sexual hymn, propelled by wide-eyed wonderment. Stripping it of its religious trappings by following Jeff Buckley's admirable cover has bankrupted the song and made it a histrionically selfish piece of music; in 2009 we needed it back. Cohen reclaims it here and makes it joyful again.

Old flames are also reintroduced. "So Long Marianne" and "Suzanne," two songs that could be credited with predating both the style and content of lo-fi recordings for the next 40 years, are now too famous to be intimate for Cohen. In these larger band arrangements, they have same operatic scope but with almost Olympus-like movements that time has afforded them. The same rule applies to "Bird on the Wire," which aspires to a new universality through the Hammond B-3 organ, through the cloud of the gods. Some songwriters eventually get around to writing spirituals. It seems that Cohen is intent on proving that he's never stopped.

Despite all this praise, Live in London isn't necessarily a must buy. Listening to Cohen's most powerful songs and recitations for two discs isn't as full bodied as any of the studio recordings. The bittersweet humor and lively bounce of songs like "Field Commander Cohen" at times are needed to offset the sticky darkness of "Chelsea Hotel #2." Still, moment by moment, brick by brick, this release is a worthwhile continuation to Cohen's recorded legacy; recognizing without deifying the dogged humanity in the man behind the voice and the crisp mind that formulated the words (which is really all we can write about any more). There's nothing left to say about Leonard Cohen that he couldn't phrase in a better way anyhow.

Hallelujah! A stellar live set from Cohen

The Detroit Free Press - April 5, 2009 by Brian McCollum

Few recent concert announcements have generated as much hubbub as news of Leonard Cohen's May 9 date at the Fox Theatre. It's been 16 years since the iconic Canadian songwriter played Detroit, and shows elsewhere on his lengthy comeback tour have piled up sparkling reviews.

Longtime fans can get a taste of what's coming -- and newbies can crack open the window into Cohen's world -- with "Live in London" (****, Sony), a two-CD set and a DVD that chronicle an arena performance last July. Cohen's expressive, gravel-flecked voice is the sort that was meant to get better with age, and it's ably displayed here with a crack band that avoids getting in the way.

Twenty-six songs offer a full sweep of moods as Cohen gets sentimental, gruff, wry and intimate, traipsing through a set ("In My Secret Life," "Sisters of Mercy," "Bird on a Wire") that visits all the key corners of his five-decade career. Fans enamored of "Hallelujah" in its assorted covers -- by John Cale and Jeff Buckley, among others -- can absorb it here in the masterful hands of its creator. The majestic, stirring performance is a typical high point in a 2- 1/2 hour show that delivers one after another.

Leonard Cohen - Live in London

Slant Magazine - April 4, 2009 by Matthew Cole

* * * * (4 out of 5 stars)

I'm certain that in at least one alternate universe, Leonard Cohen is Bob Dylan. The Canadian artist, like his Minnesotan counterpart, fuses folk, blues, and rock to create spare but evocative backdrops for cerebral poetry, which can, with equally vivid force, conjure the pains of an affair gone awry or the grim precognition of a dystopian future. Of course, comparing two singular artists is a foolish critic's game, but I mean only to comment on the fact that while Cohen never became the Voice of a Generation, his oeuvre captures the spirit of the late 20th century with similar perceptiveness. In a parallel world where North Americans prefer jazz to country, never recovered the optimism shattered in Vietnam, and were, most of all, less suspicious of intellectualism, Cohen might have been our bard.

Instead, Cohen has been an enigmatic presence on the periphery of popular music, treasured by those who know him but unknown to far too many. Of course, Cohen is also "the guy who wrote 'Hallelujah'," though more famous renditions by Jeff Buckley and Rufus Wainwright may even wrest away that star-making claim. As is, Cohen is 74 and, as Live in London amply demonstrates, cherished by many. He was 30 years younger when he released his last live album, and the Cohen who performs here sounds like a man at the end of his career. But that his not to say he sounds exhausted. The long set—26 songs in all—benefits from exquisite production, every track bright and intimate. From his understated backing vocals and sparse piano arrangements, to the flamenco-inflected guitar lines that surface on some of his more recent tunes, Cohen's compositions have always tended toward the minimal, but their details deserve to be heard clearly. When the band does get to play more robust material, as in Dino Soldo's ebullient sax solo on "Bird on a Wire," the performances are put subtlety forward in the mix, resulting in tracks that retain richness and dynamism in spite of their lengths.

Cohen's voice has aged and deteriorated since Field Commander Cohen was recorded, and in some ways the new instrument is just as compelling as the old. Bleak numbers, like "The Future," "The Gypsy's Wife," and "Democracy" benefit from the craggy inflection, their lines even taking on a prophetic quality in the mouth of an elder statesman. On other tracks, though, such as "Suzanne" and "Who by Fire," Cohen's vocals sound flat, the subtleties of the originals beyond his expressive power. Still, when Cohen uses his low-register droll on between-track quips on anti-depressants, heartbreak, and religion, the effect is indelible. He always elicits laughs and applause from his appreciative audience, and he seems to genuinely enjoy being in front of a crowd again. He also casts frequent plaudits on his backing band. That atmosphere of generosity and mutual affection contributes to the intimacy of the record; it's easy to forget that Cohen was playing to a crowd of 20,000.

For those seeking a point of access into the artist's imposing songbook, Columbia's The Essential Leonard Cohen contains most of the same material, but will allow newcomers to hear classic cuts like "Suzanne" and "Bird on a Wire" as recorded when Cohen's voice was stronger and more powerful than it is today. For those who want a compelling document of live Cohen, a number of alternatives exist, and they do not favor the artist's recent output so heavily (one wonders why Songs from a Room-era favorites like "Story of Isaac" and "The Partisan" were not included here). But London is by far Cohen's most generous live release, and if it tilts too heavily to the last two decades of his career, it compensates by including virtually all of the classics from the first three. And unlike a best-of compilation, it ties together all of the material, old and new, with consistent warmth and vocal aesthetic, which allows Cohen to eschew the type of chronological presentation that such collections favor. Instead, he is free to alternate among his many moods—the bleakly political, the tensely sexual, the achingly romantic—without sacrificing coherency.

Music Review: Leonard Cohen - Live In London [2CD/1DVD]

Blogcritics - April 3, 2009 by Donald Gibson

Before Leonard Cohen embarked on his current world tour — which is now winding its way through the United States and Canada — few, if any, could have predicted the septuagenarian would deliver a nearly 3-hour, multiple-encore performance for all of his headlining dates. That the tour would be so well-received proved — if not at first to Cohen, then certainly to his devoted fans — far less surprising.

Recorded on July 17, 2008 at the O2 Arena in the United Kingdom, Live in London — released this week as a 2CD set as well as on DVD — finds Cohen in unassuming command of his audience while paying unselfish deference toward his songs.

In serving the character and enduring distinction of his works — from early ruminations like "Hey, That's No Way To Say Goodbye" and "Bird On The Wire" to latter-day prophesies like "Democracy" and "The Future" — Cohen enlivens them on the stage, revisiting his acute perceptions of the human psyche and soul.

Considering the dreary complexion that has long beset his canon and reputation, it's striking (and refreshing) to behold Cohen in such good spirits as he is here, injecting some self-deprecating humor between songs or, better yet, within them. The audience often chokes up in laughter when he sings particular lines, many written decades ago — like "Well my friends are gone and my hair is grey/ I ache in the places where I used to play," from "Tower of Song" — as if only then had everyone gotten the joke that was originally intended.

All the more remarkable, though, is what hasn't changed, particularly that the setlists haven't varied considerably over the extensive arc of this tour; Cohen's banter between songs hasn't even deviated all that much either. And yet, for those who've taken in a show, even for those who've taken in multiple shows — witnessing Leonard Cohen summoning these timeless, treasured songs to fresh life — each concert feels altogether exhilarant and genuine.

For those, including this writer, who have attended a performance during this singular and epic concert tour, Live in London serves as a befitting and thoroughly enjoyable souvenir. For those who haven't but who appreciate Cohen's music nonetheless, both the audio and visual presentations make for outstanding live documents.

Leonard Cohen: Live in London

Sunday Mercury (UK) - April 5, 2009 by Paul Cole

SIMON Cowell's smash and grab of Hallelujah last year may have upset the purists, but it was a timely reminder of Leonard Cohen's sublime songwriting. This live album, recorded at London's 02 Arena last year, finds the 74 year-old maturing like a vintage claret. The setlist ranges from early classics Suzanne, So Long Marianne and Sisters Of Mercy to later career triumphs such as First We Take Manhattan, with backing ranging from sparse folk-pop to jazz. Best is the bittersweet Hey That's No Way To Say Goodbye, proving that less can indeed be more. PC

Len's having a laugh

The Sun (UK) - March 27, 2009 by Simon Cosyns

LEONARD COHEN gleefully skips on stage (no really!) and takes his place behind the mic.

"It's been a long time since I stood on a stage in London," he drawls in a voice as deep as the ocean.

"It was about 14 or 15 years ago. I was 60 years old, just a kid with a crazy dream."

The crowd at London's O2 roars with laughter. The 74-year-old bears a wide grin beneath his Fedora.

Then he reels off a list of "happy" pills he's taken, including Prozac and Ritalin, before adding: "I've also studied deeply in the philosophies and the religions... but cheerfulness kept breaking through." Could this be the gloomy bedsit poet ironically known as "Laughing Len"?

Was this the same Canadian singer who emerged in the late Sixties with his studies of depression in song?

Thankfully, his record company Columbia have had the good sense to release a fabulous two-CD document of a world tour that included headline appearances at Glastonbury and The Big Chill.

We know that Cohen's breathtakingly brilliant performances were created by a need for money after he was ripped off by his manager.

But there's nothing forced about his performance. It's a joy to behold, a masterful trawl through his towering back catalogue (including the aptly-named Tower Of Song). He's more concerned about his audience than himself. "It's wonderful to be gathered here on just the other side of intimacy. I know some of you have undergone financial and geographical inconvenience."

Flanked by a group of fine musicians and backing singers, all sympathetic to his material, he demonstrates power, grace, emotion as well as humour.

He bends his knees as he sings, he cups his hands in a gesture of "giving" to his audience, he's every bit the perfect host for an evening's entertainment.

He's in great voice too... whether he's bending it to one of his early classics like Suzanne or Bird On A wire or whether it's from his golden Eighties revival.


Because of Jeff Buckley and X Factor's Alexandra, his best known song is Hallelujah these days. Here, it's not saved for the encore but takes its place midway through the concert's second half.

He graciously throws the spotlight on to his backing singers Sharon Robinson for Boogie Street (she wrote the duet from Cohen's Ten New Songs) and the Webb Sisters on the prayer-like If It Be Your Will.

As for his band, they help summon the ghosts of the singer's European Jewish roots with their lavish waltzes and lilting solos.

On this form, Len will be dancing to the end of love, taking Manhattan and finding no cure for love until he's past 90.

Both Leonard Cohen and Stevie Nicks revisit old classics

New Haven Register (CT) - April 3, 2009 by Patrick Ferrucci

Leonard Cohen — "Live In London" (Columbia): One could forgive musical legend Leonard Cohen if last year's European tour wasn't up to par. It would be excusable if the iconic songwriter was just going through the motions. After all, almost 15 years since his last jaunt, Cohen went out on the road simply to get his personal finances back in order after getting swindled by his former business manager. Cohen had no intention of touring before this, so it wouldn't have been a surprise if these shows lacked a palpable energy from the 73-year-old musician.

Thankfully, that was not the case.

On the 26-song "Live In London," a two-disc set that chronicles a show from July 17, 2008, is also a departure in style for Cohen. Much of his catalog is distinguished because of his ability to embrace starkness and subtlety. How would this material go over in front of 20,000 loud fans, with a nine-piece band behind him? Simply put, it works again and again.

Age seems to have perked Cohen up a bit, too. The notoriously dour man's between-song banter sounds like ramblings of your sarcastically dry and funny grandfather. You can't help but laugh at some of this stuff. But we don't care about the banter; we can care about the music. And it's all here.

While the minimal arrangements of a lot of the older material are gone, they are replaced with nuanced takes on classics such as "The Future," "Suzanne" and "Hey, That's No Way To Say Goodbye." There's nary a misfire or miscue here. The only obvious criticism that can be levied against "Live In London" is the way Cohen occasionally allows his horn players, which include David Sanborn, too much space and time to solo. It gets to be too much and slows down the show.

Although 1973's "Live Songs" will remain the finest concert chronicle Cohen's released, "London" is the broadest and most human. We can hear Cohen basking in the crowd's warm reception, honestly feeling a little overwhelmed. His voice may be creakier and the songs older, but they still resonate with the same power. The disc is a not-so-gentle reminder of the sheer greatness of Cohen, who too often gets overlooked because of contemporaries like Bob Dylan and Paul Simon.

Live In London - Leonard Cohen

All Music - March 31, 2009 by Mark Deming

As more than one writer has pointed out, in 2008 and 2009 Leonard Cohen's loss became his audience's gain. After spending five years living as a monk in a Buddhist monastery during a sabbatical from music, Cohen discovered in 2005 that his former business manager had embezzled nearly all his savings, and two years later, in order to put his finances back in order, he warily agreed to an international concert tour, his first in nearly a decade and a half. Given the circumstances that prompted Cohen's return to the stage as well as his age -- 73 when the tour began -- one would have the right to wonder just how enthusiastic the great songwriter would be about meeting his audience again. But judging from Live in London -- a two-disc set recorded during a rapturously received appearance at London's O2 Arena on July 17, 2008 -- these concerts have unexpectedly given Cohen a chance to remind the world of his strengths as a musician and a performer, and he's embraced the opportunity with joy. The notion of Leonard Cohen playing a 20,000-seat arena may seem a bit surprising (at least in America), but Cohen and his nine-member supporting ensemble give 25 songs from his catalog a treatment that fills them out enough to work in a massive room (at least compared to the intimate arrangements of his early work) without crushing the nuances of gentler numbers like "Who by Fire" and "Suzanne," while "The Future" and "Democracy" sound just as big as they need to be. There's sometimes a bit too much David Sanborn in Dino Soldo's horn solos, but otherwise the band is superb -- especially Javier Mas on banduria, laud, archilaud, and guitar, and the vocal ensemble of Sharon Robinson, Charley Webb, and Hattie Webb -- and despite the craggy, weathered state of Cohen's voice, he sounds sure and committed from the first moment to the last, often finding notes that seem elusive at first, and his performance here is genuinely engrossing. It's also surprisingly witty; Cohen may have a reputation as one of the most dour performers in contemporary music, but his between-song patter is charmingly droll, and he finds a passion and a humanity in his songs that sets them apart from their studio counterparts. Cohen sounds genuinely moved by the affectionate reception he receives from his audience, and he seems determined to give them a show to match their loyalty, and with his band (who he frequently lauds during the performance) he truly gives of himself; if this isn't quite the strongest live performance Cohen has released for public consumption, it's certainly the warmest and the most emotionally resonant. Perhaps fate forced Leonard Cohen's hand to stage the tour documented in part on Live in London, but it seems that fate knows just what it's doing, and this album eloquently demonstrates how much Cohen still has to offer, and how clearly his music still speaks to him (and us).

Leonard Cohen - Live In London

musicOMH - March 30, 2009 by John Murphy

****1/2 (out of five)

With hindsight, perhaps a Leonard Cohen track wasn't such a weird choice for The X Factor winner's song. After all, "I've been on such a journey" is the inevitable reprise from any reality TV contestant worth their salt - and nobody's been on a journey like Leonard Cohen has.

It was 13 years ago that the Canadian songwriter appeared to turn his back on a unlikely late career renaissance, instead taking a vow of silence and travelling to mountains to become a Buddhist monk. After years of meditating in the hills, he returned home, recorded a couple of more albums, and then discovered in 2005 that he'd been swindled out of the vast majority of his retirement fund and publishing rights, leaving him a relative pauper.

So it was that a 70-something Cohen embarked on an gruelling stadium tour of Europe, delighting old fans and engaging with a whole new generation of admirers. The unlikely finale to 2008 was that of not one, but two, versions of one of his most famous songs Hallelujah taking up residence in the Top 3, thus easily repaying the money that was stolen from him.

Live In London is a wonderful souvenir of Cohen's gig at London's O2 Arena in July 2008 (with an accompanying DVD also released). The 25 song setlist takes in many eras of Cohen's back catalogue, and the man himself sounds in fine voice - in fact, that famously deep bass rumble sounds better than ever, with not even a hint of a shake in the vocals.

The problem with live albums is that the connection between artist and audience is often lost, and you're left with a collection of songs that aren't quite as good as the studio versions. That's not the case here, though - it's obvious from the first note of Dance Me To The End Of Love that the audience have a deep reverence for Cohen, laughing heartily at his many jokes and maintaining a respectful silence through the quieter numbers - indeed, during the spoken word Recitation w/NL, you can almost hear a pin drop.

The feeling is obviously mutual as well, with Cohen taking time out between each song to address his "friends" and give the audience heartfelt thanks for travelling to see him. It would come across as corny in any other hands, but it's that connection that makes this a truly great live album. Unfairly derided as 'music to slit wrists to' years ago, Cohen is an absolute delight during the between song banter, describing the last time he was on stage in London ("it was 14 or 15 years ago...I was 60 years old, just a crazy kid with a dream") or ad-libbing during the end of Tower Of Song so much that you can hear the backing singers start to giggle.

Cohen's band is also in excellent form, with long-term collaborator Sharon Robinson and sisters Charley & Hattie Webb not so much taking backing vocals but rather adding new dimensions to the songs here. Cohen even hands over lead vocal duties to Robinson on Boogie Street, and constantly namechecks the other members of his band.

Above all though, it's those magnificent songs that still stand the test of time. Classics like Bird On A Wire and Suzanne nestle comfortably next to more recent material like the apocalyptic The Future ("I've seen the future brother, it is murder") and the title track from I'm Your Man, the brilliant album which began his career revival back in 1987.

Tracks such as the wonderful Take This Waltz, the sinister First We Take Manhattan and the superb Tower Of Song (which produces an almighty cheer at the famous line "I was born like this, I had no choice, I was born with the gift of a golden voice") are undoubted highlights but predictably enough the highpoint comes with Hallelujah. It may have been covered more than 80 times, but only the original has the power, grace and beauty that Cohen can instil in it. And yes, that includes Jeff Buckley...

The wry humour on display even extends to the setlist, with I Tried To Leave You being the first song of the encore. It's little touches like that which make Live In London both the perfect souvenir for those who were there on the night and also a handy introduction to one of the true living legends of music.

Album of the Week: Leonard Cohen

The Montreal Gazette - April 2, 2009 by Bernard Perusse

Live in London/Columbia, available on both CD and DVD

Five stars out of five

Leonard Cohen's homecoming concerts last year dramatically increased in impact if you were in the room. The emotion was palpable at his opening-night Place des Arts show, where the man unfairly linked with gloom drew tears of joy from delighted fans who hadn't seen him on stage since 1993.

For that reason, the Live in London DVD — a similar concert recorded at the O2 Arena a few weeks after his Montreal performances — is a step removed from an important part of the 2008 Cohen experience. The identically sequenced double CD, which can't show us the onstage camaraderie between Cohen and his musicians, is two steps removed.

And yet this exquisite live document will more than do in a pinch. If you were there, it will bring you back. If you weren't, you'll get a strong sense what the fuss was all about. In either case, you'll find revelation in the stunning musicality of the marathon concert, which clocks in at two hours and 37 minutes.

The order of the songs in the first Montreal show was slightly different, and the performance ran longer than the one captured here for posterity: Avalanche, That Don't Make It Junk and Famous Blue Raincoat, all missing at the O2 event, were part of the hometown lineup on opening night.

But perhaps those set list concerns are for the keepers of the fan sites. In the end, the touching and memorable moments that made Cohen's almost flawlessly constructed shows so essential can be found here.

The DVD version of the concert includes the song lyrics, but otherwise offers no extra material. With its fine camerawork and superior sound, however, it's the more satisfying experience.

Where else, for example, could you catch such a perfect guaranteed-smile moment as Cohen breaking into a little two-step shuffle after singing "There'll be fires on the road and the white man dancing" in The Future? You also need to see the way Cohen interacts so warmly with his band, kneeling at the feet of stringed-instrument wizard Javier Mas as he sings Dance Me to the End of Love and frequently moving in close to the soloists, enjoying and praising their work at every turn.

But if you're going audio-only so you can have the show with you at all times (not such a bad idea), you'll still hear evidence of what really defined the 74-year-old bard's current tour: the almost perfect set list, the way the stellar backup musicians and singers — always tasteful, never obtrusive — add wonderful colour and insightful fills to the songs and, most of all, Cohen's unexpected, right-on-the-melody delivery. Do Cohen and band seem to love their job? You know it.

The songs? You already know their wounded protagonists, terrifying prophecies, spiritual insights and unexpected hope — not to mention their witty turns of phrase. It's Cohen's world. And this essential live document allows us to keep visiting again and again.

Podworthy: Tower of Song

CD REVIEW: Leonard Cohen: Live in London

Insight Magazine (University of Nevada) - April 1, 2009 by Brad Nelson

Leonard Cohen is the greatest living poet and songwriter.

At 74, he still writes magnificent and layered dedications to human truth and ugliness. His most recent, "A Street," was published earlier this month in The New Yorker: "I know the burden's heavy As you bear it through the night Some people say it's empty But that doesn't mean it's light."

His most famous song, "Hallelujah," features a verse of power undiminished despite overplay: "Love is not a victory march. It's a cold and it's a broken hallelujah."

But Cohen is not merely a deft poet. He is also among the greatest living performers.

His new album, Live in London, brings this into sharp relief.

Cohen is a smooth and welcoming showman, his voice similar to a soothing God guiding the audience toward a comforting light.

"It's wonderful to be gathered here on just the other side of intimacy," he says in his first address to the audience. "I'm so pleased that you're here, I know that some of you have undergone financial and geographical inconvenience. We're honored to play for you tonight."

Cohen makes similar abstract remarks and gestures of thanks throughout the recording. He remains mysterious even in his apparent appreciation of his audience and his ability to continue delivering them to his towers of song.

He also makes room for a joke or two.

"It's been a long time since I've stood on the stage in London," he said. "It was about 14 or 15 years ago. I was 60 years old, just a kid with a crazy dream."

Cohen can no longer sing in any melodic sense. His voice has long since been destroyed by wine and cigarettes. However, there is little mistaking the relentless vigor in his cracked and smoky vocals when he lets free "Anthem" 's reassuring chorus: "There's a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in."

Many fans criticize Cohen's output post-Recent Songs. On that record, he made a sharp turn from his sweet and spare acoustic songs to an ornamental, smooth jazz backing. Critics wrote the songs off as exercises in cheese and chaff.

This is simply not so. Cohen's lyrics have never lost their dark magic. When juxtaposed against the lounge music of his later records, they grow even darker. They prove that even under such innocuous musical flourishes the world's evils are unceasing.

For instance, "The Future" pivots on a keyboard riff that sounds like an artifact from the '80s in its artificial funk. But it holds trenchant lyrical treasures such as this: "Give me crack and anal sex. Take the only tree that's left and stuff it up the hole in your culture."

The instrumentation of Live in London holds to this latter half of his discography. In a live setting, though, many songs achieve new life. "Everybody Knows" is released from the robotic rhythm that imprisoned it on 1988's I'm Your Man. Now it is allowed to breathe the pessimistic air it invites: "Everybody knows the fight was fixed. The poor stay poor. The rich get rich."

Some older songs receive a new sheen. "Bird on a Wire" transforms from a simple guitar lament to a gospel rave up, yet it is never uncomfortable in its newer, thicker skin. Even a cliché saxophone solo does not diminish its resolute sadness, epitomized in the lyric: "Like a baby, stillborn, like a beast with his horn, I have torn everyone who reached out for me."

My favorite Cohen record, Songs of Love and Hate, is incomparably stark. Much of it sharply focuses on a lone Cohen with only his acoustic guitar for comfort. Both spend 40 minutes in tribute to the extreme darkness of the soul. It is the rare kind of album that will accompany the most lost and depressed into their disappearance from as well as their return to the world.

Live in London weighs little on the suicidal notations of Love and Hate. It is a more affirmative affair and it is a stronger live record for it. It doggedly stares down the demons in his songs. It says to them, "Look on my works and the people connected to them, ye evil, and despair!"

Rating: A-

Live In London... by Leonard Cohen

Metro Canada (Vancouver) - April 1, 2009 by Graham Rockingham

Rating: ***1/2 (out of five)

It's probably near sacrilege to use such words to describe a poetic icon like Leonard Cohen, but it must be said: At times — especially during his wonderfully humble between-song patter on this two disc, 23-song live CD — Cohen sounds more than a bit like Eeyore, the morose gray donkey from Pooh Corner. That's OK, though. It's what we've come to expect from the great man. And, every now and then, as he says "cheerfulness keeps breaking through." This is the complete show from London's O2 Arena last July 17 and it's more than representative of what some critics declared the top tour of 2008. At 73, there's a bounce in Cohen's step and a determination to be seen as going for more than the money.

CD Reviews: Cohen's London concert bodes well for fans

Times Colonist (British Columbia) - April 1, 2009 by Mike Devlin

Rating: 4 (out of five)

There's something endlessly appealing about Live in London, a two-disc concert recording from the suddenly surging Leonard Cohen. Twenty-six songs and more than two hours of music from one of the great songwriters in history -- what's not to like?

The set was recorded in July at London's O2 Arena and arrives midway through what is presumed to be his final tour. Cohen doesn't seem ready for last call: After being secluded and/or isolated for many years, the Montreal native is back to promoting his music on a grand scale. If there's a downside, it's that Cohen no longer appears to be the mystery man he once was. But if the benefit is Live in London, a little self-promotion isn't such a bad thing.

Cohen, 74, has an easy rapport with his London audience and his between-song banter ("I was 60 years old, just a kid with a crazy dream," he quips during the introduction to Ain't No Cure for Love) anchors his engaging performance. He pokes fun at the dour tone of his best songs, though it never diminishes their intent. His voice is in especially good form on Bird on a Wire, and his large band displays an exemplary sense of feel. The players pack a lot of punch during Live in London, but it is the grand master who delivers the knockout blow. Hallelujah, indeed.

Leonard Cohen releases first live album in eight years

The Hawk (Saint Joseph University, PA) - April 1, 2009 by Jack Burke

For existing fans, "Live In London" will highlight some of their favorite Leonard Cohen songs, while adding in some songs from the rest of his long career. For non-fans, Leonard Cohen's newest live album could either be great or painfully boring.

Everyone has at least heard the Jeff Buckley reworking of Cohen's "Hallelujah," or some American Idol butchering of it. Cohen's version is a little less emotional than Buckley's, but he wrote it.

Most of Cohen's work involves his calm vocals, but his songwriting is superb. After some listening, Cohen's voice fits well with his music, and it has subtle nuances that help convey emotion nearly as well as the likes of Buckley.

"Live in London" is an excellent addition to existing fans' collections. It's also a relatively decent introduction to his body of work for the uninformed.

Cohen's voice has gotten deeper since the beginning of his career. He still manages to sing with the same emotive quality. His deeper voice sometimes adds to the songs. At times, when he hits lower notes he approaches an early Tom Waits growl, but he backs off of it for most of the album. For most of the album he maintains a comfortable, warm vocal pattern that's fitting of a seasoned folk hero like himself.

Cohen's backing band does a great job of adding to the atmosphere and the motion of the songs without cluttering them or ruining them by adding unnecessary parts.

The album sounds fresh without dating itself. There's no silly instruments that end up dating the album and distracting from the music.

"Hallelujah" replaces the original's tendency towards electronic sounding vocals and backing tracks. On "Live in London," the organ is highlighted as well as guitar and bass. The backing vocals are also calmed down from the original studio version and are more effective.

There's even an occasional tasteful guitar solo, which seems a bit uncharacteristic of Cohen. "Bird on a Wire" also changes the original to fit Cohen's current backing band. The version on "Live in London" uses electric guitar to great effect. A gospel-esque organ is also added, which definitely adds to the song's atmosphere.

Other Cohen classics are also done very well: "Suzanne" retains its poetic acoustic instrumentation. "So Long, Marianne" is another example of a reinterpretation by Cohen's current band that remains faithful to the original while also adding new, interesting parts.

"Sisters of Mercy" is relatively close to the album version with a few additions in the background.

The album is excellent, but like all Leonard Cohen, it requires the mood for his brand of introspective folk. So, if the mood strikes you, "Live in London" is a great experience for fans as well as those unfamiliar with Cohen's work.

Cohen concert album shows he's still a class act

Calgary Herald - March 31, 2009 by Eric Volmers

Live In London 4 out of 5

At this point in the game, it's probably unfair to point out Leonard Cohen's lack of onstage urgency, even when discussing a sprawling double-disc live album.

Cohen, after all, is 74 years old and his connection to rock music has always been tenuous. So it's not surprising that Cohen and his elegant nine-piece backing band eschewed the usual rock-show formula for a concert at the O2 Arena in London last summer. There's no real crescendo to the finish line, or opening-chord rush and release to kick-start the festivities. Instead, Cohen arrives in dark suit and fedora with a polite greeting and immediately establishes a warmth that doesn't fade throughout his three-hour show.

Which doesn't mean this handsome CD-DVD set --perfectly timed to cash in on Cohen's latest resurgence in popular consciousness-- is a bore. While the temperature never fades, it does occasionally rise as Cohen's expert band and backup singers layer subtle colours onto his beautiful melodies.

It's still thrilling to hear Cohen's stately baritone dance playfully with his female backup singers. But the thrust here is precision and control, which extends to Cohen's voice and phrasing. With the possible exception of Bob Dylan, popular music has yet to produce a "non-singer" this effective at delivering poetic and often cryptic lyrics. Longtime fans will find themselves anxiously anticipating his famous lines as if waiting for the sugary fix of a perfect pop hook.

Cohen's 26-song trek starts with a clever one-two punch that nicely sums up two sides of his lyrical gifts. Opening number Dance Me To the Outside of Love is one of his most intricate and reverent odes to beauty, and yet it flows nicely into the dread-toned, apocalyptic The Future.

Other highlights? For starters, there's the majestic and underappreciated Anthem. I'm Your Man, Take This Waltz and particularly So Long, Marianne are knockouts, as is a (relatively) upbeat run through Closing Time. On his lovely If It Be Your Will, Cohen hands lead vocals over to the "sublime Webb Sisters" with stunning results.

For devotees, Live in London is an essential souvenir that boasts a top-of-his-game Cohen delivering classic after classic. Casual fans will be reminded of the towering heights reached by this national treasure's songbook.

For those of you lucky enough to have a ticket for Cohen's April 26 show at the Jack Singer Hall, this will be a nice primer that will have you counting the days.

Capturing the full Cohen experience

Edmonton Journal - March 31, 2009 by Kim Solez

When I visited iconic Canadian singer, songwriter, and poet Leonard Cohen over a weekend in November 2005, he spoke of the importance of conserving his psychic energy for creative work.

The enthusiasm and engagement of his performances on his latest Live in London dual CD and DVD release suggests that he did just that, but now is fully injecting that energy into his singing and recitation as he tours.

The performances from the London O2 Arena concert July 17, 2008, in this release are smooth and polished, and seem to just get better and better as the evening progresses, all the more remarkable when one considers that Cohen turns 75 this year.

He seems dedicated to delivering the right kind emotion into every syllable, putting the right mood into every song. The effect is quite spiritual and natural.

It is as if Cohen himself is experiencing a unique journey through the songs every time he sings, encountering something novel. He is remarkably present in his voice. One gets the impression that the engagement with the song is an all-encompassing inner experience for him that he effectively conveys to the audience.

I was at the concert captured in this release and have seen one since. The dual CDs and DVD capture very well the exuberant and happy mood of the audience that night. After the second song, Cohen mentioned that recently in his life "cheerfulness kept breaking through" -- and indeed the whole evening had the flavour of happy celebration.

I was seated near the front but even so, there is a depth of expression in the video images one did not fully appreciate being at the concert in person. It is like being onstage with the band.

The 26 tracks in this CD/DVD release include every song actually performed at the concert; nothing is left out. The selections run the gamut from four from Cohen's very first album in 1968 -- Sisters of Mercy (written in Edmonton), Suzanne, So Long, Marianne and Hey, That's No Way to Say Goodbye -- to a good sampling of songs from most albums up to the present day.

In addition to the treasured classics from the past, his never-before-recorded spoken-word recitation of A Thousand Kisses Deep, accompanied by Neil Larsen on the keyboard, is delightful, as is the description of Cohen's102-year-old Zen master on the track labeled Introduction. Surprises, insights and wonderful nuances abound!

The most unusual feature of the discs is the large amount of Cohen's repartee with the audience. These spoken-word intros and diversions are so interesting and full of charm that they seem quite natural to include and add to the value of the release. Always gracious, Cohen thanks the audience at several points during the evening, acknowledging the financial and geographic sacrifices they have made to be there.

There have been three other live recording releases from Cohen in the past, but this is the first one that accurately captures the full experience of being at a Cohen concert, so it is highly significant and unique.

The musicianship of the band he has put together is outstanding. Javier Mas's guitar mastery in many of the songs is wonderful. Dino Soldo's soaring solos on the wind instruments are inspiring, and the female voices of Sharon Anderson and Charley and Hattie Webb lure the listener in from the beginning, and are especially beautiful on Ain't No Cure For Love and If It Be Your Will. These are probably the most skilled musicians Cohen has ever recorded with and they are a delight to listen to.

His voice is in fine form -- strong, vibrant, resonant, full and much better than on Dear Heather (2004) or Ten New Songs (2001) and on a par with Cohen Live (1994) and The Future (1992). Somehow, in these recent performances, Cohen has found rejuvenation, the fountain of youth, and it is infectious. We become younger, too, in the process of listening!

Cohen performs Saturday, April 25 at Rexall Place.

Kim Solez is a professor of pathology at the University of Alberta and is the founder of an annual Leonard Cohen festival in Edmonton

Leonard Cohen: Live In London

The Star (Toronto) - March 31, 2009 by Greg Quill

3-1/2 out of 4 stars

Watching Leonard Cohen skipping into position at the start of the epic performance video — shot last July at London's sold-out O2 Arena — then bounding off stage ecstatically two hours later, like a teenager scooting for a bus, it's apparent that the Canadian songwriter is as comfortable in his skin as any artist can be.

At 74, Cohen has at last grown into his repertoire. To songs that in the 1960s and '70s were sidelined as too sad and depressing, too personal and too literary, he can now bring a wry fatalism, a bemused wisdom, an apocalyptic charm and the astonished delight of the long-distance runner who finds himself crossing the line ahead of the pack.

"It's been a long time since I stood on a stage in London," he mumbles in his subterranean baritone. "It was about 14 or 15 years ago. I was 60 years old, just a kid with a crazy dream."

At once a testament to his copious oeuvre and a video chronicle of a transcendently inspired musical ensemble fairly levitating under the spell of Cohen's deceptively severe and simple compositions, Live in London presents Cohen at the very pinnacle of his artistic power.

Not for a nanosecond in this 24-song concert does the septuagenarian folk music icon — grinning craftily from beneath a wide-brimmed fedora, like a Depression-era Montreal gangster sniffing a kill — miss a cue, a beat, a note, a word, or the opportunity to impress an adoring audience with his wit and bravado.

At several points, he crouches like a supplicant before them mid-song, then bounces back to centre stage, wallowing in the euphoric effects of the music that surrounds him, a veritable symphony made up of austere Middle European folk forms blended with the Mediterranean warmth and gypsy soul of multi-instrumentalist Javier Mas' banduria, laud, archilaud and 12-string guitar; the jazz improvisations of wind-instrument virtuoso Dino Soldo; the funky R&B and romantic pedal steel licks of venerable guitarist Bob Metzger; the silky weave of backing voices provided by long-time collaborator Sharon Robinson; and more.

Armed with the kind of indestructibility all artists crave and few achieve, Cohen claims these songs as never before, imbuing "Ain't No Cure for Love," "Everybody Knows," "Democracy," "Who by Fire," "Hallelujah," "Tower of Song," "Sisters of Mercy," "Suzanne," "I'm Your Man," "Hey, That's No Way to Say Goodbye" with an affection, ease and grace that belie their bitterness, longing and sorrow.

He seems grateful for everything — for a long and productive life, for the band and for the openness and spiritual generosity of the audience, which hangs on every word, reducing the vast space to the size of a living room.

"It's wonderful to be gathered here, just on the other side of intimacy," he intones, holding cupped hands outwards, at the start of the concert. And later, after listing the prescribed mood elevators with which he is familiar, he adds, "I've also studied deeply in the philosophies and the religions ... but cheerfulness kept breaking through."

There's not a wasted moment in this video (an audio CD version is out today as well). The ungainly, discofied arrangement of "First We Take Manhattan" notwithstanding, Leonard Cohen: Live In London — a one-hour edit airs tomorrow night at 8 on CBC-TV — is a timeless and priceless portrait of the artist as an older man, and better than ever.


Philadelphia Daily News - March 31, 2009 by Jonathan Takiff

TOWER OF SONG: If you missed out on tickets to his upcoming Academy of Music show, Leonard Cohen "Live In London" (Sony Music, A) fills the bill at a fraction of the cost. The DVD boasts the same exquisitely buffed, Mediterranean-pop-flavored band, soulful backup singers and 2 1/2-hour parade of bracing, poetically charged hits delivered in Cohen's distinctive, velvet fog fashion. Both two-channel and 5.1 surround sound options on the video disc are audiophile-grade. Also available as an CD/download.

Leonard Cohen - Live In London

PopMatters - March 31, 2009 by Adrien Begrand

The loss of five million dollars can light a fire underneath anyone, even a serene, 74-year-old Buddhist poet/singer-songwriter, but to Leonard Cohen's great credit, not only did he refuse to wither away after being swindled out of his savings and royalties by his former manager, but in the past year he's returned to the stage, exhibiting a level of passion, verve, and grace that's caught even his longtime fans by surprise.

When 2008 rolled around, it had been 15 years since the Canadian legend last toured (in support of his great 1992 album The Future), but with the help of a brilliant nine-piece supporting band, he headed back on the road with gusto, playing more than 60 dates in Eastern Canada, the UK, and Europe. By the time Cohen and band played to a huge crowd of 20,000 at London's O2 Arena on July 17th, they were well-oiled, two months into the big comeback tour, and with recording and film crews there to capture the event, they went on to deliver a spellbinding, seductive, pristine, near-three-hour set that spanned the man's 40-year musical career. And now nine months later, in addition to being a fine teaser for Cohen's extensive North American tour this spring, that London performance has yielded one of the finest live albums to come our way in a long while.

"It's been a long time since I've stood on the stage in London," Cohen muses at one point between songs, adding with his typical droll humor, "It was about 14 or 15 years ago, I was 60 years old, just a kid with a crazy dream... I've studied deeply in philosophies and religions, but cheerfulness kept breaking through." And from the opening salvos of the gorgeous, cabaret-tinged "Dance Me to the End of Love", it's clear that he has not lost a step whatsoever, his resonant, cigarette-deepened baritone voice enveloping us, brilliantly interweaving with the dulcet tones of his trademark trio of background singers. Part vocal foils, part muses, the trio of longtime collaborator Sharon Robinson and welcome new young additions Charley and Hattie Webb (known to many followers of UK pop as simply the Webb Sisters) continually engage in a playful tug-of-war with the stately bard. Going back to his first breakthrough single "Suzanne", those female voices are central to Cohen's sound, and throughout the 26-song set, Robinson and the Webb sisters more than prove their worth, whether it be cooing away on "Tower of Song" or taking solo turns on lovely renditions of "Boogie Street" and "If It Be Your Will".

Led by bassist/musical director Roscoe Beck, who has worked with Cohen since 1979, the rest of the band is tremendous, leaping easily from the low-key folk of Cohen's 1960s material to the more new wave-ish sounds of his 1980s catalog. Neil Larson adds some Hammond B3 to "Bird on the Wire", adding an elegiac, Garth Hudson-like touch to the performance, while Dino Soldo, so eloquently described by Cohen as the "master of breath, on the instrument of wind," adds some unabashedly smooth saxophone solos on "Ain't No Cure for Love". For all the superb performances (Bob Metzger's electric guitar and pedal steel contributions cannot be underestimated), the key addition to the band is multi-instrumentalist Javier Mas, whose expressive bandurria, laud, archilaud, and 12-string guitar fills are central, adding a mysterious, gypsy-like feel to nearly every song. And typical of the gracious and humble Cohen, he never hesitates to acknowledge his backing musicians, adding a classy introduction whenever anyone has a brief solo.

As much as he tries to deflect the attention onto his crack band, this performance is still all about Mr. Cohen, who for all his technical vocal limitations, still exudes a charisma that few singers can match. Interestingly, the songs most cherished by his baby boomer fans, such as "Suzanne", "So Long, Marianne", "Sisters of Mercy", and "Hey, That's No Way to Say Goodbye", are the most understated performances, Cohen's delivery tender, almost overly polite.

It's when we get deeper into his career, namely the albums like The Future and his 1988 masterpiece I'm Your Man, which won Cohen a new generation of fans, that Cohen truly gains some serious momentum. Although he tidies up part of "The Future" ("Give me crack and careless sex"), the track still seethes with cynicism, feeling more portentous than ever. His voice of doom on "Everybody Knows" is continually answered by Mas's beautiful fills. The slinky jazz of "I'm Your Man" and the rollicking "Closing Time" transform the vast, generic arena into a drowsy, smoky bar, drummer Rafael Gayol adds subtle dance beats to the sinister "First We Take Manhattan", while "Democracy" sees Cohen forcefully delivering some of the finest lyrics of his esteemed career ("I'm stubborn as those garbage bags that Time cannot decay / I'm junk but I'm still holding up this little wild bouquet").

Many will consider the restrained interpretation of the classic "Hallelujah" to be one of the concert's high points, but the big surprise just might be Cohen's simple recitation of his poem "A Thousand Kisses Deep", which inspired the song of the same name on 2001's underrated Ten New Songs. Accompanied by Larsen's subtle, ambient synths, the power of the reading is jaw-dropping, and it feels like you can hear a pin drop in the packed arena. "I'm good at love, I'm good at hate / It's in between I freeze," he says at one point. You can be as self-deprecating as you want, Len, but the rest of us, from those who swoon at your poem to those who wish like hell they'd written it, we would all beg to differ.

RATING: 8 out of 10

Leonard Cohen - Live In London

Huffington Post - March 30, 2009 by Mike Ragogna

"About fourteen or fifteen years ago, I was 60 years old, just a kid with a crazy dream," cracks Cohen on his sensational live album that casts him alongside Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, and Paul Simon as one of intelligent, sophisticated music's elder statesmen. He then says, "I've also studied deeply in the philosophies, but cheerfulness kept breaking through," and if you know absolutely any of Leonard Cohen's songs (everybody's covered them) or heard any of his recordings, then you get that "cheerful" makes his vocabulary by way of accident or miracle. With a voice as bottomless as a pit (like Chris Rea's, Jon Mark's, kind of Neil Diamond's, and sometimes Robbie Robertson's), Leonard Cohen emotes from an even deeper source as he gets real personal with the listener and his characters like "Suzanne" ("...and you know that she's half-crazy, but that's why you want to be there..."), "...Marianne" (" know that I love to live with you, but you make me forget so very much..."), or even those "Sisters Of Mercy" ("...if your life is a leaf that the seasons tear off and condemn, they will bind you with love that is graceful and green as a stem...").

Recorded July 17, 2008 at the O2 Arena in London, England, this was meant to be some sort of farewell tour, though Leonard's voice really has grown better over the years. Unlike many of his heralded contemporaries, some of his more recent compositions actually are as sophisticated as his older works, and some are as brilliant as tracks found on his classic Songs Of... series of albums. Spanning two CDs (and an identical DVD), on Live In London, we get the mostly Fedora'd band cranking out 25 of those songs, our star crooner growling out familiar phrases that uninitiated cynics might compare to Tom Waits (even though Cohen doesn't haunt the same gin-soaked joints). As mesmerizing as a saintly Svengeli, song after song, Cohen throws out sometimes disturbing confessionals like "In My Secret Life"'s "...I smile when I'm angry, I cheat and I lie, I do what I have to do to get by..." and we nod along with each phrase. In many songs, his evil eye stares down hypocrisy and society's ills, his serious, bass voice adding even more gravity to songs such as "Anthem" ("...yeah, the wars they will be fought again, the Holy Dove, she will be cut again..."), "Democracy" (as in "Democracy is coming to the USA..."), "Everybody Knows" ("...everybody knows the war is over, everybody knows the good guys lost..."), and "First We Take Manhattan" ("...they sentenced me to 20 years of boredom for trying to change the system from within, I'm coming now, I'm coming to reward them, first we take Manhattan, then we take Berlin...").

In some cases, the master has learned from his disciples. His "Hallelujah" now takes on Jeff Buckley's version's vibe and tempo, and his "Hey, That's No Way To Say Goodbye" morphs itself into any one of its numerous mid-tempo covers. The band's updated, intimate arrangements cure some of the dated and distracting approaches of many of Cohen's later songs' gimmicky studio recordings. But the essentials are intact, such as his mostly pared-down instrument casting, and I-Threes-style background vocal section that serves as an underline to his texts. Cohen's frequent co-writer, Sharon Robinson, accompanies him on a few tracks like "Boogie Street" where the soulful vocalist owns the first few lines with the flavor of a gospel singer but the approach of a subdued Roberta Flack before she joins him in unison for the song's remainder. And exotic instrumentalist, Javier Mas, extracts every bit of passion he can from "Suzanne," the very Pink Floyd-ish "The Gypsy's Wife," and "Who By Fire," and the soloists get introduced after every performance.

The roster gets a real workout on "I Tried To Leave You," a jam in which the band isn't trying all that hard to leave. Musician after musician goes front and center, starting with Bob Metzger (guitar), and Dino Soldo (sax and wind instruments), Neil Larson (B-3, keyboards), Sharon Robinson (vocals), Javier Mas (stringed instruments), The Webb Sisters (vocals), Roscoe Beck (bass), and Rafael Bernardo Gayol (drums) all following. Speaking of The Webb Sisters, their heavenly duet on "If It Be Your Will" is pure McGarrigle Sisters, almost completely sung in harmony with one or two unison lines for accent. The duo has another shining albeit brief moment backing Cohen's Kris Kristofferson-voiced take on the traddy, "Whither Thou Goest," after which you realize you've been attending the artist's dark Revival.

"I was drinking with my old teacher...he's 102 now," Cohen states while introducing "Tower Of Song." "He was 97 at the time. I poured him a drink, he clinked my glass and said, 'Excuse me for not dying,' and I kinda feel the same way...I wanna thank you for the many years that you've kept my songs alive." Cohen announces this like a man who is about to take off somewhere, like Bill Adama with Laura Roslin (shameless Battlestar Galactica reference). But like he did with his 102-year-old mentor, you just want to buy the guy a drink and assure him he ain't goin' nowhere, so pipe down. And if that really were the case, he's probably leaving bordello-style like his scene in "Closing Time" in which "...the women tear their blouses off and the men dance in (their) polka dots." In any case, what a cannon he someday will be leaving behind. In "Bird On A Wire," Cohen's overly-matured voice sings, "If I have been unkind, I hope that you can just let it go by, if I have been untrue, I hope you know it was never to you." He's done neither, although he has brutalized us over the years with wisdom, sincerity, and honesty, something he should never, ever apologize for.

"Live in London" (Columbia) B: B

Boston Herald - March 30, 2009 by Kevin R. Convey

For a guy who doesn't provide many surprises onstage, Cohen has made his share of live albums, issuing three between 1973 and 2001. With no new music to whet appetites for his current tour (at the Wang Theatre May 29), this double-CD set (also available on DVD) from the poet/singer/songwriter's 2008 European tour serves the needs of commerce if not art. "Live" features a big, exceptionally graceful band, hair-raising backup vocals from Sharon Robinson and a wide-ranging, two-and-a-half-hour performance that functions as a greatest hits package - if you can ignore the transformation of Cohen's voice into the world's loudest basso whisper. Download: "The Gypsy's Wife."

Leonard Cohen: Live in London (CD)

The Sunday Times (UK) - March 29, 2009 by Dan Cairns

* * * *
(Rated 4 stars out of 5)

The embezzlement of his life savings by his manager may have been the chief reason for Leonard Cohen's return to touring for the first time in 15 years, and the 700,000 tickets he sold were, no doubt, a boon to his bank balance. Yet, as this recording of the concert he gave on July 17 last year at London's 02 arena makes evident, Cohen's fans came together to celebrate rather than commiserate. Booted, suited and hatted, the Canadian exuded bonhomie and grace, treating the crowd to a three-hour run through that mighty back catalogue. The absence of classics such as One of Us Cannot Be Wrong and Dress Rehearsal Rag still causes pangs, though these are offset by the presence of Bird on a Wire, So Long, Marianne, Suzanne, Sisters of Mercy, Hallelujah, Dance Me to the End of Love et al.

The humour that has always coursed through Cohen's songs alongside the famous melancholia is nicely captured in his quip about the last time he had stood on a London stage, "when I was just a 60-year-old kid with a crazy dream". Welcoming his audience to the enormodrome his finances compelled him to play in, he described it as "a place just the other side of intimacy". Cohen's great achievement on his world tour was to shrink and personalise such venues, an achievement this wonderful double album captures faithfully and movingly.

Columbia 88697405022 (2 CDs)

Leonard Cohen: Live in London (DVD)

The Sunday Times (UK) - March 28, 2009 by Pete Paphides

* * * *
(Rated 4 stars out of 5)

Lest successive generations struggle to grasp the extent of Leonard Cohen's resurgence in 2008, Live in London offers abundant evidence that the outpouring of affection was as real as the amused delight with which Cohen met it.

Between versions of Ain't No Cure for Love and Everybody Knows, awash in their creator's phlegmatic fatalism, he ponders his previous London shows: "I was 60 years old, just a kid with a crazy dream." The more gnarled his voice gets, the more gracefully it sits atop a sonic mercury bed of his ever-present female vocalists.

It's as though Cohen finds himself engaged in a constant struggle to come to terms with how well the waxing invocations of Who by Fire and the now-ubiquitous Hallelujah scrub up as modern folk songs. And yet, listening to him pick them off like a reluctant marksman, it sounds as if they have been there since the dawn of time. Rather, in fact, like the man who wrote them.


Halleluja, Halleluhuhuja

Berliner Zeitung - March 28, 2009 by Frank Junghänel

Zunächst einmal darf man sich freuen, dass Leonard Cohen noch am Leben ist. Nicht, dass man sich akute Sorgen um die Fitness des alten Mannes machen müsste. Die Freude hat ihren Ursprung in einem Ereignis, das nunmehr zweiunddreiβig Jahre zurückliegt, einem aber jetzt erst so richtig zu denken gibt. Cohen nahm damals das Album "Death of a Ladies' Man" auf und sein Produzent Phil Spector wollte das Thema der Platte offenbar wörtlich nehmen. Eines wohl nicht sehr schönen Abends empfing er den Künstler mit einer Flasche koscheren Rotweins in der einen Hand und einem Revolver in der anderen. Er legte zärtlich einen Arm um Cohens Schulter; es war der Arm, an dessen Ende sich die Hand mit der Weinflasche befand. Die revolverbewehrte Hand führte er an Cohens Hals. Er hielt ihm den kalten Stahl ins Genick und sagte: "Leonard, ich liebe dich." Cohen erinnert sich daran, erwidert zu haben: "Das hoffe ich, Phil". Vielleicht ist das auch nur eine gute Pointe.

Eine Pointe, die der Schauspielerin Lana Clarkson nicht gestattet war. Seit Mittwoch tagen die Geschworenen in Los Angeles in ihrem Fall. Phil Spector wird beschuldigt, die Frau erschossen zu haben. In ihrem Abschlussplädoyer nannte die Anklägerin den Musikproduzenten einen "teuflisch Verrückten". Bitte jetzt nicht falsch verstehen, aber nur ein teuflisch Verrückter konnte so teuflisch verrückte Musik produzieren wie Phil Spector. Aber es müssen ja nicht gleich Menschen dabei sterben. Leonard Cohen jedenfalls hat die Platte "Death of a Ladies' Man", die er seinerzeit nur knapp überlebte, herzlich gehasst und so gut wie nie einen Song daraus live aufgeführt.

Auch nicht bei seinem Konzert in Berlin, womit diese Betrachtung endlich lebensbejahenden Charakter annimmt. So lebensbejahend wie heute war Cohen in seinem ganzen Leben noch nicht. über sein Gastspiel vom Herbst vergangenen Jahres, das den Dabeigewesenen wie eine Erscheinung vorkam, ist viel Gutes, Wahres und Schönes geschrieben worden. Doch bei allem Respekt vor der Schrift geht doch nichts über Musik - vor allem, wenn es um Musik geht.

So trifft es sich gut, dass das Konzert vom letzten Jahr nun im Rahmen einer DVD zu hören und zu sehen ist. Aufgenommen wurde es in der O2-Arena, allerdings jener von London, was aber nur aus geografischen Gründen eine Rolle spielt. Das Programm dort war das selbe wie in Berlin und achtzig weiteren Städten hier und da, auch die Gestik, Kniefall, gezückter Hut, gefasster Blick.

Aber jetzt nicht kleinlich werden. Cohen ist ja kein Ausdruckstänzer und auch kein Improvisateur. Er ist ein weiser Mann, kein Unterhaltungskünstler. Seine Souveränität erlaubt es ihm, in jedem Moment zugleich bei sich und seinem Publikum zu sein. Er streunt auf der Bühne herum, lauscht der Musik seiner Band und flüstert Lieder. Der letzte Song heiβt "I tried to leave you". Das wird ihm niemals gelingen.

Alleluia, Halleluhuhuja

Berliner Zeitung - March 28, 2009 by Frank Junghänel

Album: Leonard Cohen, Live in London (Columbia)

The Independent (UK) - March 27, 2009 by Andy Gill

* * * * *
(Rated 5 stars out of 5)

"It's wonderful to be gathered here, on just the other side of intimacy," murmurs Leonard Cohen as he takes the stage for one of last year's hugely successful UK shows.

It's a line which encapsulates the essence of Cohen's late-blooming appeal — as if the audience were gathered here with him, rather than for him — and the wry reference to the intimacy which has been his stock-in-trade for the past four decades, here humorously attenuated to fit the amusingly outsize venues he found himself playing at this late stage of his career.

But what becomes immediately apparent listening to this wonderful double-album is that Cohen is possessed of a rare and remarkable ability to make colossal venues like the Royal Albert Hall and even the O2 Dome shrink to about the size of a police-box — or, more appropriately, a suburban boudoir. Blessed with the most sensual basso profundo since Barry White, he makes the act of singing for thousands seem like pillow-talk for one's ears alone. For confirmation, just listen to the mighty roar of acclaim which greets the now-famous line from "Tower Of Song" about being "born with the gift of a golden voice": it's because every member of his audience is, in a sense, there alone with Leonard as he croons through romantic favourites like "Sisters Of Mercy", "Suzanne", "I'm Your Man", "Hey, That's No Way To Say Goodbye" and "Ain't No Cure For Love", or shares the world-weary wit of "Everybody Knows" and "Democracy".

For so long derided as an inconsolable melancholic fit only to soundtrack the wrist-slitting despair of terminal depressives, Cohen has been reassessed over the last couple of decades as one of pop's subtlest comic talents, the mordancy of his humour sometimes too dark to recognise as droll. Here, his comedic gift is best demonstrated by the timing he brings to his onstage patter.

He opens the set with a one-two sucker-punch combination that effectively maps out the parameters of his art, the unalloyed romantic devotion of "Dance Me To The End Of Love" followed immediately by the bitter, dystopian sardonicism of "The Future". From there on, there's barely a slack moment in the 26 songs, rendered with unassuming grace by the 10-piece band.

His collaborator Sharon Robinson steps up to share "In My Secret Life" and "Boogie Street", and the faint echo of several thousand other collaborators is dimly discernible on many of the tracks, notably a "Hallelujah" which bests even John Cale's statuesque version, and reclaims the song from reality-show imposters and usurpers.

Live in London (2009)

Entertainment Weekly - March 25, 2009 by Jason Adams

At 74, Leonard Cohen may no longer be — as he sings on ''So Long, Marianne'' — cold as a new razor blade. But listening to this double CD, recorded last summer, it's clear he's still cool as a cucumber. Both an older, wiser counterpart to The Essential Leonard Cohen and, based on one recent concert, a quip-forquip preview of his spring tour, Live in London is a reminder that Cohen is as gifted a performer as he is a songwriter.


Dlugo oczekiwana premiera Cohena... na zywo w Londynie!

Radio Laweczka - April 22, 2009

Od ponad czterech dekad Leonard Cohen uznawany jest za jednego z najwazniejszych i najbardziej wplywowych wspólczesnych twórców muzyki. Artyste, którego tajemnicza z poczatku twórczosc z czasem nabiera wartosci i znaczenia. Jego piosenki poruszaja szereg tak istotnych kwestii w zyciu czlowieka, jak duchowosc, seks, religia czy wladza. Nie boi sie zadawac delikatnych pytan, wiedzac jak trudne moga byc na nie odpowiedzi.

Caly jego zyciorys i kariere artystyczna mozna uznac za podróz ku zglebieniu tajemnic ludzkiej psychiki, jak i próbe wytlumaczenia, skad po dzis dzien udaje mu sie porywac kolejne pokolenia sluchaczy.

W 2008 roku Leonard Cohen wyruszyl w pierwsza od 15 lat trase koncertowa. Bilety na pierwsze 29 wystepów sprzedaly sie w oka mgnieniu − noc w kazdym miejscu okazala sie magicznym wydarzeniem, o którym glosno bylo jeszcze przez nastepne dni. Cohen zachwycil fanów i krytyków tak bardzo, ze trasa wydluzona zostala jeszcze o ponad 50 koncertów, w ramach których artysta zawital do Polski i na najwazniejszy mlodziezowy brytyjski festiwal - Glastonbury. W sumie obejrzalo go lacznie 700 tysiecy osób.

30 Marca ukaze sie 'Live In London' - pierwsze wydawnictwo Leonarda Cohena od czasu wydanej w 2004 r. plyty 'Dear Heather'. Album dostepny w formie pojedynczego DVD oraz na dwóch plytach CD jest zapisem koncertu z 17 lipca ub. r. z londynskiej O2 Arena − jedynej z najwiekszych koncertowych sal Europy, idealnie oddajacej emocje towarzyszace wystepowi Cohena. Przeglad utworów z ponad 40-letniego repertuaru artysty w wersji 'live' to gwarancja niezapomnianych przezyc takze w zaciszu domowym.

Pamiatka dla tych, którzy widzieli barda na zywo i idealny prezent (w przystepnej cenie!) dla wszystkich, którzy nie mieli takiej okazji.

Cohen's long-awaited premiere of ... Live in London!

Radio Laweczka - April 22, 2009

For over four decades, Leonard Cohen is considered one of the most important and influential artists of modern music. The artist, whose mysterious from the beginning of the work in time takes the value and importance. His songs move so a number of important issues in human life, and spirituality, sex, religion, or power. Not afraid to ask sensitive questions, knowing how difficult it can be an answer.

The whole of his biography and artistic career can be regarded as a journey towards zglebieniu mysteries of the human psyche, and attempt to explain why to this day he manages to catch the next generation of listeners.

In 2008 years Leonard Cohen embarked on the first 15 years tour. Tickets for the first 29 performances sold out in no time - night at any place was a magical event, which was still loud in the next days. Cohen delighted fans and critics so much that the route has yet been extended by more than 50 concerts, in which the artist visited, among others the Polish and the most important British youth festival - Glastonbury. In total, watched it a total of 700 thousand people.

30 March will be released 'Live In London' - Leonard Cohen's first release since the 2004 album 'Dear Heather'. Album available as a single DVD and two CDs is a recording of a concert of 17 July last year from London's O2 Arena - the only one of the biggest concert halls of Europe, perfectly renders the excitement of overhand Cohen. Review of works with more than 40-year-old artist's repertoire in the version of 'live' to guarantee an unforgettable experience in the comfort of home.

remembrance for those who saw the bard live and the perfect gift (and affordable!) for all those who did not have such an opportunity.


Karizmatik s glasom poput samoga boga

Jutarnji - May 10, 2009 by Aleksandar Dragaš

Nakon petnaestak godina izbivanja kanadski pjesnicki bard Leonard Cohen u sklopu svoje povratnicke i u medijima iznimno hvaljene turneje vratio se i u London, ovaj put na scenu nove, goleme O2 Arene na kojoj je snimio dvostruki koncertni album "Live In London" koji predstavlja mnogo više od usputnog suvenira s koncerta za one koji su uspjeli nabaviti ulaznicu za neki od Cohenovih prošlogodišnjih nastupa, kao i one kojima to nije pošlo za rukom.

Niz nevolja, ukljucivši i menadzera koji ga je opelješio za nekih pet milijuna dolara, nagnale su Cohena (75) da kucni ogrtac i fotelju zamijeni odijelom i pozornicom na kojoj, unatoc dubokoj starosti, fascinantnom suverenošcu i dubokim, autoritativnim, dramaticnim glasom iznova zavlada svojim antologijskim pjesmama u fino podmazanim aranzmanima i toplim, organskim izvedbama deveteroclanog benda.

Ocjena: 4 i pol  Godine koje su prohujale kao da su ga ucinile još šarmantnijim i uvjerljivijim, baš poput starih knjizevnika koji su napokon docekali kandidaturu za Nobelovu nagradu.

Iako duhovit i lezeran u konverzaciji s publikom ("posljednji put kad sam nastupio u Londonu imao sam šezdeset godina, bio sam tek djecarac opijen ludim snom"), karizmaticni Cohen se iznova potvrduje kao veliki majstor u pjesnickom oslikavanju zivotnih posrtanja, pokajanja i katarze. S tim glasom, iako oduvijek limitiranim u opsegu, danas doista zvuci onako kako je valjda oduvijek i zelio - poput samoga boga.

With a charismatic voice, like God himself

Jutarnji - May 10, 2009 by Aleksandar Dragaš

After fifteen years of absence, the Canadian poet bard Leonard Cohen as part of their reunion in the media highly praised tour and returned to London, this time on a new scene, the enormous O2 Arena where he recorded a double live album "Live In London" which is much more than casual souvenirs to show for those who managed to obtain tickets for some of Cohen's last year's performance, as well as those who do not succeed. A series of troubles, including managers who had opelješio for some five million dollars, were forced by Cohen (75) that bathrobe and armchairs suit and replace the stage where, despite the very old, fascinating sovereignty and deep, authoritative, dramatic voice again reigned in his famous songs in greased fine arrangements and warm, organic nine-band performances. In that swept like that made ??it even more charm and more convincing, just like the old writers who finally got the nomination for the Nobel Prize. Although humorous and relaxed in conversation with the audience ("the last time I played in London, I had sixty years , was I'm just intoxicated boy crazy dream "), a charismatic Cohen is again confirmed as a great master of poetic painting life blunders, contrition and catharsis. With that voice, though always limited in scope, today really sound as good as it probably has always wanted - like God Himself.

Live in London shows Cohen's energy, strength

The Daily Gleaner (Fredericton, NB) - May 16, 2009 by Wilfred Langmaid

Live CD and DVD | They are from the tour that started in Fredericton a year ago

Leonard Cohen: Live In London - Sony Music

It was just over one year ago - May 11, 2008 - that Leonard Cohen began his first tour in a decade and a half right here in Fredericton. That show was a triumph, and it was a harbinger of a world tour that is still going strong and getting rave reviews across the board.

The tour now has a beautiful document for posterity - a release of a show last summer in London available either in two-CD or one-DVD format.

We saw the template here in Fredericton - 20 songs - and this set follows the same structure in a slightly fleshed out 25-song set from July 17.

Both shows revealed the same thing. There is no one like Cohen and, sad though it is to say, it is our good fortune that he got fleeced out of his savings by his former manager earlier this decade. Coming out of retirement with an ace band, he skitters with unique grace across his career.

The Live In London concert is heavy on his material from three consecutive albums -1984's Various Positions, 1988's I'm Your Man, and 1992's The Future. It is fleshed out with career-launching tracks from the 1960s and a sprinkling of songs from his four albums of the 1970s and from his 2001 album Ten New Songs.

The energy and strength of Cohen was really the Fredericton concert's most pleasant surprise. He was in fine voice all night long, and his enthusiasm never flagged. That has been the hallmark of the entire tour, and it can be just as emphatically stated for the Live In London document.

His reputation for dour joylessness is, meanwhile, eschewed with his charming and witty between-song banter, and by the way he carries himself visually on the DVD.

Roscoe Beck (bass and vocals, music director), Neil Larsen (keyboard, accordion, brass instruments), Bob Metzger (guitar, steel guitar, vocals), Javier Mas (acoustic guitar, oud and string instruments), Rafael Gayol (drums and percussion) and Dino Soldo (keyboard, saxophone, wind instruments, vocals) are all master musicians who deliver nary a wasted note.

Mas, Larsen, and Beck are the bedrock musicians in the team. Mas' skills with banduria, laud, archilaud, and 12-string guitar are intense beyond description, most notably on a late first set version of 1974's Who By Fire and an early second set version of 1979's The Gypsy's Wife.

Beck's arrangements are sometimes jarringly inventive - such as the move of So Long Marianne from his 1967 debut album Songs Of Leonard Cohen from 3/4 time to a 4/4 with some cadence shifts - but everything works like a charm.

Meanwhile, the Hammond B3 work of Larsen on some songs is both key and a welcome lift to the synth heavy template of Cohen's post 70s studio work presented live. There are lots of examples, but Anthem from The Future and the now ubiquitous Hallelujah from Various Positions particularly stand out.

Of the three backing vocalists, the shining star is Sharon Robinson. She has sung with him off and on through the years, and was co-credited with him on Ten New Songs.

Live In London is a perfect document of a triumphant reunion - and a great memory bringer to those of who were part of that blessed throng here at The Playhouse just one year ago.

Fredericton-based freelance writer Wilfred Langmaid has reviewed albums in The Daily Gleaner since 1981, and is a past judge for both the Junos and the East Coast Music Awards. His column appears each Saturday.

Live in London

Things I Like - May 29, 2009

I remember first being exposed to Leonard Cohen (at least consciously) in a grade 11 English class, where we all laughed at his odd voice (early Cohen - Suzanne to be exact), and the teacher got quite annoyed with us, as we weren't really listening. I have no idea what the purpose of the lesson was, but some of the lyrics stuck with me.

A couple of years later, Cohen's voice was used to fantastic effect on the soundtrack to the movie 'Natural Born Killers', prompting me to hunt down 'The Future' and to read his novel 'Beautiful Losers'. At that point, I became a fan for life.

This double-disk album was recorded recently in London during a massive concert Cohen held there. When you consider his age, it's unlikely that there will be many more opportunities for Cohen to put on a show of this nature, and so it is very good that we have such a well-recorded record of his brilliance.

The show sounds like it was a lot of fun, and Cohen still sounds fantastic throughout. There are a couple of songs that seem unnecessary, but there aren't any major omissions (except for 'Famous Blue Raincoat', which I would have loved to have heard on here). The applause and between-song banter can get a little tiring, keeping this disk from getting a lot of play, but as a document of one particular night, this is a very important cd to own.

Dance me to the end of, erm, the Greenwich Peninsula

Record Collector - June 2009 by Terry Staunton

***** (of *****)

Had X factor been years earlier in jump-starting the fortunes of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah - resulting in tidy royalties from three versions scaling the singles charts to varying heights - the song's writer might never have played this wonderful show at the O2 Arena. He's gone on record saying he was swindled out of close to $5 million and needed to beef up his pension fund, so the 73-year old staged his first tour for 15 years.

It's unthinkable now to entertain the notion of that tour not happening. Out of financial necessity came a truly stunning series of concerts, including this mesmerising performance from last July, one of the most talked-about in the capital in long time. The ease and power with which Cohen revisited 26 of his greatest songs over two-and-a-half spellbinding hours left all who saw it awe-struck.

He looks great for a septuagenarian, sharp-suited with dark fedora on greying temples, like a veteran spy in a John le Carre novel. The gravel voice caresses every number with tenderness, punctuated by a nifty line in comic patter, at one point listing the medications, philosophies and religions which failed him because "cheerfulness kept breaking through". Live DVD of the year. no contest.

The Lieder of Leonard

Lit Net (South Africa) - June 25, 2009 by Pieter Uys

He jogs up the stairs to join the ensemble. Looking dapper and groomed in their suits, they are ready and eager to unleash Leonard's Lieder in this unusually vast chamber. Even the lovely female vocalists are formally attired, setting a splendid visual standard for a night of a thousand harmonies. Everything about this extraordinary DVD impresses. There's the breathtaking cinematography, the expert and seamless editing that strikes a perfect balance between shots of Lenny, the musicians, the instruments as they are being played, the graceful backing singers and the appreciative audience.

The lighting too, meets the mood of the music as it bathes the stage in blue, green, red, royal purple or golden brown. Instruments like the banduria and archilaud add new dimensions to the sound, while the instrumental and vocal arrangements refresh and rejuvenate old songs. The angelic voices of Sharon Robinson and the Webb Sisters caress the lyrics throughout, but with particularly arresting effect on "Ain't No Cure For Love", "In My Secret Life", "Anthem", "Closing Time" and "Hallelujah".

On the solemn "Who By Fire" the camera perfectly complements the sounds of the archilaud, keyboards, stand-up bass and - most impressively - the sitar as Hattie Webb plucks the strings. The same happens with the harmonica on "Hey That's No Way To Say Goodbye". What's more, the audience resonates with LC's every word between songs, whether it be witty or just wonderful. He wisely chooses wit when introducing the disturbing or apocalyptic ones like "The Future" and "Everybody Knows". The first part of the concert concludes with "Anthem", a sublime collision of sound and vision with a lengthy outro in which Leonard acknowledges the individual musicians. He does that often throughout the performance.

The proceedings resume with a good laugh or two, whereupon Leonard humbly thanks the audience for keeping his songs alive down the years. Ecstatic applause erupts as he sings the ironic line "born with the gift of a golden voice" in "Tower of Song". Then the stage darkens for a melancholy Suzanne before a long banduria solo introduces "The Gypsy's Wife", on which he plays the guitar. Next, "Sharon Robinson" brings soul to "Boogie Street" by singing lead. The studio recording of "Hallelujah" sounds like a demo compared with this version, which flows, moves and embraces the listener within its exquisitely woven textures.

Leonard recites some stanzas of "Democracy" before the ensemble renders it in a robust and rhythmic way; "A Thousand Kisses Deep" is recited in full with only keyboard backing. The stage comes alive for "Take This Waltz" as he interacts with the musicians before settling into a duet with the blond Webb Sister that becomes an audiovisual delight. The upbeat mood lasts through a rousing rendition of "So Long Marianne"; it is abruptly displaced by the subdued resignation of "Sisters of Mercy" which is, however, simultaneously tender and reassuring.

For the third time, Leonard recites - the first few lines of "If It Be Your Will". Then he hands the prayer to the Webb Sisters, who accompany themselves on harp and guitar for a supranuminous performance. From the divine to the irreverent, the pace picks up for the buoyant "Closing Time" as the singers sway and the music swirls to the catchy tune. At the end, all the musicians join voices on the comforting conclusion, "Whither Thou Goest".

July 17, 2008 was clearly a night to remember for those present. Fortunately, enough of the magic is captured here to make one watch this DVD over and over again. The booklet contains a gig review by John Aizlewood, plenty of full-colour photographs, the track listing and credits. All the lyrics are available on the disc.

Unbeautiful Winner: Leonard Cohen

Barnes and Noble Review - August 17, 2009 by Robert Christgau

As someone who admired poet Leonard Cohen's second and last novel Beautiful Losers in 1966, before Cohen was a recording artist or I was a music critic, I followed Cohen's musical career with admiration from the beginning. But the admiration was always cut with skepticism -- a skepticism that the focus and reach and three-hour duration of his February 19 comeback concert at Manhattan's Beacon Theater blew away. My conversion experience was far from the only one that night, and proved replicable -- when Cohen stopped in Seattle two months later, a friend walked in with my level of show-me and left with my level of holy-moley. Having kicked off the U.S. phase of a world tour already nine months old, the Beacon concert was soon followed by Live in London, a double-CD and/or DVD vividly documenting pretty much the same songs and stage business I'd witnessed. It prepared the way for two sold-out May concerts at NYC's much larger Radio City Music Hall, which will be followed in turn by, holy moley, an October 23 appearance at Madison Square Garden. Tickets begin at $113 and top out at $4,800. Crave a little conversion? Pony up.

Scheduled to turn 75 September 21, Cohen is on a roll that began five years ago, when he found out his money was gone. The somewhat murky story begins in 1994 after his last previous tour, which left him so exhausted that, as is his wont, he decided to transform his life. So he relocated for five years -- five years! -- to a Zen monastery on Mount Baldy in California, where he assisted his longtime guru Joshu Sasaki Roshi and was ordained a monk in 1996. Cash flow much diminished, he was persuaded by his manager and friend Kelley Lynch to sell his catalogue to Sony in 1997, and once off the mountain set up a foundation to protect his assets from the taxman. In 2004 he learned by happenstance that the foundation had been drained of funds, and although Cohen eventually won a $9.5 million judgment against Lynch, who by 2005 was claiming she was homeless, he hasn't been able to collect.

Cohen clearly got screwed. But if it's hard not to sympathize when the creator of a lament as gorgeous and profound as "Bird on the Wire" will never see another penny from it, it's also hard not to snicker when a tax shelter goes belly up. The just plain sympathetic part came with this tour, as Cohen, having envisioned an old age of comfortable seclusion, transformed himself into a public workhorse. A rabbi's grandson who still keeps Sabbath yet has always been fascinated by the redemption myths of the Catholics who dominate his primordial Montreal, he was born again by going back to work.

Cohen never intended to shut down altogether. In early 2001 he released Field Commander Cohen, a circa-1979 live CD sprucer than 1994's Cohen Live!, and then, shortly after September 11, put out his first studio album since 1992's The Future. In historical context, the brave pessimism and sage metaphysics of Ten New Songs seemed so prophetic that it should have been called The Future II. But Cohen's unbeautiful voice proved so sere it was swamped by the attendant women on 2004's Dear Heather, where a Lord Byron cover and "Tennessee Waltz" outshone originals so paltry that not one was deemed worthy of the tour four years later. In 2005, awash in lawsuits, Cohen talked up Blue Alert, his collaboration with jazz singer Anjani Thomas, who happened to be his attorney's ex- wife as well as his own current consort. But it barely sold, and only the title track belongs in the same sentence with any number of songs Cohen has composed with backup-singer-turned-producer Sharon Robinson. In a long, eloquent 2005 interview for Norwegian radio -- the Marianne of "So Long, Marianne" comes from Norway, and he's a chart-topper there -- Cohen reported that he'd begun a new album, which, unsurprisingly, never materialized: "I'm scraping the bottom of the barrel. I need ten songs, you know, I have to fill up 50 minutes, and you want it to be good."

In the same interview, Cohen explained with practiced humility, "I just keep working until something arises that is better than me. . . . Sometimes the songs are really good, sometimes they are okay, I hope." One hopes that after this tour is over, Cohen will invest his accumulated wealth circumspectly and that by late 2010 the impressive snatches he's played visitors will add up to a really good album. His voice has revived -- exercise has been good for it, and where in the '90s he was still learning how to sing loud after decades of milking his refined croak for intimacy, now he can declaim in moderation. He's had more trials not involving the nearness of death than anyone past 70 should bear. And the evidence suggests that he was ordained for cause -- that he's finally achieved equanimity without peacing out.

Rock and roll has produced a surprising bounty of old men with something to say. Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Lou Reed, Randy Newman -- rather than credibly courting eternal youth a la Mick Jagger and Paul McCartney, these seniors explore the aging process with an edge that's been rare in pop music, where nostalgia is such a staple. Cohen fits this paradigm, with two significant differences. The first is that he's rock and roll only by association. He's really a Gallic chansonnier, in it for the lyrics rather than the liberating musical intensity even Dylan has made a vocation. The second is that he was always old -- older than Elvis and also more sophisticated, the kind of artist you'd look up to at 24 only to find yourself surprisingly, alarmingly entering his age group four decades later.

These disjunctures only strengthen Live in London. Cohen launched his recapitalization armed with a decades-spanning body of really good songs that his cult deserved to hear. Spirit calmed, voice weathered by exposure, arrangements honed by wisdom and practice, he was positioned to revisit this oeuvre without risk of generational grotesquerie, because he'd written from the vantage of maturity to begin with. As always, the DVD provides neither the full social immersion of the concert nor the provocative abstraction of the sound recording, but at least you get to see Cohen trot on stage (at my show, he skipped off), and the worshipful close-ups of concentrating soloists are less banal than usual because the songs reward that kind of attention. The CDs, however, are definitive. There's more really good Cohen out there, and individual albums going back to 1968's Songs of Leonard Cohen remain very much worth hearing. But the thoughtfulness of everyone involved renders the new recordings aurally consistent and verbally definitive. Circumstances rarely afford artists the chance to leave a testament. Live in London comes pretty close.

In someone of Cohen's long-term accomplishment, that's plenty. But it leaves the content of the bequest open to scrutiny. The standard objections cite Cohen's bummer quotient -- his supposedly terrible voice and his supposedly unremitting pessimism. Me, I've always enjoyed his sprechgesang, which he shares to some extent with all the old men on my short list except the goy (who oddly enough is Canadian). True, God gave Dylan, Reed, and arguably Newman more physical voice. But not even the Reed of "Candy Says" has better simulated the one-on-one whisper, and at his most clownish Newman can't match Cohen's deft self-mockery. That's why Cohen's pessimism has never bummed me. Of course this isn't party music. But the best of the darker songs are so well-stated they're bracing too -- the poet's version of Gramsci's optimism of the will -- and in album format they share time with a Jewish-Buddhist fatalist's spiritually advanced form of gallows humor.

Musical and philosophical questions remain, however. Hardly a master tunesmith, Cohen has nevertheless created, rejiggered, reappropriated, and partnered into existence a body of melody without which his songwriting would mean little. But just as he never aims for rock and roll release, he maintains a distance from that melody -- he doesn't inhabit a song like his beau ideal Hank Williams or his formal counterpart John Prine. Crucial to the distance are the backup girls on whom he so skillfully, respectfully, and obsessively relies. This is limiting, and Cohen knows it: "I ran with Diz and Dante/But I never had their sweep," shrugs the Zen poet who situates Hank Williams 100 floors above himself in the tower of song. And thematically there are also limits, as Cohen's female helpmates make manifest.

There are Cohen chroniclers, especially literary ones, who prove how worldly they are by treating his interest in sex as an amusing side issue. But even up against Mick Jagger and Marvin Gaye, Prince and Madonna, Cohen qualifies as a devout erotomane. For its fleeting moment Beautiful Losers was radiantly graphic, and I challenge anyone to name another songpoet so fond of the word "naked." In one of his few stupid public pronouncements, Cohen told the New York Times in 1968 that only after sharing an orgasm with a woman did he believe he'd met her, and at 50 he was still averring that only women kept him sane on the road. At the Beacon, my sense of oneness with my fellow communicants was disrupted by the knowing cheers that greeted two raunchy lines: "giving me head in the unmade bed" and "if you want a doctor I'll examine every inch of you."

Now, I think intellectuals underrate sex myself, and to each her or his own. Cohen loves women, and women often love him back -- fine. But I sense that many of Cohen's male fans get a vicarious kick out of his multifarious affairs that doesn't bring them any closer to the goal articulated by his most crucial backup singer, Jennifer Warnes, whose 1987 tribute album Famous Blue Raincoat helped revive his career: "the place where God and sex and literature meet." The only friend I've ever had who was a major Cohen devotee is also the only friend I've ever had to make a play for my wife. That's not what I mean by to each his or her own. I want to take sex seriously my way, not Leonard Cohen's way -- much less his fanmen's way.

Striking, isn't it, that even musician Warnes brings up literature. Granted, her quote arrives via Cohen's biographer, Canadian English prof Ira B. Nadel, whose valuable if unexpectedly dated 1994 Various Positions could be hipper musically. But I've been reading Cohen as well as listening, and it's been a pleasure except for my second pass through Beautiful Losers, which for all its serial orgasms and multivocal texts lacks narrative generosity. "Skip over the parts you don't like," Cohen advises readers of the new Chinese translation in 2006's Book of Longing, a self-illustrated miscellany billed as his first poetry collection since 1984 -- a delightful profit-taker that includes droll reports on the monastic life; an erotic appreciation of his May-December love object Rebecca de Mornay; a "Thank You Ruler of the World/Thank you for calling me Honey" for a waitress seen in a double mirror; and such epigrams as "oh and one more thing/you aren't going to like/what comes after America" and "life is a drug that stops working."

There are also a few lyrics, including a Dear Heather quickie that begins "Because of a few songs/wherein I spoke of their mystery/women have been/exceptionally kind/to my old age," gets better, and has it all over the recorded version. Due to envy, snobbery, and the devotion to rhyme and scansion that impelled him toward the pop charts, Cohen gets small respect as a poet, but unlike most song lyrics, his do read. Unfortunately, the best proof isn't for sale in the U.S.: Omnibus Press's alphabetical Lyrics of Leonard Cohen, 113 all told, and fascinating to down in that arbitrary order. Known masterpieces like "Dance Me to the End of Love," "Famous Blue Raincoat," "Anthem," and "A Thousand Kisses Deep" demand and reward instant rereading. Songs from a Room, Death of a Ladies' Man, and Dear Heather read as flat as they'd always sounded. Songs from 1984's Various Positions suggest that maybe Columbia refused that album because the performances didn't do them justice.

Most interesting, however, was to then read Yeats, who Cohen loves. Yeats smoked him, of course -- Yeats smokes everybody. Still, the evolution from the lissome flow of "The Lake Isle of Innisfree" to the steely reassessment of "Vacillation" certainly paralleled the shifts in tone and line I'd felt as old Cohen lyrics followed hard upon newer ones. Cohen went up the mountain to learn how to cast a cold eye, then came down and found himself compelled to tell us about it. And without losing what had been learned, his eye warmed a little. That's a long-term accomplishment worth cheering.

43 years of skepticism: Christgau on Cohen

Los Angeles Times - August 18, 2009 by Carolyn Kellogg

Robert Christgau is a legendary rock critic -- on his website, he calls himself the Dean of American Rock Critics -- and as he's been writing about music a long, long time, he's got the kind of experience and knowledge to bring to a review of the performance CD/DVD sets by 75 year-old Leonard Cohen.

But sometimes history can work against you. Christgau's column for the Barnes & Noble review begins:

As someone who admired poet Leonard Cohen's second and last novel "Beautiful Losers" in 1966, before Cohen was a recording artist or I was a music critic, I followed Cohen's musical career with admiration from the beginning. But the admiration was always cut with skepticism -- a skepticism that the focus and reach and three-hour duration of his February 19 comeback concert at Manhattan's Beacon Theater blew away.

If I read that right, Christgau has followed Cohen's career with admiration/skepticism since 1966.That's 43 years.

Is it that Cohen has suddenly changed? Perhaps -- Cohen has a constantly-evolving persona, and Christgau outlines his recent evolution from well-heeled troubadour to surprisingly broke monk to hardworking road performer.

But maybe it's because as a critic, Christgau has begun to want something different from Cohen. Later in his piece, he explains:

Rock and roll has produced a surprising bounty of old men with something to say. Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Lou Reed, Randy Newman -- rather than credibly courting eternal youth a la Mick Jagger and Paul McCartney, these seniors explore the aging process with an edge that's been rare in pop music, where nostalgia is such a staple. Cohen fits this paradigm, with two significant differences. The first is that he's rock and roll only by association. He's really a Gallic chansonnier, in it for the lyrics rather than the liberating musical intensity even Dylan has made a vocation. The second is that he was always old -- older than Elvis and also more sophisticated, the kind of artist you'd look up to at 24 only to find yourself surprisingly, alarmingly entering his age group four decades later.

Not to say that Cohen was in his 60s when Christgau was 24 (his age in the aforementioned critical year of 1966). But it seems that, four decades later, Christgau has caught up to Cohen, who really isn't that much older than him at all.

The Countdown of the Best Albums of 2009

The Times-Journal (DeKalb, IL) - January 12, 2010 by Mark Harrison

Continuing the countdown of the best albums of 2009. The top 10:...

01. Live In London, Leonard Cohen. This two-disc set recorded live at London's O2 Arena on July 17, 2008 kicked off the tour to help rebuild Cohen's retirement funds, embezzled by his business manager while he was away at a Buddhist monastery. Arguably the best live album ever recorded and largely the best-reviewed album released in 2009.

Leonard Cohen - Live in London

Album Reviews - February 20, 2010 by Smart Oss

Two things about this album, firstly it is one of the most enjoyable live recordings I have ever heard and secondly it is by an artist whose time has come. Recorded on 17th July 2008 at London's O2 Arena, 'Live in London' was released as a DVD and a two-CD set in March 2009. It has received rave reviews by the media and now in early 2010 he has received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award after being a singer/songwriter/performer for over 40 years.

I have to admit that more often than not I find live recordings disappointing. How often have we heard artists who can't hit their notes correctly on stage? The balance and sound quality is invariably not quite the same and the crowd noises are annoying. In addition, the live recording doesn't help you enjoy the atmosphere that was present. None of these criticisms apply here.

Firstly, you have to say that the Cohen voice is still as powerful and deep as it always has been, in fact there is probably an added timbre that now comes with over forty years of performing. Unlike other artists as they get older, this septuagenarian's singing now seems to suit his work more than it has ever done. Cohen has always had a maturity of thought way beyond his contemporaries, so the aged voice is somehow even more appropriate.

Secondly, the live audio quality of this recording is the best I have ever heard. There has been plenty of criticism about the acoustics at the O2 Arena but you can't detect any problems here at all. What's more listening to the album you wouldn't know it's a massive arena as the warmth and intimacy of the event is captured perfectly.

Lastly, the instrumentation on this album is absolutely exquisite. Cohen collaborated with ten of the finest musicians including Bob Metzger (guitar, steel guitar), Javier Mas (bandurria), Dino Soldo (saxophone, wind instruments) and the sublime voices of Sharon Robinson and the Webb Sisters, Hattie and Charley. The accompaniments alone make this album worth buying, even if you have the original versions you can't help but be impressed with how beautifully and sensitively these songs have been re-arranged. My only gripe and it's not really a criticism is that Cohen hasn't made use of strings in his little band, I would love to hear a violin or cello as I'm sure this would add another dimension.

My other point was that Cohen is appreciated by his audience more now than he has ever been. The music, spiritual but not sentimental, reflects the current popularity of poetry and anything related to mind, body and spirit. Cohen spent five years in a Zen Buddhist monastery in Japan between 1996 and 2001 and it has undoubtedly had an impact on his whole being. He has always had a presence but there is now an inner calm and peace which he can use to mesmerise his audience.

Cohen uses all his experience to win over the crowd. There's cleverness right from the start, welcoming his audience like guests with "it's wonderful to be gathered here just on the other side of intimacy." He chooses his words between the songs very carefully and his use of humour and wit never detracts from the mood he is trying to create. He ridicules his former depressions by naming all the anti-depressant drugs he has been on and reminisces about the last time he performed in London, 15 years previous when he says he was "a kid with a crazy dream." The patter is laid-back and droll but you can't help but love it.

He pampers the audience but his team of musicians as well. He knows exactly when to get the applause for his skilled performers. He has the timing of a true professional.

In the second half he recites some of this poetry including the incredibly moving "A Thousand Kisses Deep." You feel that this brings together a lot of aspects that are so important to him at the moment including love, anti-ego and ageing, "The ponies run, the girls are young The odds are there to beat You win a while and then it's done Your little winning streak And summoned now to deal With your invincible defeat You live your life as if it's real A thousand kisses deep."

There are too many excellent tracks on this album to mention them all. Suzanne, Bird on the Wire and So Long Marianne are classics from his two albums 'The Songs of Leonard Cohen' and 'Songs From A Room' in the late sixties. There are all his later favourites as well including Everybody Knows, The Gypsy's Wife, Anthem and Democracy. For anyone who has not yet found the works of this unique master there are 26 of his greatest songs over two and a half hours. If you missed the concert but have some of his records from the past, there is still plenty to enjoy here though.

List Inconsequential: Best Live Albums

Spectrum Culture - July 19, 2012 by David Harris

Live in London by Leonard Cohen (2009)

Leonard Cohen took the stage again in 2008 after discovering his business manager had stolen all of his savings while the singer spent time in a Buddhist monastery. Lucky us. On the double-disc Live in London collection, the septuagenarian includes 26 cuts from his multi-decade career. Bob Dylan once said that his earliest output was nothing but sketches to be filled in later by a full band, and Cohen's songs have never sounded more vital than they do here. Recorded at London's O2 Arena, the quality is crisp, the band is loose and Cohen's voice is clear and finely weathered. While the banter is more or less exactly the same as when I saw him live the next year in Seattle, the show still sounds alive and spontaneous despite Cohen's reputation for perfection. Live in London transcends the fate of most live albums which usually get one listen and then languish on the shelf. It is alive and breathing, a record in its own right that warrants repeated listens and it never fails to reward.

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