Friday, June 12, 2009

BBC iPlayer - Leonard Cohen Live in London

A recording of a concert from Leonard Cohen's 2008-2009 world tour. For a limited time. UK only

"For over four decades, Leonard Cohen has been one of the most important and influential songwriters of our time, a figure whose body of work achieves greater depths of mystery and meaning as time goes on. In 2008, Leonard Cohen embarked on his first tour in 15 years. His set included Hallelujah, Suzanne, Bird on the Wire, I'm Your Man, The Future, Democracy, Dance Me to the End of Love and First We Take Manhattan, and was quickly recognised as musical folklore in the making, leaving fans and critics alike hailing the show as a once-in-a-lifetime experience."

I've been listening to the double album, it's a superb concert with humorous banter, music (including the brilliant blowing of Dino Soldo and the whole band) and singing and, of course, poetry. Unfortunately the BBC iPlayer recording only includes 60 minutes out of a concert that was about 140 minutes (rough calculation from the iTunes tracks). Of course they choose such things as Bird on the Wire, where many afficionados would probably choose a completely different 60 minutes. They should have put the whole concert up in two parts - I don't think it would do anything other than increase the record sales.

Just playing it back now while typing, and they have destroyed the concert - emasculated it! Can you seriously imagine the leaden editing process that cuts out most of the banter and skips "Ain't No Cure for Love", takes the lugubrious "Bird on the Wire" and skips all the following: "Everybody Knows", "In My Secret Life", "Who By Fire", "Hey that's no way to say goodbye", "Anthem" (my favourite), "Introduction", "Tower of Song" and skips to the overplayed "Suzanne", then skips "The Gypsy's Wife" and "Boogie Street" and jumps to the overplayed "Hallelujah" etc. A complete travesty of the concert and also a little dishonest because nowhere does it mention that this is less than half of the actual concert, it just says "A recording of a concert".

That said, it's still worth seeing for the stage antics that you can't get from the concert recording alone. "White man dancing" is one such moment. Finding out what the reference to Dino Soldo "on the instrument of wind" means is another (it's some sort of an instrument that LC suggest, probably jokingly, he doesn't know its exact name). I'm updating while playing, just on "I'm your man" now. Apologies if my updates cross with comments.

[Ach, it's great, just watching it again, without writing this rubbish. I'm glad Rainbow Spike likes it. Something better watching things when knowing somebody else is or has been watching. Thanks.]



rainbow spike said...

what a delightful fellow that man is. i like his recovery when he makes that small mistake with the lyric in Bird on a Wire. Another show worth the licence money.

Ossian said...

It's noticeable how much he changes the words from the original recorded versions too, such as that part of Bird on the Wire. Cheers, thanks for reading and all your comments over the years.

rainbow spike said...

almost 50 years (!!) of reviews of, and interviews etc with, Leonard here.

rainbow spike said...

or, rather, more than 50 years.