Leonard Cohen Live: A Tower of Soul

Akoo Theatre Rosemont, IL - Friday November 23, 2012

A truly great concert experience transcends our very being revealing uncertainties and desires in totality. Leonard Cohen is one of the few artists capable of providing a enlightening out-of-body experience; he delivers more than a show but a master's workshop on the magnificence and menace we stumble upon day-after-day. Cohen is more of a prophet than a performer as he effortlessly guides his audience through the shifting neighborhoods of their existence. Watching Cohen on the concert stage is largely unparalleled because he doesn't rely on any artifice other than the power of his songs and the sincerity with which they are delivered. On his recent stop through Chicago, at Rosemont's Akoo Theatre, Cohen performed thirty songs over the course of 190-minutes with a nine piece band who, along with Cohen's cavernous yet soothing voice, made you feel like everything you ever needed to know about life was right on that stage.

Opening the show was "Dance Me to the End of Love" which found Cohen's voice harmonizing with a tender violin and was delivered it from his knees which became a regularity throughout the evening. A slight organ fell upon a blues chord completing the picture of "Bird on the Wire" as his two aged hands gripped the microphone, his eyes closed and three backing singers beckoned the gates of heaven with their voices. "Who by Fire" featured a entrancing performance from Roscoe Beck on stand-up bass as his fingers slid up and down the neck not to show off, but as if he was seducing a woman. The lower register's of Cohen's voice send chills down our spines on "Everybody Knows"; the lyrical delivery was spoken rather than sung and yet it was transfixing. "Come Healing" from his latest record was a hymn of the body and spirit. The arrangements are not elaborately structured as Cohen's songwriting style comes from a pre-rock n' roll era. Despite this, his band towered over the material serving it adroitly and yet never eclipsed Cohen's meditative lyrics. They offered sapcious arrangements while Cohen's lyrical flair for elegiac splendour thrived which is rivaled only by Bob Dylan. Another warming element of the evening was to see how enthralled Cohen was with his band. These aren't merely hired hands, but musicians he has a profound amount of respect for. He referred to them by name several times throughout the show Sharon Robinson's lead on "Alexandra Leaving" was soulfully sublime while the Webb Sisters divinely delivered ethereal vocals "If it Be Your Will", all while Cohen looked on from stage left standing up straight and hat off and over his heart in respect as the consumate gentleman.Cohen comes off like a esteemed scholar and professor whom we stand in rapt attention as he helps us navigate the intricacies of life. He's seventy-eight-years-old and puts more into the peformance than ninety-percent of the performers today. You are transported through tunnels of wrenching depth on "Darkness" and eclipses of the moon on "Amen". You feel as if these songs have been living with you, your entire life, they offer a immense sense of comfort and familiarity. You may not know all of the songs, or only a handful, but the waterfall of emotions will pour over you and even the most jaded of souls will walk away with answers to what we thought was unanswerable.

After a brief twenty-minute intermission, the second set opened with "Tower of Song" which was uncomplicated with Cohen standing behind a keyboard with a backing drum track and yet you fall under its spell immediately. On "Suzanne" he reached back and found that same young man all those years ago who had written this song about adoring love. "Democracy" and "Im Your Man" are compositional skyscrapers that we stand in awe of simply gasping at not just their splendour but wondering how they were composed. If the mainset wasn't enough, he performed eight songs over three separate encores. "So Long, Marianne" (whom the Macnchester band James did a lovely cover of in the 1990s), "Going Home" from his stunning 2012 album Old Ideas, which confirms that his songwriting abilities are still leap years ahead of everyone with his only true peer being Bob Dylan. Old Ideas caputes his top tier songwriting with his more submissive arrangements. "First We Take Manahttan" was the closest the evening came to a arena rock moment with a bustling band galloping in tandem with one another. "Famous Blur Raincoat" and "I Tried To Leave You" fuses jazzy blues but the songs are so irrefutable they don't just grip the auudience's attention, they also sweep them off their feet.

Leonard Cohen weaves tales of dreadfulness, slaughter, anxiety and elation like a mythic storyteller. There is a underlying genuineness in every lyric he's ever written and on the stage in the Akoo Theatre in Rosemont the evening was more than a performance, but was where his catalog became scripture plunging all of us into the deep waters of humanity. Every lyric was wrung from a poetic and personal experience and yet he personalizes it via uninmaginable dimensions. His best known song "Hallelujah" was no exception; you may have heard the song before by someone else, but I can assure you, you've never heard it until you've seen Cohen on a concert stage sing it in a reasoning calm that feels like an answered prayer. As it began, Cohen was basking in the glow of a white light and he slowly made his way to his knees where he sung it like a last plea. The hymnal lyrics and the Cohen's affecting voice were in the front of the car navigating us through daylight, darkness, torrential downpours, blistering heat and moments of immeasurable magnificence there are simply no words in the human language that can capure the essence of it all. You want to fall to your knees and cry, stand up and applaud, grab the person closest to you and clench them as we feel the self-imposed chains drop to the ground. And to think Cohen's record company rejected the album that contained this song.

The concert stage is like a home Leonard Cohen, which he opens to us and proves to be a masterful host. His performances are a gathering of friends who instead of walking the halls and rooms of a home looking at carefully placed furnitutre we find outrelves is the subtlety spiritual of his songs. Cohen may look like a gentle seventy-eight year man but his subterranean supple bartitone voice takes his audience on a tumultuous and holy passage. Despite the fact that many of these songs were written entire lifetimes ago, they came across as deep personal expressions. Cohen's learned experiences help inform us as we look upon his characters, stories and songs as conduits to our own frame of mind. When the last song had finished, "Save the Last Dance for Me"- a Drifters cover, the crowd was stirring as Cohen took his final bow and sprinted galliently offstage. His physical presence may have left the room, but his songs, their words and above all else the sensation the songs fueled us with resonated with everyone in attendance. It's simply a experience that will never leave your being.

Anthony Kuzminski is a Chicago based writer and Special Features Editor for the antiMUSIC Network. His daily writings can be read at The Screen Door. He can be contacted at tonyk AT antiMUSIC DOT com and can be followed on Twitter

Leonard Cohen Live: A Tower of Soul

Share this article

More articles for this artist .



News Reports
Day in Rock:
Phil Collins Wanted To Walk Off Stage At Led Zeppelin Reunion- Asking Alexandria Reunite With Singer Danny Worsnop- Prince's Early Guitar Going Up For Auction- more

Of Mice & Men's Austin Carlile Undergoes Surgery- Korn's New Album Streaming- Rolling Stones Stream New Song Clip- David Bowie's Final Recordings Streaming- more

Guns N' Roses Song Part Of Murder Case- Steve Tyler Urged Alice Cooper To Not Let Joe Perry Perform- Vince Neil Pleads Guilty To Battery- Asking Alexandria Reunite?- more

Day in Pop:
Lady Gaga Song Given Iron Maiden Makeover- 'Harry Potter' Film Producers Rejected Bruce Springsteen Song- Rapper Childish Gambino Cast In Star Wars Movie- more

Ozzy Osbourne Taught Son Jack How Not To Parent- Azealia Banks Pressing Charges Against Russell Crowe- Prince 'Purple Rain' Deluxe Edition, Prince 4Ever Albums Announced- more

Blink-182 Reinterpret 'What's My Age Again?' Video With Nude Women- Former Pearl Jam Member Upset About Rock Hall Snub- Chess Records Cofounder Phil Chess Dies- more



Rocktober Reads: Lou Gramm's Juke Box Hero: My Five Decades in Rock'n'Roll

Rocktober Reads: Duff McKagan's It's So Easy (And Other Lies)

Sites and Sounds: Jazz Fest Edition

Rocktober Reads: Here, There and Everywhere: My Life Recording the Music of the Beatles

Rocktober Reads: 'To Live Is To Die: The Life and Death of Metallica's Cliff Burton

Rocktober Reads: Ozzy Osbourne's I Am Ozzy

TBT: The Replacements - Don't You Know Who I Think I Was

The Begowatts - Photoelectric

Thy Catafalque - Sgurr

Road Trip: Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival

TBT Interview: Whitesnake's David Coverdale

Almanac Mountain - Cryptoseismology

Six Feet Under - Graveyard IV The Number of the Priest

Sites and Sounds: Wire & Wood Songwriters Festival

Dio - Holy Diver

Rock Reads: Dynamic Song Performance: The Singers Bible

Iron Savior - Titancraft

Root 66: Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver - Burden Bearer

Suidakra - Realms of Odoric

On The Record: Motosierra

Gravitysays_i - Quantum Unknown more

Rock News Stories
Phil Collins Wanted To Walk Off Stage At Led Zeppelin Reunion

Asking Alexandria Reunite With Singer Danny Worsnop

Prince's Early Gibson Guitar Going Up For Auction

Metallica and Tool Stars Have Running Joke About Album Delays

Avenged Sevenfold To Stream Concert From 'Very Grand Stage'

Frank Iero Releases New Song, Heartfelt Message To Fans

Blackberry Smoke Release 'Sunrise In Texas' Video

Black Veil Brides Frontman Reveals New Album Update

Alter Bridge Explain Evolution Of 'Losing Patience'

Saxon Invite Nurse That Helped Save Nigel's Life To Show

Wilko Johnson and Suzi Quatro Receive Honorary Doctorates

Metal Inspired Retro Game Being Crowd Funded


B-Side Stories
Lady Gaga Song Given Iron Maiden Makeover

Harry Potter Film Producers Rejected Bruce Springsteen Song

Rapper Childish Gambino Cast In Star Wars Movie

One Direction's Liam Payne Inks Deal For Solo Music

Amy Schumer Parodies Beyonce's 'Formation' Video

R. Kelly Announces 12 Nights Of Christmas Tour

Carrie Underwood Hopes To Have More Children

Jordan Rager Announces 'Southern Boy' EP

Bob Dylan's Website Removes Nobel Prize Mention

Lil Wayne Rules Out Being Close To Birdman Again

Tucker Beathard Moving Beyond 'Rock On' With New Music

A Look Back At Taylor Swift's 'Red' Three Years Later


Follow Us:

Contact Us - Privacy - antiMusic Email - Why we are antiMusic

Copyright© 1998 - 2016 Iconoclast Entertainment Group All rights reserved.

Please click here for legal restrictions and terms of use applicable to this site. Use of this site signifies your agreement to the terms of use.