Don Messerli’s Blog |

An exercise in self-indulgence.

Leonard Cohen Live - Hallelujah!!!!

Tuesday Nov 24, 2009

I never thought I would get to see Leonard Cohen perform in my lifetime. Until February of this year he hadn’t toured in the U.S. since 1994. I didn’t hear about the date in Nashville until the start of the week. I don’t know what happened with that. To say this was a big deal for me is a huge understatement. Going to see Leonard Cohen to me is like a Catholic going to see The Pope. No, I didn’t just compare Leonard Cohen to The Pope; just like John Lennon didn’t compare The Beatles to Jesus Christ.

He performed at The Tennessee Performing Arts Center (TPAC). The sound was perfect. His performance was spectacular. Regine and I have seen some legendary singers in the past few years; but they’ve been disappointments. Bob Dylan was almost impossible to understand and picked a poor grouping of songs to represent his career. Van Morrison was more concerned with the placement of instruments on the stage than his performance and didn’t perform any of his hits. Conversely, Leonard Cohen performed virtually all of the songs a die hard fan would want to hear. He didn’t sing “Jazz Police”; but I’m probably the only one who missed that one.

His voice was deep and sultry. Even better than it was on Leonard Cohen Live in London (CD and DVD). Not a hint of scratchiness which was evident on the recording. We were both amazed at how long he performed. Two full sets with an intermission in between; followed by at least 3 encores. He had quite a bit of energy for a 74 year old. He went down on his knees and then back up several times. I’d be sore after all of those lunges.

The show was very polished. This was to be expected considering that he has been touring almost non-stop since May 2008. He surrounded himself with a stellar group of musicians. Sharon Robinson, his long-time collaborator, and The Webb Sisters on backing vocals. Roscoe Beck was his musical director and stand-up bass player. Spanish multi-instrumentalist Javier Mas played the 12-string guitar and many traditional Spanish instruments. Neil Larsen played keyboards and Hammond Organ. Bob Metzger played guitar and steel guitar. Rafael Gayol on drums. Dino Soldo on keyboard, saxophone and various wind instruments. They all combined to provide a perfect musical experience.

Seeing Leonard Cohen live was a dream of mine. Now that it has been fulfilled, it is something I will never forget. A huge thanks to Regine for finding out about the concert.