What is it about Leonard Cohen that is so timeless? He might be 75 years old, yet he still seems as spry and full of energy as a 30-year-old. He skips and jumps to and from the stage, he’s still quick on his feet, he’s still got the amazing sadness/self deprecating humor and when he smiles it fills a room (or stadium as it were).
The man has a talent that goes beyond his musical abilities and writing, he is one of the last charmers. Someone who can somehow seem completely sincere when making the same joke live that you’ve already heard on his Live in London album. Someone who is repeating lines he’s said over and over, yet in the crowd you feel like this is his first performance of the material, or at least the performance that has meant the most to him. He’s the type of performer that can say “Thank you, thank you friends. It means a lot to be here tonight, and I appreciate that you all could join me,” and as one of 10,000, you might feel like he’s thanking you personally and that he really does appreciate you coming.
This is the mystique of Leonard Cohen, a man dragged out of retirement to replenish the nest egg pilfered by his former manager. Still, when he plays there’s a real sincerity to everything he does. The most gracious and tasteful musician still touring, Cohen’s concerts are full of genuine warmth and intimacy, even when playing in a hockey arena.
He seamlessly brings all eras of Cohen together, drawing the missing links between songs like “First We Take Manhattan” and “Suzanne”, and even in the reimagining instrumentation that comes with each song, it’s still enjoyable, authentic and heartfelt. I often opt out of “reunion” shows, or concerts performed by musicians well past their prime (and I saw Ray Davies and the Zombies, and it proved to me why I don’t go see old rock heroes), but Cohen brought the type of concert I always hope for. With songs ranging from “Marianne” to “Famous Blue Raincoat” to “The Partisan” to “Who By Fire” to “Back on Boogie Street” and “Closing Time”, Cohen performed each one perfectly (as perfect as his aged voice can be), constantly smiling, dashing and skipping off stage and bowing to the audience and his musicians with impressive regularity.
Self aware, sincere, gracious and perfect, it’s amazing to think that this man still has at 75, what everyone else is missing at 30.
It might not be like this any more, but it’s just as affecting.