The Mark of Excellence

Leonard Cohen

Air Canada Centre, Toronto, ON, December 4

> > Dec 05 2012

Leonard Cohen - Air Canada Centre, Toronto, ON, December 4
By Scott TavenerWith obvious similarities, porkpie hats and fedoras fall into the same genus. Nevertheless, they're worlds apart. While the former exudes a certain gallant roguishness (see Popeye Doyle), the latter, if worn in earnest (i.e., not you, Joey Jeremiah), radiates class and sophistication (see Leonard Cohen).

Earlier this year, Cohen turned 78 years old. He is not your buddy; he's your man. He exists in rarefied air, and he looks damn natural in a gentleman's hat. Despite the years logged — or perhaps because of them — his shows are marathons. Fittingly, he jogged out to start the first of a two-night ACC engagement. He wouldn't say goodnight for more than three hours.

Long-distance endurance is largely about pace and Cohen and co. managed theirs expertly. Wading in with a laid-back, Euro cabaret-indebted take on "Dance Me to the End of Love," things began slowly, notwithstanding the incisive fiddle. Similarly, the rhythm section stayed in first gear for "The Future" before a one-two punch of "Bird on the Wire" and "Everybody Knows" picked up the energy level.

Backed by an extraordinary nine-piece band, Cohen was a generous leader, frequently recognizing players by name and doling out deserved compliments. Whether going ominous on "Everybody Knows" or jaunty on "Darkness," the rhythm section was integral.

Also, bravura turns came from an amazing Javier Mas on the laud and bandurria (think modern lutes), and Alexandru Bublitchi on violin. Throughout, backup singers, the Webb Sisters and longtime collaborator Sharon Robinson deftly buoyed Cohen's singular rasp.

Across two sets and two encores, highlights abounded, from a spoken word "A Thousand Kisses Deep" and a Nick Cave-style "Tower of Song" to a jazzed-up "Anyhow" and a Celtic-inspired "Come Healing."

Naturally, hits like "Suzanne," "Hallelujah" and "So Long, Marianne" culled sing-alongs, and other standouts included a tango-inflected "I'm Your Man," a grand "Take This Waltz" and apropos closer "Closing Time."

Eloquent, elegant and altogether charming, Cohen delivered a ceaselessly engaging show that profited from its extended runtime. And he'll do it again, fedora and all.
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Great review. The new material sounded fabulous and LC was in even better form than when I caught him in 2008. My only quibble is the grade: if that wasn't a 10/10 concert, I don't know what is!
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I wish everyone was there
it was pricey but wowsers
did he school all the grant stuffed
big fish small pond
schlock rock we get filled with here and at every festival.

If only he did the show for $20 and played 6 nights with a few off days to rest ,
he is
then all would know what I mean by the shear master here,
not many can pull of such a show
and take it from the prince
I see to many shows
this show was the shizzle
He is the man,
if only we could type as low as he sings.
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I don't know if it would be the same in a venue as huge as the ACC, but I caught one of the first of his shows in 2009, in St. John's, NL at a small theatre in a high school, and it will go down as one of the best shows I have ever seen, I think it was the 6th or 7th show into the tour, and 3 hours flew by in what felt like 10 minutes.
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2008 I meant . . .
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