Release Date: Mar 31, 2009
Genre(s): Folk, Live
Record label: Sony
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At 74, Leonard Cohen may no longer be — as he sings on ”So Long, Marianne” — cold as a new razor blade. But listening to this double CD, recorded last summer, it’s clear he’s still cool as a cucumber. Both an older, wiser counterpart to The Essential Leonard Cohen and, based on one recent concert, a quip-forquip preview of his spring tour, Live in London is a reminder that Cohen is as gifted a performer as he is a songwriter.
As more than one writer has pointed out, in 2008 and 2009 Leonard Cohen's loss became his audience's gain. After spending five years living as a monk in a Buddhist monastery during a sabbatical from music, Cohen discovered in 2005 that his former business manager had embezzled nearly all his savings, and two years later, in order to put his finances back in order, he warily agreed to an international concert tour, his first in nearly a decade and a half. Given the circumstances that prompted Cohen's return to the stage as well as his age -- 73 when the tour began -- one would have the right to wonder just how enthusiastic the great songwriter would be about meeting his audience again.
The loss of five million dollars can light a fire underneath anyone, even a serene, 74-year-old Buddhist poet/singer-songwriter, but to Leonard Cohen’s great credit, not only did he refuse to wither away after being swindled out of his savings and royalties by his former manager, but in the past year he’s returned to the stage, exhibiting a level of passion, verve, and grace that’s caught even his longtime fans by surprise. When 2008 rolled around, it had been 15 years since the Canadian legend last toured (in support of his great 1992 album The Future), but with the help of a brilliant nine-piece supporting band, he headed back on the road with gusto, playing more than 60 dates in Eastern Canada, the UK, and Europe. By the time Cohen and band played to a huge crowd of 20,000 at London’s O2 Arena on July 17th, they were well-oiled, two months into the big comeback tour, and with recording and film crews there to capture the event, they went on to deliver a spellbinding, seductive, pristine, near-three-hour set that spanned the man’s 40-year musical career.