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Some thoughts on Leonard Cohen at MSG October 23rd, 2009

Months after being disappointed by Leonard Cohen at Radio City Music Hall, I saw him again last night at Madison Square Garden. I’ve read the rave reviews by music critics,  a few of  whose whose opinions I respect very much-  and I’ve suffered through the slings and arrows of various Cohen cults and fanclubs -especially after I somewhat stupidly referred to him as a tenor. But I reviewed the show fairly thoroughly on this site, haven’t much changed my opinion, and see no point in doing a full length review. The only thing I will add right now is if the past six months have taught me anything it has taught me that Juliana Hatfield was absolutely right. Writers have their pet favorites and they lie about everybody else.  I am not paid for my opinion and I am not going to lie in order to join a pack of jackals.. .
*Leonard Cohen writes choruses that are as long as his verses and so the songs go on for seven to ten minutes on a consistent basis.
* Cohen’s instrumental break on “Bird On A Wire” was excellent and he should play electric guitar more often.
* First class backing band.
*Leonard  has always used back up singers and does so to great affect in order to give the songs the colors they require.
*Watching  him skipping across at the stage starts as an expression of exuberance and joy in the act of creation and ends up as schrick. It is an affectation in a long, long set that is filled with affectations.
* Sitting opposite me was a girl, couldn’t have been older than eleven, who spent the entire concert watching him thru binoculars.
* His jokes aren’t very funny -the Elvis Costello syndrome.
* Cohen annouces this may be his last concert in New York city and his last tour. He will be misses despite all my kvetching.
* Cohen looks like a perverted pixie but his suit is dapper and smart.
*At seventy five years of age his energy level is remarkable, his command of the stage complete, his persona seriously effervescent and his fans deeply in love with him. Me? I find him very difficult to warm up to. It is all very the New Yorker middlebrow blah blah blah. Everybody is so self-congratulatory, Cohen may have a reason to feel proud of himself but the smug audience sure don’t.
*The problem with being a poet cum songwriter is that sometimes you would be better off with poem instead of lyric. Has he rewritten “Anthem”? This is made to be a poem, the working metaphor is excellent  but the music gets in the way and the song is average Cohenism . “Forget your perfect offerring, there is a crack in everything ,that’s how the light gets in”. Smart stuff -but overused in the song (it is HALF of the chorus), .
*. Half an hour. After playing for an hour and a quarter he took a half hour break. That is a ridiculous amount of time. Don’t think so? Try holding your breath for half an hour. It kills all momentum and is beyond irritating.
*Cohen may well be a national treasure but it isn’t this nations.
*I loath people who take pride in stuff they didn’t accomplish. Including myself. Whether it is family, race, country, or Leonard Cohen, it is the starting point of all conflict.
* “Tower Of Song” is a great song . One of many. Shame he doesn’t tell his best joke live any more…
*”I have stumbled upon the answer…. do you want to hear the answer? Are you truly hungry for the answer? Than you are just the people I want to tell it to because it is a rare thing to come upon this and I’m going to let you in on it. The answer to the mysteries is : Do dum dum dum dum da do dum dum” – Leonard Cohen

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