Leonard Cohen Live In London

Leonard CohenLive In London
"What a great honour to play for you," intones the immortal baritone of Leonard Cohen at the beginning of this two-disc, 150-minute document of his 2008 world tour. Here is a 73-year-old man who, despite decades of success and reverential acclaim, remains remarkably modest, deferential to every one of his band-mates, and grateful for every moment on stage. And yet the honour is all ours. I'll be frank: I wept continuously when I saw this tour's Toronto stop. I wept with tears of joy to hear the author of such magnificent prose sound so alive and appreciated, wept with tears of sadness knowing that he won't be doing this for much longer, and it's hard to imagine anyone taking his place. Live in London is a perfect souvenir and a helpful reminder that no, I wasn't just drunk on the emotion of the moment. Cohen is crooning with conviction and strength - even his detractors will have to admit that he's singing in tune. The band are impeccable and tasteful - anyone put off by Cohen's questionable studio choices will discover that these songs sound better than they ever have, even schmaltz like "Ain't No Cure For Love." Most importantly, he finally reclaims "Hallelujah" after 25 years of his original version perplexing even the most rapturous fans of the song's many cover versions. It's impossible to express just how cathartic it was, in the summer of 2008, to hear Cohen sing about how "democracy is coming to the U.S.A." It's a song that sounded quaint and funny when it was first released in 1992 but such a song can only achieve true resonance after one's spirit has been bruised, battered and forced to seek light through the smallest of cracks. Suddenly, when given a glimpse of sunshine and the possibility of freedom, Cohen sounds like the first man to tell you the truth after (eight) years of lies. He's not always that heavy, of course. In fact, he's often hilarious. All of his best banter, which was routine at every tour stop, is included here, which hardly seems fair to those who have yet to witness the ongoing tour. Live in London is more than a document of Cohen's comeback; it may well be - objectively speaking, outside the context and time when his earlier classics were released - the finest recording of his 40-year career. (Sony)