Photo by Josh Glasheen
A magnificent and ethereal triumph of music and majesty. The Canadian poet/singer/songwriter – Leonard Cohen is still the King of Cool.
In the past five decades, I’ve been privileged to attend some fabulous concerts – from the sublime (Pavarotti) to the surreal – the Rolling Stones and Roy Orbison singing together with Gene Pitney playing organ. I’ve been to concerts vowing never to watch the artist again (Bob Dylan and Tom Petty). But I have never experienced anything like the Leonard Cohen concert at Sandalford last Saturday night. – Greg Ross
Sandalford Winery in Perth, Western Australia was the perfect venue to consume the vast talent of Cohen in his emotional and triumphant return to Perth – his first visit in almost 24 years.
With the fading heat of the day, throngs of Cohen evangelists flocked to hear their messiah. Tingling with anticipation the crowd were treated to a fantastic performance by Paul Kelly ably accompanied by his Nephew Dan. The greatest Australian lyricist of modern times, bespectacled in an audience members sunglasses, enthused the growing crowd and intensified the palpable excitement.
Then, it happened.
The legend appeared on stage.
A wave of sheer emotion washed through the crowd and exploded onto the stage igniting the most humble and generous smiles on Cohens face. This enthusiastic surge of energy propelled Cohen and the band to arguably one of their finest shows of their world tour.
From their very first exultant gasp to the very last standing ovation the crowd synergized as one – united in the presence of greatness; united through the emotional roller-coaster of every song; united in empathy with every lyric and united in appreciation of the poetic genius of Cohen. It was without doubt, the most intense feeling of cohesive embodiment I have ever felt.
With no range to speak of, Cohen practically speaks the words – but he does so with alluring command. After more than 40 years as the butt of jokes about creating music to slit your wrists to, he still has the ability to show the difference between Leonard Cohen the writer and Leonard Cohen the performer. In a near three hour performance last night, he took back Hallelujah from Jeff Buckley, took back Bird on A Wire from Joe Cocker, took back Suzanne from Judy Collins and reclaimed First We Take Manhattan from Jennifer Warnes – Perth Now
If his voice is a simple tool, the same can not be said for his band, who were so good Cohen introduced them twice. His frequent collaborator Sharon Robinson delivered an unforgettable rendition of Boogie Street and combined magnificently with the Webb sisters in vocal trio.
With twisted arm – to define a musical highlight in this historic performance I could not go past the ephemeral and spellbinding rendition of ‘If It Be Your Will’ by the Webb sisters on acoustic guitar and harp. Cohen recited the first two verses, then the Webb Sisters produced the finest rendition I have ever heard of this masterful work. Gripped by emotion; locked in a trance and unable to fully inhale I joined 5000+ other souls on a journey to a higher musical plane – an extraordinary performance.
If it be your will
That I speak no more
And my voice be still
As it was before
I will speak no more
I shall abide until
I am spoken for
If it be your will
It is hard work having to put this concert in to words so I’ll just say something I have never said in a review before and will never say again: this was the best show I have ever seen.
Leonard Cohen Concert Set: