Leonard Cohen Grand Tour Souvenirs: 50,000 Green Glow Sticks – Tel Aviv 2009

greensticks-screenshot

Souvenirs Of The Leonard Cohen Grand Tour

In anticipation of Can’t Forget: A Souvenir of the Grand Tour, the Leonard Cohen live album scheduled for release May 12, 2015,1 Cohencentric offers its own set of Souvenirs Of The Leonard Cohen Grand Tour, a series of posts about the objects that became memorable parts of the 2008-2013 Leonard Cohen concert performances.

Lighting Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah At Ramat Gan Stadium

While this video is imperfect (much of it is shaky, parts are out of focus, the angle from the camera to the stage is severely acute, and shot selection is questionable in some instances), these flaws are more than compensated for by the videographer’s proximity to the stage (the video was shot from row 9), which allows for direct filming of the actual musicians on stage rather than views of the telescreens. Most impressive, however, are the views of the audience (some of these audience views are among most acutely focused scenes in the video) waving those green glow sticks, singing along, and applauding.

stage-telaviv-screenshot2

Leonard Cohen – Hallelujah
Tel Aviv: Sept 24, 2009
Video from lempert3

Note: Originally posted Oct 15, 2009 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric
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  1. See It’s Official – Leonard Cohen “Can’t Forget” Live Album: Tracks, Sources, Pre-Order Info, & More []

Hear Leonard Cohen Perform Lover Lover Lover + More From Historic 2009 Tel Aviv Show

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2009 Leonard Cohen Tel Aviv Show Videos & Posts

telavivposterUpdate: Live videos of this performance have been removed from YouTube except for the official audio-only recording shown below.

Leonard Cohen – Lover Lover Lover
Tel Aviv: Sept 24, 2009

 

All 2009 Leonard Cohen Tel Aviv concert videos can be found at 2009 Cohen Tel Aviv Show. I especially recommend

 

5 Videos: 2009 Leonard Cohen Tel Aviv Show: Greeting, Anthem, First We Take Manhattan, Partisan, Who By Fire

telavivman

Leonard Cohen – Opening Words
Tel Aviv: Sept 24, 2009
Video by 13Sierra

Leonard Cohen – Anthem
Tel Aviv: Sept 24, 2009
Video by hannir2

Leonard Cohen – First We Take Manhattan
Tel Aviv: Sept 24, 2009
Video by MajorTom2oo1

Leonard Cohen – The Partisan
Tel Aviv: Sept 24, 2009
Video by TovaTre

Leonard Cohen – Who By Fire
Tel Aviv: Sept 24, 2009
Video by hannir2

Other 2009 Leonard Cohen Tel Aviv Show Posts

To view other posts about this historic concert, go to 2009 Cohen Tel Aviv Show.

Video: Leonard Cohen, Hallelujah, & 50,000 Green Glow Sticks – Tel Aviv 2009

greensticks-screenshot

Reliving Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah At Ramat Gan Stadium

stage-telaviv-screenshot2

While this video is imperfect (much of it is shaky, parts are out of focus, the angle from the camera to the stage is severely acute, and shot selection is questionable in some instances), these flaws are more than compensated for by the videographer’s proximity to the stage (the video was shot from row 9), which allows for  direct filming of the actual musicians on stage rather than views of the telescreens. Most impressive, however, are the views of the audience (some of these audience views are among most acutely focused scenes in the video) waving those green glow sticks, singing along, and applauding.

Leonard Cohen – Hallelujah
Tel Aviv: Sept 24, 2009
Video from lempert3

Other 2009 Leonard Cohen Tel Aviv Show Posts

To view other posts about this historic concert, go to 2009 Cohen Tel Aviv Show.

The Legacy Of Leonard Cohen’s 2009 Tel Aviv Priestly Blessing With Video Of The Event

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Birkat Kohanim Concludes Leonard Cohen’s Performance In Israel

The best video of the closing and blessings from the  Leonard Cohen Tel Aviv concert that offers a direct view of the onstage action rather than the telescreen projection became available on YouTube only yesterday.  Because many Cohencentric viewers have a special interest in this event, I am posting this video for its superior  audio and visual qualities although the concert took place nearly a week ago.

In addition, I want to take this opportunity to answer the questions that continue to arise about the history of the Priestly Blessing, why Leonard Cohen would use, in the words of one correspondent, an “official Jewish thing” to end the concert, and the meaning of the hand gesture that accompanied the blessing.

Besides, one of the life lessons I’ve finally learned is that one can always use an extra blessing.

The Priestly Blessing And Leonard Cohen

The Priestly Blessing, found in Numbers 6:24-26,  originates in the prayer to be used by Aaron and his sons for the blessing of the children of Israel. Leonard Cohen, because he is a descendant of Aaron (a Kohen or Cohen is  a  Jew who is in direct patrilineal descent from Aaron),  embodies that ancient authority to administer the Priestly Blessing.

Further, the level of observance and piety of a specific Kohen is irrelevant since he is not providing the blessing;  “he is merely serving as a conduit for G‑d’s blessings.”1

Many synagogues continue to use this prayer in their services. In Protestant churches, it has come to be known as The Benediction and often closes church services as a blessing upon the congregation. It is similarly used at weddings as a blessing upon the bride and groom.

In Tel Aviv, Leonard Cohen, recites the Blessing in Hebrew.

priestly-blessing1May the Lord bless you and protect you
May the Lord make His face shine upon you
and be gracious to you
May the Lord show you His favor and give you His peace

bircatCohanim

The Lifting Of The Hands

Birkat Kohanim is also known as “Nesi’at Kapayim,” the “lifting of the hands,” so named because of the Kohanim’s uplifted hands, through which the divine blessings flow.2

When performing the Priestly Blessing, the Kohanim stretch their arms and hands forward, holding their hands together palms-down with their fingers separated so there are 5 spaces: one space between the thumbs, a space between the thumb and first finger of each hand, and a space between the second and third finger of each hand.3  This forms the lattice through which, as described in the Talmud. referencing the verse in the Song of Songs (2:9), God peers.4

My beloved is like a gazelle or a young hart
Behold, he stands behind our wall
He looks in through the windows
Peering through the lattice

Shefa_Tal

Shefa Tal: These hands, as in the en:Priestly Blessing, are divided into twenty-eight sections, each containing a Hebrew letter. Twenty-eight, in Hebrew numbers, spells the word Koach = strength. At the bottom of the hand, the two letters on each hand combine to form יהוה, the name of God.

Leonard Cohen – Closing and Blessings
Tel Aviv: Sept 24, 2009
Video by PetSounds69

Credit Due Department: Shefa Tal diagram (public domain) from Library of Congress.

Other 2009 Leonard Cohen Tel Aviv Show Posts

To view other posts about this historic concert, go to 2009 Cohen Tel Aviv Show.

Note: Originally posted Sep 30, 2009 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric
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  1. Naftali Silberberg, The Priestly Blessing, Chabad.org – Torah, Judaism and Jewish Info []
  2. Naftali Silberberg, The Priestly Blessing, Chabad.org – Torah, Judaism and Jewish Info []
  3. According to WikipediaThe positioning of the Kohen’s hands during the Priestly Blessing was Leonard Nimoy’s inspiration for Mr. Spock’s Vulcan salute in the original Star Trek television series. Nimoy, raised an orthodox Jew (but not a Kohen), used the salute when saying “live long and prosper.” []
  4. Wikipedia []

The 2009 Leonard Cohen Tel Aviv Concert – A Personal Report & Perspective

kory-e-bao1600

baotzebao (right) with Robert Kory (left), Leonard Cohen’s business manager

Text and photos by baotzebao aka Valerio Fiandra1
Translation by Google
Introduction and Editing by DrHGuy2

Introduction

As ongoing readers know, baotzebao aka Valerio Fiandra, who usually posts at  a vànvera, Heck Of A Guy’s Italian sister blog, has served as this site’s foreign desk, reporting on the Leonard Cohen Tel Aviv Concert held September 24, 2009.3 This report is the culmination of  baotzebao’s thoughts on that event.

More specifically, this post was once the culmination of baotzebao’s thoughts on that event. At that point, it was written in Italian. It was then translated into something sorta, kinda resembling English by Google Translation Tool. Finally, it was interpreted, corrected, and edited by me.  To compound the potential for confusion, baotzebao writes in particularly lyrical style which lends itself to neither simple translation or editing.  I hereby apologize, on behalf of myself and Google, for the inevitable mutilations of meaning and stylistic transgressions consequently  inflicted on baotzebao.

Nonetheless, I am pleased with the result and proud to offer it as today’s Heck Of A Guy post.

If nothing else, it’s the best damn first-hand account and analysis of the Leonard Cohen Tel Aviv Concert available online or in print that was first written in Italian, then translated by the dominant force in the cyber-world, and then edited and recomposed into Chicago-accented Ozark English.

Leonard Cohen’s September 24, 2009 Performance In Israel – Observations And Analysis By baotzebao

Leonard Cohen ends his 2009 concert in Israel as he did his performance in Venice on that warm August 3rd evening in Piazza San Marco when the rain had stopped only a few minutes before the show.   Three hours after punctually starting the performance with one of his most romantic songs, “Dance Me to the End of Love,” Leonard Cohen blesses the audience, reciting a shortened version of Birkat  Kohanim – this time in Hebrew, of course.

The audience of more than fifty thousand cannot hold back the emotion; the silence that accepts the blessing and the applause that greeted the offering of the musicians is more than a signal of appreciation – it is a union.

The Leonard Cohen Tel Aviv Concert Background

Ramat Gan Stadium in Tel Aviv sold out in half a day when, a few months ago when, after many announcements and denials and despite Internet petitions opposing the concert, disputes and some  ill-considered statements, tickets for the Leonard Cohen concert went on sale.  Heated political discussions worldwide, demonstrations, and a call to boycott the concert were heavily covered in the press, but failed to stop Cohen’s performance.

Cohen, determined to “not … take a single shekel earned from the concert out of the country,” has directed the receipts to be donated to the Fund for Reconciliation, Tolerance and Peace, a charity created in conjunction with this event and dedicated to supporting bereaved Israeli and Palestinian families  “who have paid the price and still continue to do what they can to achieve reconciliation”

David-Grosmann

David Grossman, at Fund for Reconciliation, Tolerance and Peace press conference

Shortly before the concert, representatives of the Fund for Reconciliation, Tolerance and Peace held a brief press conference to explain its goals and  activities. The writer, David Grossman, outlined the ideas behind the Fund and thanked those who had brought it into being, a group with included not only Cohen but also his manager Robert Kory, AEG Live, and Sony Music.

For those wishing to know more about this aspect, I recommend Nothing on his tongue but Hallelujah,  the excellent article by Ben Jacobson in the September 21, 2009 Jerusalem Post, a piece which recreates the political path and spiritual journey of Leonard Cohen, the Canadian author and the singer “born with the gift of the golden voice,” as a force majeure, a man of carnal and spiritual love – a true poet.

The Leonard Cohen Tel Aviv Performance

The rest – the everything – was music and words.

Visionary ecstasy and  toughness, carnal and spiritual love, reaching out to others and selfishness …  While the themes of Cohen’s lyrics seem, at times, contradictory, they lead to awareness. As the wise know, every moment has its truth, and the truth embedded in individual and social human experience often conflicts with legal precepts and common morality.

The message of Cohen’s poetry is not delivered as a didactic lecture but as an inspired – and inspirational –  series of scenarios and stories set to simple and compelling modern music by a writer unafraid of using traditional forms such as the blues ballad or the waltz.

This is, indeed, the case for the lovely “Take This Waltz,” a desperate love song whose voluptuous, exotic  Hispano-Viennese evocations transform the utilitarian sports stadium at  Ramat Gan into an grand Rococo palace dizzily awhirl with rounds of waltz.

The same notion holds true for “Hallelujah,” not Cohen’s  best but certainly one of his most interpreted songs, which begins with the “a secret chord/That David played, and it pleased the Lord” but soon becomes a poignant account of profane love, an updated version of the Song of Songs.

The Impact of Leonard Cohen’s Jewish Identity

And so it continues. In many (all?) of Leonard Cohen’s works of poetry, art and music, one can find traces of his Jewish heritage and identity.  Is “Leonard Cohen the most Jewish musician in the world?” as  was suggested in a radio show.   As one might infer from the show’s title, “Sounds Jewish,” the idea is deliberately provocative, but this not an idle or trivial question.

To me, the life and works of Leonard Cohen are Jewish in the expressions, in the quotations, in the references.  Nor,  given his training, reading, studying of the teachings of Judaism during his youth in Montreal, could it be otherwise.

But one cannot limit Cohen’s perspective to solely Jewish issues without denying   the universal applicability of his spiritual and ethical approach and its deepest aspiration – to provide hope – an especially needed quality in these days!  The motif running through Leonard Cohen’s songs is the tension between what every human being wants to be but, except in extraordinary circumstances, cannot be.  It is this sense of profound individual awareness juxtaposed with the cultural acceptance of  ones responsibility despite irrevocable human limitations that is, in my opinion, one of the fundamental principles of and offerings from Judaism.

And Cohen is this:  a man, born and raised a Jew, who honors the life of every human being.  Listen carefully to “Anthem:”4 the crack to which he alludes – and through which the light  enters –  is an experience of a sort common to and indistinguishable among  individuals, nationalities, religions or races.

Cohen is an artist born and raised in Judaism who sings and write about – and for  – all humankind.

sign

In this context, the theme Cohen chose  for this fund-raising performance takes on special significance – while the Leonard Cohen Tel Aviv event  concert, as its politicized  detractors would have it, may be flawed, an imperfect offering to paraphrase Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” this is, indeed, How The Light Gets In.

The Tel Aviv Audience And Set List

The lineup holds few surprises for the well-informed audience, comprising people of all ages (many of whom were younger than any audience members I saw in Venice) who sing almost every line, often anticipating the next words.

Any potential language barrier is avoided by subtitles that translate the songs on large screens, which also make Cohen and his musicians visible to those located away from the stage. (Given the prevalence of English-speaking Israelis, I suspect the subtitles are necessary for only a small fraction of the crowd, but their use is in keeping with Cohen’s concern for the audience) The sound quality, as promised, is excellent.

There are many women whose facial expression betray their obvious seduction by this  75 year old lover.5

We are treated to such well known songs as “Suzanne,” “First We Take Manhattan” (during which green fluorescent lights punctuated each bar like illuminated crests of waves on the sea throughout the darkness of the stadium), “I’m Your Man” (the dream and the vain promise of every lover), “Marianne” (sung loudly throughout even by those who, like me, were occasionally out of tune), and “Bird On A Wire.”

But also featured are several less frequently performed, more discrete songs, such as “Famous Blue Raincoat (behind me a girl is hugging herself, rocking and crying thinking – who knows? Her abandonment, her love affairs ended because of human imperfections, … ), and “Chelsea Hotel.”

In short, it is, throughout, a most beautiful concert made even more special for its occurrence in Israel, where certain allusions do not need to be explained, where injuries and courage, suffering and determination have been elements of everyday life .or some 5770 years.

blessinghand

The concert ends with that special blessing  that a Cohen can offer,6 but which  Leonard Cohen has given only once before, in Venice.7 I want to think that this event will help unite my native land with its spiritual heritage in the same way that Leonard Cohen’s concert proved to be the means by which your impromptu reporter was brought to Israel for the first time in 55 years.

There is a time for … you know what I mean, c’mon –  everybody knows

Other  2009 Leonard Cohen Tel Aviv Show Posts

To view other posts about this historic concert, go to 2009 Cohen Tel Aviv Show.

Note: Originally posted Sep 28, 2009 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

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  1. Except the final photo, Cohen’s Blessings, which is a screenshot from a video. []
  2. AKA Allan Showalter []
  3. See

    []

  4. Those who have not had the pleasure and thrill to hear Cohen in person may wish to obtain the “Live in London” CD and DVD, which features tracks a similarly structured concert from the current World Tour []
  5. Editor’s note: The use of the word “betrayed” may be misleading. To clarify, my personal experience is that most women in the audience seduced by Mr. Cohen do not attempt to hide their infatuation and, indeed, tend to flaunt their affections for the man. Of course, the only time I observed this phenomenon in person, the Canadian singer-songwriter and, yes, icon, was still an impetuous youth of 74. []
  6. ”Cohen” means priest in Hebrew. []
  7. According to the network of Cohenite  enthusiasts who systematically monitor such matters []

A Concert-Goer’s Perspective On Leonard Cohen’s Priestly Blessings At The 2009 Tel Aviv Concert

jerwan2

Leonard Cohen And The Jerusalem Gypsy Meet In Tel Aviv

While perhaps not the most elegant or lyrical account of the Leonard Cohen Tel Aviv Concert, The High Priest, a post by Jerusalem Gypsy in the Jerusalem Wanderings blog may prove to be my favorite.

Jerusalem Gypsy, you see, admires Leonard Cohen and acknowledges that he is, indeed, The Man, but JG is not, as she points out, “a total fanatic.” And, although she seems confident of Cohen’s abilities, she is not willing to automatically cede her approval.  She is attending the concert to watch Cohen perform, not to pay homage.

I also appreciate the details she provides about the setting and her admirably idiosyncratic responses to them. I’ve read reviews  from the Jerusalem Post and  Bloomberg.com, Cohen Defies Critics With Israeli Gig from The Independent, Yonat Frilling’s  moving testimonial, and too many other descriptions and analyses of the Tel Aviv concert, but only Jerusalem Gypsy reports sacrificing the hot dog with sauerkraut to go she craved because she “decided [she would] rather starve than miss buses [to the concert].”

And certainly no other reviewer was willing to dedicate a paragraph to (justifiably, one perceives) defaming the bank that was willing to sponsor the concert and provide a gift bag to members of the audience but unwilling to refinance JG’s house loan.

This is a woman to whom I can relate. She is eager to attend the concert but she first has to finish her work because

The worst thing would be for me to come back to work on Tuesday, after the Yom Kippur vacation, to a mountain of shit on my desk.

Other folks, no doubt, are awaiting the start of the concert pondering the socio-political implications of Cohen’s show on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or contemplating the subtle shift in the cosmic consciousness Cohen’s songs would trigger that night.  Jerusalem Gypsy, however, is locked on exactly the same issue on which I would have focused:

My first thought, as the concert began, was – am I going to feel that the concert was worth the 800 shekels I spent? [emphasis mine]

All that makes Jerusalem Gypsy’s record of her concert experience splendidly personal and her reaction to the concert, especially to the blessings at the end of the performance more moving to me than the most exquisitely written reports from others.

Excerpts follow, but the entire post is worth reading at The High Priest:

I kept on telling everyone at work for the entire week that on Thursday I had a meeting with the Jewish High Priest – the Cohen Gadol, the Priest of Priests. I managed to snag an expensive ticket to Leonard Cohen’s performance last night and I was sure the High Priest would bless his audience. I thought about it for quite a number of days – about what a great idea that would be for him to give the priestly blessing to an audience of 47,000.

I was awash in day dreams throughout the day, wishing I was his spiritual tour guide while he was in the country. …

… although I really like Leonard Cohen’s music, I am not a total fanatic, I don’t know the words to all of his songs.

We all got off  [the bus at] the next stop and had about 25 minutes before the concert starts. Leonard is known for being punctual. When we finally got to the stadium, the lines in front of the gates were frightening. Hundreds of people had yet to get into their gate. No one seemed as frantic as I. I went over to gate 10. There was nobody at the gate. It must have been a gate of people who had all come early. The guy looked at my ticket to see if it was a forgery or if it was real. It was real. Thank God it was real because I didn’t want to have to kill the guy who sold it to me, which was fine, because I ended up sitting right next to him and his girlfriend.

The concert began one minute after I got to my seat. There was a Bank Discount green bag on my seat, and I thought for a moment that someone had taken my spot. But I saw those green bags everywhere. That’s the least that stupid bank can do. I tried for two years to get refinancing on a loan where they were charging me 12% interest. They wouldn’t hear of it. So I changed banks. But I’ll take the green insulated bag – thank you. Fuckers.

My first thoughts, as the concert began, was – am I going to feel that the concert was worth the 800 shekels I spent? For one, my seats were fabulous. I sat around 30 rows back and only 2 rows up from the floor. I saw the stage clearly, but if I wanted to see Leonard’s expressions, I had to look at the screen. The same guy who did Leonard’s poetry reading in Hebrew in Jerusalem, had his translations of the lyrics shown as subtitles on the screen. I hope he got to meet the Man for his efforts. The Jerusalem Post’s review mirrored the same emotions/reactions/feelings I had about this concert. I knew about 80% of his songs, and I sang along to the ones I knew. I took some photos (to be posted tomorrow) and one video. And I wondered how this man could get everything so perfect – from the simple stage backdrop of flowing chiffon-like curtains, using only different colored lighting for the stage, which didn’t annoy the crap out of me because the lighting changes were slow and elegant, just like the entire performance. Leonard’s voice was perfect. The band was incredible. He was incredible. The audience was great. Noisy when it had to be, yet when he spoke, you could hear a pin drop. Everything was incredible. So, yes, it was worth the fortune I spent.

I loved the version of Who By Fire (or is the song called “who shall I say is calling?”) – probably one of the evenings favorites of mine. The Spanish guitarist/lute player, or whatever that instrument is, was amazing. Cohen gave so many encores, I lost count. I felt tears running down my cheeks by the end.

We must have been on the same wavelength somehow, either that, or I am psychic as all hell, because at the very end, right before he left the stage, he stood at the microphone with his hands up the way Jewish priests bless the people, and Leonard Cohen, the High Priest, blessed the audience in Hebrew with the ancient priestly blessing – “May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord let His face shine upon you and be gracious to you. May the Lord look kindly upon you and give you peace.”

And this is the video of that tear-evoking priestly blessing.

Leonard Cohen – Whither Thou Goest & Blessings
Tel Aviv: Sept 24, 2009
Video by MajorTom2oo1

 

I kept on telling everyone at work for the entire week that on Thursday I had a meeting with the Jewish High Priest – the Cohen Gadol, the Priest of Priests. I managed to snag an expensive ticket to Leonard Cohen’s performance last night and I was sure the High Priest would bless his audience. I thought about it for quite a number of days – about what a great idea that would be for him to give the priestly blessing to an audience of 47,000.

I was awash in day dreams throughout the day, wishing I was his spiritual tour guide while he was in the country. I’d take him to my friend Ibrahim in the Mt. of Olives, to the Sufi Sheikh on the Via Dolorosa, midnight praying at the Western Wall, etc. etc.

So at 4:30 pm while I was shredding paper, as the last thing I do before I leave the office, people seemed aghast.

“What are you still doing here?”

“I need to clear up my life” I explained. The worst thing would be for me to come back to work on Tuesday, after the Yom Kippur vacation, to a mountain of shit on my desk. I told another person standing at the reception area that I needed to get to the bank to take out some money. I can’t go to Tel Aviv penniless.

“Do you want money?” asked another person.

While shredding, I’m telling him “who doesn’t want money! Of course I want money.”

His generosity would have saved me 1/2 hour which would have gotten me to Tel Aviv a bit earlier. He was worried because he read in the papers that roads would be closed for the concert and was concerned that I wouldn’t make it on time.

“Don’t worry” I told him. “Leonard will wait for me.”

I got the cash, grabbed a taxi to the central bus station and craved a hot dog with sauerkraut to go, but when I saw the huge line waiting for the Tel Aviv buses, I decided I’d rather starve than miss buses. Everyone on line was talking about Leonard – I think half the bus was on its way to Ramat Gan Stadium.

Two buses filled up before I was able to get on one, and 20 minutes later, I was sitting in the front next to a woman with a cane, who told me the best way to walk to the stadium from the bus station. She’s a native Tel Avivian, and I listened the entire way to her life story. When we got to Tel Aviv, an American woman listening to our conversation, also going to the concert, decided to do the walk with me. While beginning our walk, I’m telling her that although I really like Leonard Cohen’s music, I am not a total fanatic, I don’t know the words to all of his songs. And while I said that a young man walking in front of us turned around and shot me a look as if to tell me ‘then what the hell are you even seeing him for. You don’t belong…. only the ‘real’ fans belong.” But we scurried past him only to meet others from Jerusalem walking in the same direction. One young man, who seemed to know in which direction the stadium was, told us it’s about an hour’s walk. So we hopped on a bus.

Bad move. The traffic wasn’t moving, and the bus was sitting in traffic for 20 minutes. We had only moved a couple of blocks. We all pleaded with the young bus driver to please let us off the bus, but he was adamant to make us wait until the next stop, about a kilometer away. Someone offered to pay his fine, should he be fined for letting us off illegally. I told him the concert is starting in 1/2 hour and we’re getting frantic. No one wants to miss even one song.

“You want to party?” the driver asks, thinking that this is some bad-ass rock concert. “Here, let’s party” and he turns up the volume on this awful dance club music. Doesn’t the shmuck know who Leonard Cohen is?

We all got off the next stop and had about 25 minutes before the concert starts. Leonard is known for being punctual. When we finally got to the stadium, the lines in front of the gates were frightening. Hundreds of people had yet to get into their gate. No one seemed as frantic as I. I went over to gate 10. There was nobody at the gate. It must have been a gate of people who had all come early. The guy looked at my ticket to see if it was a forgery or if it was real. It was real. Thank God it was real because I didn’t want to have to kill the guy who sold it to me, which was fine, because I ended up sitting right next to him and his girlfriend.

The concert began one minute after I got to my seat. There was a Bank Discount green bag on my seat, and I thought for a moment that someone had taken my spot. But I saw those green bags everywhere. That’s the least that stupid bank can do. I tried for two years to get refinancing on a loan where they were charging me 12% interest. They wouldn’t hear of it. So I changed banks. But I’ll take the green insulated bag – thank you. Fuckers.

My first thoughts, as the concert began, was – am I going to feel that the concert was worth the 800 shekels I spent? For one, my seats were fabulous. I sat around 30 rows back and only 2 rows up from the floor. I saw the stage clearly, but if I wanted to see Leonard’s expressions, I had to look at the screen. The same guy who did Leonard’s poetry reading in Hebrew in Jerusalem, had his translations of the lyrics shown as subtitles on the screen. I hope he got to meet the Man for his efforts. The Jerusalem Post’s review mirrored the same emotions/reactions/feelings I had about this concert. I knew about 80% of his songs, and I sang along to the ones I knew. I took some photos (to be posted tomorrow) and one video. And I wondered how this man could get everything so perfect – from the simple stage backdrop of flowing chiffon-like curtains, using only different colored lighting for the stage, which didn’t annoy the crap out of me because the lighting changes were slow and elegant, just like the entire performance. Leonard’s voice was perfect. The band was incredible. He was incredible. The audience was great. Noisy when it had to be, yet when he spoke, you could hear a pin drop. Everything was incredible. So, yes, it was worth the fortune I spent.

I loved the version of Who By Fire (or is the song called “who shall I say is calling?”) – probably one of the evenings favorites of mine. The Spanish guitarist/lute player, or whatever that instrument is, was amazing. Cohen gave so many encores, I lost count. I felt tears running down my cheeks by the end.

We must have been on the same wavelength somehow, either that, or I am psychic as all hell, because at the very end, right before he left the stage, he stood at the microphone with his hands up the way Jewish priests bless the people, and Leonard Cohen, the High Priest, blessed the audience in Hebrew with the ancient priestly blessing – “May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord let His face shine upon you and be gracious to you. May the Lord look kindly upon you and give you peace.”

Other 2009 Leonard Cohen Tel Aviv Show Posts

To view other posts about this historic concert, go to 2009 Cohen Tel Aviv Show.