Live Review: Leonard Cohen – Perth Arena (13.11.13)

This week the Australian leg of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Old Ideas World Tour’ arrived in Western Australia with a packed show at the Perth Arena. At 79 years old, Cohen doesn’t look to be slowing down any, treating his Perth fans to a three-hour set, that featured, a good twenty songs and not one, but two encores – and you got the impression he probably could have kept going.

From the onset, Cohen promised the audience ‘we’ll give everything we’ve got’ and over three hours later, that certainly seemed true – it was an exquisite endurance test, but one that was well worth it. It was a masterful and enthralling performance, not only from Cohen himself, but also from his band; who delivered such subtle and sublime arrangements to Cohen’s songs throughout the night.

Opening the proceedings with “Dance Me to the End of Love”, Cohen interlaced songs from Old Ideas, his most recent album, alongside classic tracks that he’s been playing for years. To pick a highlight, or a favourite moment from the night is probably a near impossible experience, though I would say that to finally hear the iconic and oft covered “Hallelujah” performed by its original composer was a definite highlight. I could easily say the same about “Chelsea Hotel #2”, “Everybody Knows” or “Lover Lover Lover”. Each song, new or old, was a delivered with a passion and verve that would have put many younger artists to shame.

Initially I had a few misgivings about the venue, for me an arena didn’t seem like the natural fit for an artist like Cohen, yet despite a few initial sound issues, it worked. Cohen managed to bring an element of intimacy to the performance, and the audience were so attentive, barring a few outbursts every now and then, they were sat in a hushed reverence, broken only by applause at the end of each song.

A sublime and enthralling performance, Leonard Cohen proved that he remains a consummate and captivating performer, one more than capable still to take audiences on a musical and emotional journey. This tour is surely one of the must see events of the coming weeks and months – if you haven’t got tickets yet, you’re missing out.


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Simon Clark

Books Editor. An admirer of songs and reader of books. Simon has a PhD in English and Comparative Literature. All errant apostrophes are his own.