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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Leonard Cohen at the Fox


When Leonard Cohen took the stage last night at the Fox Theater, beaming the most heartfelt and humble smile, hat in hand, I thought to myself, 'Can this really be the filthy bastard who wrote Beautiful Losers?' But by the second song, "The Future," it was clear as he sang in his low, soul-permeating voice, "It's lonely here, there's no one left to torture," that yes, this is the artist who's known for his ability to capture the sacred and the profane in the same, heart-stopping lyric.

Three hours later, the crowd rapturous and worn out from jumping to their feet after every song and in order to bring Cohen back to the stage for yet another encore (five in all?), it was impossible to leave wanting — rarely have I seen a show so broad in its sweep of an artist's material. Backed by a 9-piece band, Cohen gave an incredibly generous performance, singing almost every one of his greatest and best-known songs - "Suzanne," "Bird on a Wire," "Hallelujah," "Chelsea Hotel," "Anthem," "Everybody Knows," "I'm Your Man," "Sisters of Mercy," "First we Take Manhattan," "Ain't No Cure For Love," and on and on.

With his left hand raised to the side of his face in a gesture of bracing intensity, or on his knees and sometimes with his hand on his heart, it was striking how much the material still affects Cohen. This music obviously means as much to him as it does to us. And over the course of the evening, it became slightly overwhelming to realize how much of our poetic subconscious, spilled out throughout these songs, comes from this one man.

Early in the set, Cohen said that he didn't know when he might be passing though again, but that he promised to give us his best tonight. Dark, humble, irreverent, playful, and outrageously beautiful, he certainly delivered on that promise. He was our man.

Leonard Cohen at the Fox photo gallery.

(Photos by Perry Julien)

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