AU ABROAD

Live Review: Leonard Cohen - Sydney Entertainment Centre (16.11.13)

Watching the much loved singer-songwriter, poet and novelist Leonard Cohen performing at the Entertainment Centre, it was hard to believe that he is seventy nine years old. Delivering songs both old and new with immense charm and panache as he prowled about the stage, Leonard's voice may have become far deeper than it was back in the sixties, but his passion remains strong.

Accompanied by an impressive ensemble that included three backup singers with silky smooth voices, violin, double bass, guitar and the hammond organ, Cohen had terrific support across the set and gave a number of the performers a chance to stand out. And with musicians who are as famous for their craft as Cohen is for his voice, it's a welcome embrace. That said, this show was well and truly about coming together to take in the marvel that is Leonard Cohen; his intensely moving, romantic and honest lyrics, deep gravelly vocals and extraordinary backlist of songs from the 1960s to now.

Presenting the show in two sets along with two encores, it was certainly a lengthy yet rewarding performance, coming in at about three and a half hours. Working in songs from his latest album of 2012, Old Ideas, including "Going Home" and "Amen", Cohen managed to show off his lasting ability to write sincere songs that now draw upon the talents of his ensemble to a greater extent. Indeed, as Cohen's vocals have deepened, the silky vocals of his backup singers have only become more complimentary.

Crowd favourites of the night would have to have been the uplifting "Anthem", "Tower Of Song" for it's witty lyrics, and "I'm Your Man". Bring in the heartfelt "Bird On A Wire", "The Partisan" and "Suzanne", and Cohen did a superb job of working in his older classics. Across the set, it would have to have been "Chelsea Hotel" that was the most moving, as Cohen performed this number solo with his guitar, with the raw, stripped back style being perfectly suited to the open nature of the song.

While this show may have verged on being too drawn out, it was a fantastic night of music showcasing one of the finest singers and songwriters of his generation.

SETLIST
Dance Me to the End of Love
The Future
Bird on the Wire
Everybody Knows
Who by Fire
Darkness
Amen
Come Healing
Lover Lover Lover
Anthem
--INTERMISSION--
Tower of Song
Suzanne
Chelsea Hotel #2
Waiting for the Miracle
The Partisan
Alexandra Leaving (performed by Sharon Robinson)
I'm Your Man
A Thousand Kisses Deep (recitation)
Hallelujah
Take This Waltz

Encore:
So Long, Marianne
Going Home
First We Take Manhattan

Encore 2:
Famous Blue Raincoat
If It Be Your Will (performed by the Webb Sisters)
Closing Time