Up Close & Personal: Leonard Cohen Performs The Partisan – Marseille 2010

marseilleWhen they poured across the border
I was cautioned to surrender,
this I could not do;
I took my gun and vanished.
I have changed my name so often,
I’ve lost my wife and children
but I have many friends,
and some of them are with me.

This video was suggested by Linda-Lee Sturgess, who wrote “This video is not perfection – but a remarkable capture of Leonard ‘up close and personal.’”

Leonard Cohen – The Partisan
Marseille: Sept 21, 2010 (Leonard Cohen’s 76th birthday)
Video by cohenadmirer1

Note: Originally posted Nov 15, 2014 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Leonard Cohen Doffs His Hat, Sharon Robinson Waves: 2008 Lucca Soundcheck Video

lsoundcThere is nothing extraordinary about this video of Leonard Cohen’s soundcheck before the 2008 Lucca show, but I always enjoy seeing the backup singers and the band in mufti (OK, I guess that technically, Leonard is in civilian clothes as well , but how do you tell his concert costume from his everyday outfit?), and I am taken by Leonard responding, in the midst of solving some issue with the sound system, to fans applauding the abruptly ended song by doffing his hat and smiling at the crowd — an event followed a moment later by Sharon flashing her own winsome smile and waving.  Consider my cockles warmed.

Leonard Cohen – Dance Me To The End Of Love
Lucca Soundcheck: July 27, 2008
Video by Todd Rongstad

Sights & Sounds Of The 2010 Leonard Cohen Ghent Concerts

Leonard Cohen Gets Together With Friends In Ghent, Belgium – August 2010

The 2010 Leonard Cohen Ghent concerts blessed us with a deluge of superior videos. Simultaneously,  outstanding photos of the venue (and the nifty 2008 Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame inductees jacket displayed in the middle of this post) by Hans Kloss surfaced to serve as the perfect complement to the videos.

Leonard Cohen – Closing Time
Ghent: Aug 22, 2010
Video from albertnoonan

Leonard Cohen – Boogie Street
Ghent: Aug 22, 2010
Video from albertnoonan

Leonard Cohen – In My Secret Life
Ghent: Aug 21, 2010
Video from bridgebud

Note: Originally posted Aug 25, 2010 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“The first standing ovation was for Leonard Cohen strolling on stage and looking so good in a dark suit & fedora”


James Reaney, writing in “Cohen Cooler Than Ever” (London Free Press, May 25, 2009). Photo (Coachella 2009) by Fred von Lohmann. Originally posted July 14, 2010 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Leonard Cohen Takes Berlin But Not Without Struggle – Tour Tales 2009

But love is not a victory march,
it’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah!

Leonard Cohen’s Battle For Berlin

As noted by concert-goers, Leonard Cohen’s July 2, 2009 Berlin concert was not an automatic triumph. This report from LeonardCohenForum by brinberlin limns the situation:

… the Webbs and Sharon Robinson came on unsmiling, stony-faced, morose, and despite the obligatory standing ovation LC looked ill at ease to say the least. One problem must have been the audience. What a lack of vibe. Mostly over 50 (as I am, but not like them!) and looking as if they just came for an evening out, provincial in the most pejorative sense of the word, they could have been watching anyone really. They marched up and down the aisles with wines and beers as he sang, talked amongst themselves, clapped and whooped each time they (wrongly) thought a song had ended… really embarrassing. … They were only waiting for Suzanne, and the rest seemed to pass them by as they hysterically took mobile phone footage of each other and the screens…

While others who attended disagree about the appearance of the performers and the extent of the philistinism rampant in the crowd, the consensus is nonetheless that the Berlin show was challenging in a way that many other stops on the World Tour have not been.

Many previous Tour concerts (including the one I attended at the Beacon Theatre) have been as much worship services of gathered Cohen  acolytes as they are entertainments.  The greatest risks posed in such circumstances has been competitions by audience members to demonstrate who is most appreciative of, knowledgeable about, and emotionally intimate with Cohen and crew.

From both the reports of those in attendance and the press, there is little doubt that, by the end of the Berlin show, Cohen had won over the audience. What is striking is that this was a victory accomplished by the overwhelming display of professionalism and grace by Leonard Cohen, the backup singers, and the band.

Keep in mind that this is the grown-up version of the Leonard Cohen who walked off the stage in frustration in a 1972 concert. Of course, this is also the Leonard Cohen who thoughtfully considers his responsibilities as a performer:

You definitely go into a concert with a prayer on your lips. There’s no question about that. I think that anything risky that you do, anything that sets you up for the possibility of humiliation like a concert does … you have to lean on something that is a little better than yourself I feel I’m always struggling with the material, whether it’s a concert or a poem or a prayer or a conversation. It’s very rarely that I find I’m in a condition of grace where there’s a kind of flow that is natural. I don’t inhabit that landscape too often. … Well, I mean this in a kind of lighthearted way. When you walk on the stage and 5,000 people have paid good money to hear you, there’s definitely a sense that you can blow it. The possibilities for disgrace are enormous.1

Leonard Cohen’s 2009 Strategy For Taking Berlin

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  1. From An Interview with Leonard Cohen” by Robert Sward. A Side. Montreal, Quebec. 1986 []