Portland, Oregon – Leonard Cohen and his wonderful supporting cast came to the Rose Garden as one of the late ads to a monumental world tour that began nearly three years ago and gave fans what may be the last chance to see a live show. Leonard Cohen is 76, and plans to go into the studio for a new album. He hadn’t toured for 15 years, so another world marathon is unlikely.
As a nod to the crowd and the real likelihood that they might be seeing a last dance, Cohen said “I don’t know when we may be back this way again, but tonight, we’ll give you all we’ve got.” That’s a promise kept, without question.
Cohen also made light of his age when speaking about the length of the tour, which he described as beginning when “I was 73, a kid with a dream.”
Good music can get you lost in the moment – great music is transcendental, moving beyond time and place to leave you in awe. The show began almost on-time at 8:00, and didn’t wrap up until 11:40, with a break in the middle. Throughout, Cohen kept the crowd mesmerized.
When I discovered Leonard Cohen was coming to Portland back in September, my wife was very open to the “suggestion” of a ticket as a birthday present. I felt lucky, I fully expected the show to rank among the best I’ve seen, and that’s a big order – I’ve caught some awesome shows over the years.
Cohen holds a special place in my life, as listening to the album “I’m Your Man” takes me back to a romantic restaurant setting in Kherson, Ukraine, where I became certain I was in love with my future wife. I’d been a fan of Cohen for years, and to hear his entire album being played in an eatery in Ukraine helped to etch the evening in stone.
With such a fascinating voice and deeply evocative lyrics, a backing band needs to be strong. The coalition of talent built around Leonard Cohen shined. With flamenco guitar, an arsenal of wind instruments, cello, harp, amazing bass, precise percussion, and stellar background singing, the talent on display was amazing.
A fan’s website that I link to here not only lists the band members for the tour, but has a complete list of concert dates, cities, and even recently updated set lists for all shows.
Cohen looks at love and all it’s highs, lows, aspirations, shortcomings, ecstasy, and desperation. His explorations of spirituality circle back to love – confusion and longing, hate and overwhelming emotion. If you are even a little familiar with the writing of Leonard Cohen, you know what I mean.
Sadly, if you don’t have tickets for one of the few remaining shows, you are likely out of luck. Still, you can find solace in the music of a lyrical genius who also happens to have an almost ethereal voice.
Decades after anyone knowing names like Taylor Swift or Justin Bieber are long gone, there will still be people listening to the music of Leonard Cohen.