Gripping Black & White Video: Leonard Cohen Performs Avalanche & Suzanne – Hannover 2010

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Video Technique And Stage Presentation Meet In Recording Of Suzanne And Avalanche Performed By Leonard Cohen

As the headline indicates, this post showcases one video, Leonard Cohen performing “Suzanne” followed by “Avalanche” at the September 27, 2010 Hannover Concert.

Those two songs alone would make this video significant. “Suzanne” is arguably the most representative work in Leonard Cohen’s repertoire, dating back to the beginning of his career as a singer-songwriter, and “Avalanche” is a favorite of many fans, especially those who have admired Cohen over the years, but had been rarely played during the current tour until recently.

The video of this performance set is from anniesnake, who has contributed, by my count, seven videos from the Hannover show, two shot in color and five, including the “Suzanne” – “Avalanche” sequence, in black and white.

The stark clarity of the black and white recording fits seamlessly with the tone, lyrical content, lighting,1 and the staging, which revolves around Cohen accompanying himself on guitar.

From my perspective, the black and white videography significantly enhances the focus of and emotional impact on the viewer.

Leonard Cohen – Suzanne and Avalanche
Hannover: Sept 27, 2010
Video from anniesnake

The same technique, equally well executed, is, however, less successful on a number like “I’m Your Man” in which the other musicians play an important role and mood shifts from somber to satyric. The difference in the two videos is less that “I’m Your Man” is somehow flawed than that it lacks the profound resonance of “Suzanne” and “Avalanche.”

Leonard Cohen – I’m Your Man
Hannover: Sept 27, 2010
Video from anniesnake

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  1. The lighting for the Cohen Concerts is an often overlooked aspect of the presentation. In this context, it is particularly notable because the same dramatic effects that are most compelling for the live audience can prove insurmountable obstacles to still photographers and videographers. []

Video: Leonard Cohen’s Somber, Powerful Performance Of Suzanne – Ljubljana 2010

ljubljana-vids

And you want to travel with him, and you want to travel blind
And you think you maybe you’ll trust him
For he’s touched your perfect body with her mind

Despite the suboptimal camera movement, this video competently captures Leonard Cohen’s unembellished, moving performance of Suzanne.

Leonard Cohen – Suzanne
Ljubljana: Oct 12, 2010
Video by o5b

Note: Originally posted Oct 14, 2010 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Newly Posted Videos: Leonard Cohen Performs Suzanne & Lover, Lover, Lover – Kingston 2012

kingston2The same videographer responsible for the incredibly popular recording featured in yesterday’s entry, Newly Posted Video: Leonard Cohen Performs I’m Your Man and Hallelujah – Kingston 2012, has also posted videos of strong performances of two other songs from that same concert: Suzanne and Lover, Lover, Lover.

Leonard Cohen – Suzanne
Kingston: December 13, 2012
Video by JP Rayne

Leonard Cohen – Lover, Lover, Lover
Kingston: December 13, 2012
Video by JP Rayne

Leonard Cohen’s Notes On Suzanne: “Everything happened just as it was put down”

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I wrote this [“Suzanne”] in 1966. Suzanne [Verdal] had a room on a waterfront street in the port of Montreal. Everything happened just as it was put down. She was the wife of a man I knew. Her hospitality was immaculate. With guitar in hand, I decided to turn this poem into a song. I even sang it to Judy Collins over the telephone. She immediately liked something about the song but couldn’t tell me what it was. The publishing rights were lost in New York City and it is probably appropriate that I don’t own this song. Just the other day I heard some people singing it on a ship in the Caspian Sea.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

From “Some Notes On The Songs” on back cover of The Best of Leonard Cohen album (1975)

Discreet Video Captures Leonard Cohen’s Intimate Performance Of Suzanne – Bercy 2013

suzAnd you want to travel with her, and you want to travel blind
And you know that she will trust you
For you’ve touched her perfect body with your mind

The Sublimely Subdued Bercy Video

While I typically gravitate to videos with high contrast, bright, clear images close-up shots, and lots of action (e.g. Leonard Cohen and Roscoe Beck doing their white man dancing jig), I was overwhelmed by this video of Leonard Cohen singing Suzanne at Bercy on June 18, 2013, a recording which features a nearly stationary camera view and austerely understated visuals.

Leonard Cohen Performs Suzanne – The Bercy Cafe Version

The video by Lili072012 is shot from a perspective across from stage left. The camera does not zoom or pan. It does shift midway through the song to capture Alex Bublitchi during the brief period when his violin is dominant. The stage lighting obscures everyone except Cohen himself, the backup singers, and, briefly, Alex Bublitchi. There is little movement by the musicians themselves.

The video excludes awareness of the audience and the concert hall, invoking the sense of watching the performance from a well placed table at a coffeehouse. (OK, the last time I listened to music at a coffee house was when I heard Brewer & Shipley singing One Toke Over the Line at a place in Kansas City, but the video is more along the lines of what I imagine live music would sound like in a sophisticated Paris cafe.)

It is the perfect match of song and video technique.

Leonard Cohen – Suzanne
Bercy: June 18, 2013
Video by Lili072012

Note: Originally posted June 18, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“It raised the standard of what I wanted to write.” Joni Mitchell Talks About Hearing Leonard Cohen Sing “Suzanne” At The 1967 Newport Festival

1974_Joni_Mitchell
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At the [1967] Newport Folk Festival … Leonard did Suzanne. I’d met him and I went, ‘I love that song. What a great song.’ Really. Suzanne was one of the greatest songs I ever heard. So I was proud to meet an artist. He made me feel humble, because I looked at that song and I went, ‘Woah. All my songs seem so naive by comparison.’ It raised the standard of what I wanted to write.quotedown2

Joni Mitchell

From Joni Mitchell In Her Own Words by Malka Marom. ECW Press: September 9, 2014. Originally posted Sep 2, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Best Videos Of 2013 Leonard Cohen Tour: Suzanne – Vienna

sukkzSuzanne takes you down to her place near the river
You can hear the boats go by
You can spend the night beside her
And you know that she’s half crazy
But that’s why you want to be there
And she feeds you tea and oranges
That come all the way from China

Best 2013 Leonard Cohen Videos: Cohencentric.com is featuring selections from the current Best Of 2013 Leonard Cohen Tour Video Setlist, which comprises the best available video of each of the songs performed during the 2013 Leonard Cohen Old Ideas World Tour

Leonard Cohen – Suzanne
Vienna: July 27, 2013
Video by glauxath

Best Videos Of 2012 Leonard Cohen Tour: Suzanne – Helsinki

suzhhel

Now Suzanne takes your hand
And she leads you to the river
She is wearing rags and feathers
From Salvation Army counters
And the sun pours down like honey
On our lady of the harbour
And she shows you where to look
Among the garbage and the flowers
There are heroes in the seaweed
There are children in the morning
They are leaning out for love
And they will lean that way forever
While Suzanne holds the mirror

Best 2012 Leonard Cohen Videos: Cohencentric.com features selections from the Best Of 2012 Leonard Cohen Tour Video Setlist, which comprises the best available video of each of the songs performed during the 2012 Leonard Cohen World Tour.

Leonard Cohen – Suzanne
Helsinki: Sept 2, 2012
Video by (Marie Nolan)