Sunday, May 31, 2009
Leonard Cohen in Boston
I don't think I have the words to describe the show we saw on Saturday night. Sublime..Sensational..Exceptional...Transcendant...All expectations were met AND exceeded. From the moment he appeared on stage he was musical perfection. I knew I would love the show ; just seeing him ,the legend, would be enough. The performance by Mr. Cohen , his back-up singers and his band was more than I ever could have wished for. They were rehearsed to within a breath in the show.......but it didn't come across as phony. The band , who L.Cohen tipped his hat to often, was so tight I don't think there was a single missed note in the entire three plus hours they played.
He was very gracious and often acknowledged the contributions of the band and singers , as well as the additional contributions of Sharon Robinson,one of the back up singers, as long time collaborator on several songs. He gave over the singing duties to Ms. Robinson on Boogie Street and to the Webb sisters (the other two back up singers) on If It Be Your Will. Both songs were delivered impeccably and it was impossible to feel cheated that Mr. Cohen didn't lend voice to them. He held his hat to his heart during each of these performances as well as during every solo delivered by members of the band.
Did I mention the lighting? I'm telling you ,not a detail was left out.The lighting , along with the sheer curtains that hung from the ceiling created a visual mood to work beautifully with the music. The beauty of the lighting was profound during the choruses of Hallelujah when the normally subtle , bluish light became bright white light that bathed the entire stage as if...as if...okay I can't say it but you can imagine! With any other song that light would seem harsh but with this it was glorious. I was not the only one who actually gasped.
It was an evening of beautiful music, interrupted only by a 15 minute intermission. He didn't talk a lot and each time he did there was not a wasted word. He introduced the band no less than three times ; I sometimes find this a little indulgent and grandiose but Mr. Cohen gave the introductions with such grace and respect it was very easy to take. At one point the 74 year old Cohen mentioned that it had been about 14 years since his last appearance in Boston..."I was 60 then. Just a kid with a crazy dream!"
We go to many live music shows. I love a huge variety of music....always have. Over many years I have been to hundreds of shows. Nothing has ever come close to this. At the end of the show, with the entire band at the front of the stage with him, he acknowledged the crew, the dressers,(someone has to take care of the ubiquitous fedoras), the bus drivers , everyone involved in the tour. At the end of the "thank-you's" he added one more. He thanked the audience and with a sincerity I believed, he said," We will always remember this night" I will always remember this night.....I hope this tour has made Leonard Cohen want to be out there with his fans and that he will return to the road again....saving retirement for the distant future. He is a gracious gentleman. Thank you, Leonard Cohen!!!
It would be wrong not to say a few words about the venue. The CitiWang ,formerly known as just the Wang, is a beautifully restored theater. In the seventies it was known as the Music Hall and I saw many ,many acts there. It was a run-down beauty then...well worn ,with shadows of it's glory days peeking through. The restoration took many years and many dollars to complete. It is now certainly one of the most beautiful spaces Boston has to offer. Marble and gold, glowing light and soaring balconies.Chandeliers too many for me to count...two giant chandeliers hang from the
stunningly painted ceiling in the grand foyer as if from red velvet ribbons alone.
The seats, of course, are not perfect. My husband , at 6'3" was a little cramped but my 5"5" was very comfortable. Getting in and out can't be done without having others in the row stand up. The seats are forgivable though with perfect acoustics and lovely, yet sometimes distant, views.
The further seats soar in height but somehow the view is still perfect. When my daughter was six we went to her first ballet, Swan Lake , at the Wang. When we approached our seats I was a little nervous that she would be bored sitting so far away from the stage. We were second to the last row, second balcony. When the dancers started she gasped...looked at me with wonder...and said, almost breathless,"Ohhhhh, Mama..look at the tiny people!" It was wonderful.