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The sweetest voice I ever heard whispered to my soul - shadows of echoes of memories of songs
j4
j4
The sweetest voice I ever heard whispered to my soul
Leonard Cohen
The O2, London, 13th November 2008

I didn't actually know the songs of Leonard Cohen that well, apart from 'Hallelujah', and 'Bird on a Wire', and 'Famous Blue Raincoat', and all the other ones it turned out that I did know (many more than I thought). So I didn't really know what to expect, except good songs. But not knowing what to expect means having to listen more attentively to everything, because you don't really know which bits will be the good bits.

I'm not going to do a proper journalistic review. I'll leave that to people who know what they're talking about. But there were nearly three hours of non-stop good bits, good bits made almost entirely of words.

The band was a lot more smooth and shiny than I expected, less about the simple acoustic guitar and more about the backing singers with glossy voices (though one of them did play the harp as well, and the other two turned somersaults in one of the songs); all very polished and pleasant, and with some amazing guitar solos... but I'm not trying to do that sort of review. For me, really, it was all about the lyrics. And the voice -- so incredibly deep, with a texture like rough stone that's been warmed by the sun. It's a voice that sounds like the feeling of being touched.

And I didn't expect to be touched like that. I didn't expect so many poems (with and without music). I didn't expect 'A Thousand Kisses Deep', spoken over one shimmering chord, or the refrain of 'Anthem' uttered like a prayer. The right words can reduce me to wordlessness; the right combination of the sacred and the sexual can bring me to my knees. I don't want to shatter it by trying to explain it.

We missed the last train back, got the coach, arrived home at 3 a.m. All today I have been dazed and tired and had a sense of nameless longing, a sense of something just out of reach; as if there's something solid in my mind which I can touch but not see, something which my fingertips know intimately but which I don't have the vocabulary to translate.
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Comments
braisedbywolves From: braisedbywolves Date: November 15th, 2008 01:52 am (UTC) (Link)
By a coincidence myself and a friend were next door at Monkey World, where we joked that the booming voice of Buddha was being provided by Leonard Cohen beween songs.

One thing that I'm curious about: I would have assumed that the ticket price was targeted at the more hardcore fan: was there an offer running, or are the sums involved less than I'd imagined?
rysmiel From: rysmiel Date: November 15th, 2008 03:20 am (UTC) (Link)
It's probably the man's last major tour, considering he's 75, and the first time he played Montreal at least in fifteen years; I was unsurprised by, and willing to pay for, a lot more than I normally would for a concert.
j4 From: j4 Date: November 15th, 2008 10:48 am (UTC) (Link)
We paid £60 (plus £7 booking fee!) per ticket -- there were cheaper tickets but they'd've involved sitting about 100 miles away and they weren't much cheaper as far as I can remember. It was a lot more than I'd normally pay for a concert, but LC is a legend!

addedentry is the more hardcore fan (he's got all the albums and everything); I probably wouldn't've gone on my own (but then I don't tend to go to anything on my own). But I'm really glad I did.
livredor From: livredor Date: November 15th, 2008 07:14 am (UTC) (Link)
I am really glad that you attended this concert and that you've written such a moving and personal (rather than muso journalist) review. I was completely blown away by the Stockholm bit of this tour, but I think you're more suited to appreciate Leonard Cohen than I am, you have more of a feel for both poetry and music.
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