Postmortem on the two times I saw Leonard Cohen live in 2008

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Nov 6 2008, 23:32

This year I've had the great fortune of being able to see Leonard Cohen live twice; once in Helsingborg in the summer, and then later in Göteborg in the autumn. I don't for a second regret the money spent, and the time invested in this - the experience made up for that tenfold.

The Helsingborg concert was at a open air venue, and it was an absolutely beautiful summer night. I know this word is thrown around a lot in descriptions of Cohen's current tour, but it truly was a magical evening. Leonard seemed so at ease with himself, and eager to give the performance his all. He treated his material with respect, but at the same time he put it in proper perspective, and had a great time with it. What I remember most vividly from this night is Anthem, and how this track was introduced. I always liked this track, but after that night, I absolutely adore it.

In Göteborg, the experience was somewhat diminished since I knew what to expect, and as excellent as the jokes and interludes were, they seemed somehow artificial as I had heard it all before. But, just as in Helsingborg, he attacked the material with an almost religious fervor. I think that the older material (from the 60s and early 70s) works extremely well with the lower timbre Cohen sings in now, and I would actually greatly appreciate if he'd re-record some of those early tracks and release them - at the very least I'm hoping for an official live album from this tour.

Anyway, there was a lot of overlap between the two shows, but I don't mind that too much considering how good it was. And, since I got both Heart with No Companion (a truly great tune that suffers some from the production of Various Positions) and Avalanche in Göteborg, two favorites if mine, I'm satisfied with the changes in the set lists between the shows. I'd rather have the beautiful That Don't Make It Junk (which I know has been performed at other venues) than the boring Boogie Street and In My Secret Life from Ten New Songs, but what can you do...

The only song I really regret wasn't present in either of the shows is Joan of Arc, but you can't have it all, I guess. Perhaps he won't do that one without Jennifer Warnes.

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