A little late, this one, but time is full with things like saying bye-bye to fraser_by_proxy
, and commiserating with my love over her car damage and other on-going issues, as well as actual work that drags me in and makes me forget time going by.
Tuesday night I went to see Leonard Cohen, supported by Sam Hunt, with jenni_talula
& her parents. Prior to the show we ate at One Red Dog and were joined by Lee. They have bread that isn't quite as good as Valentino's (in Chch), but is still nicer than many, and Orangeboom on tap. I had a chicken, cranberry & brie pizza.
Getting into the concert was relatively painless, less queuing than Armageddon even, but then everyone had already booked tickets, so processing was fast.
A bit after 7.30pm Sam Hunt came out. I've never been all that impressed with Hunt, one of those more likely to refer to him as "Some Punt", to use the less naughty version. Still, he was entertaining enough, and it takes a certain amount of guts to stand up in front of such a large audience and read your own work to them.
I was surprised that Hunt read Yeats' The Second Coming
, perhaps because it's so iconic and well known, and so apocalyptic, it seemed out of place amongst the home-town theme of his other readings. I was just as surprised finding that I could still recite it along with him. He also recited a well known Baxter piece, The Gunner's Lament
, again a surprising choice seeing as it's been all over the NZ schools curriculum. But I quite enjoyed his translation of Hungarian poem by someone Hunt called Joe Attila
.... I suspect that Mr. Hunt may have dissembled a little in his description, as the poem sounded far more like a classic Hungarian folk song than anything by Attila :)
There was a break in which jenni_talula
bought an expensive t-shirt that seemed to have just about enough material in it to make a pair of panties. I didn't buy one, even though I quite like the pseudo-Celtic interlocking hearts design.
Then the man himself came tripping onto the Persian-carpeted stage, receiving a standing ovation from a goodly part of the crowd just for being there. I think it may have surprised him, he seemed quite moved by it. There was a little banter during the set, apologizing for the rails in the front row ("as if he was the sort of performer where people would try to throw themselves on the stage"), commenting on media reports of his "short stature" by saying he could barely be seen with the naked eye and that he would star alongside the Colossal Squid as the Colossal Shrimp. He spoke also of this being his first time on stage in fifteen years, and that last time he was just sixty, and "a crazy kid with a dream".
The backing band was awesome, the flamenco player from Barcelona was a virtuoso, and the wind instrument artist (saxophone, clarinet, oboe, you name it, he played it) really got into the songs. I really liked the way, when a player had a solo, the rest of the band, including Cohen, all pointedly directed their attention at the soloist, so that you would too, and how when singing harmonies or counterpoints they looked at each other to ensure they got it right. Cohen twice introduced the members of the band, once in the first set and then again in the second set.
At one point I got quite worried about jenni_talula
, as she started shaking at the shoulders and breathing raggedly and hard. I was thinking "surely his voice isn't as effective as that guy on Black Books
was to Fran...", because you know, if it was I'd have been taking lessons, but no, the lady had merely gotten so excited over listening to her favourites songs that she had briefly forgotten to breath.
Overall it came across as a "light jazz" concert, just with that
voice. I listened to older Cohen recordings yesterday, and his voice is much more impressive now. In the past, while it had slightly greater range, it was slightly whiny and didn't have the current deep timbre. Now he sounds more like Richard Burton than Bob Dylan. Also in listening to recordings I discovered that the recorded version of the songs on the I'm Your Man
album are all arranged in a light synth-pop style. The full jazz band makes them have much more depth and power. One track, Tower of Song
, was done by Cohen in exactly the same way as it was done on the album, with just synth and vocals, and you could definitely hear the difference. I suspect that Cohen did that on purpose.
He read A Thousand Kisses Deep
, an old man in a suit and hat, under a plain white spot, looking like Frank Sinatra playing a Humphrey Bogart detective under a street light. The link is almost
what he read, but still not quite, it seems he changes it all the time.
The way Cohen moved on stage reminded me, oddly, of xenogram
I had to sneak out in the middle of First We Take Manhattan
, the second encore, in order to get to the last train home, but was accosted in the steps by a Radio New Zealand reporter with a microphone asking me about the concert. I didn't come across well, as my mind was elsewhere, so I suspect I didn't star on radio.
I got to the train with a couple of minutes to spare, and then, oh Great Fail, I discovered I hadn't copied my Cohen songs on to my iPod yet! I thought I had, but no. So I listened to Nick Cave instead. But not for long, because an old friend got on the train and we did some catch up. Not enough though. Will have to invite him round.
Twas good to have dinner with the crowd last night, seeing fraser_by_proxy
off to Qatar. Also got to wish Norman happy birthday, and here's a belated birthday wish to repotn_infinity
! Am looking forward to wishing tyellas
a happy birthday this evening. There was speculation on why there seems to be so many biorthdays at this time of the year last night. No conclusions were drawn.