Concert Review: Leonard Cohen, Rogers Arena, Vancouver, BC, Dec. 2, 2010

After his manager bilked him out of his savings, the right venerable, Canadian poet laureate and musical icon Leonard Cohen was forced out of retirement and sentenced to 241 shows.

However, if this sentence was to boredom, you couldn’t tell. Yes the 76-year-old looks 76 years old, but the verve and vitality with which he approached this Vancouver show was beguiling.

Dignified and energetic, Leonard tricked time with his agility, which he showcased often by dropping to one knee. Similarly bedecked in fine haberdashery, the band might have resembled Mad Men extras, but their sophisticated elegance befitted the occasion, as classically, strategically and sonically they built an ornate tower of song which their front man used to elevate the attendance out of the quotidian and into a state of transcendence.

"With impeccable sound and lighting so lush it felt HD, there was an air of opulence which transformed the hockey arena into something more stylish and classy - much like the man himself."

A chilled shaman and devotedly religious, Cohen oversaw a richly orchestrated celebration of love and life; this was not a vindictive man bitter at the circumstances that lead him here, but a poetic priest on a “mission” to share his words, experience and insight far and wide.

His trademark charm found the cracks in his frail frame to brightly shine through as he worked a solid 3-hour plus performance of his canon, starting with “Dance Me to the End of Love” and aptly wrapping with “Closing Time” with morsels of his dense and luscious catalog peppered in-between.

There was much to gorge on throughout, and surprisingly, there was no filler, as each song was served up with a sincere yet polished intensity like it might be the last time it was played -- which isn’t too far from the truth, as Vancouver is the sixth last date of this mammoth 2-year trek that ends in Las Vegas on December 11.

Early in the show Lenny promised “we’ll give you everything we’ve got” to the 7500+ faithful who shelled out up to $270 to participate, and true to both word and form, man and band delivered. With impeccable sound and lighting so lush it felt HD, there was an air of opulence which transformed the hockey arena into something more stylish and classy - much like the man himself.

Photo by Chris Rose

This was a night to cherish and remember, where both nascent and devoted alike were enraptured. With fewer artists aging with this caliber of respectability and grace, and with Leonard completing his 2-year odyssey with no foreseeable return, there will be fewer -- if any -- evenings like this, sadly.

Not only is he your man, he is the man.

--Chris Rose

(CLICK HERE for Cohen photo gallery)

Set 1
Dance Me to the End of Love
The Future
Ain't No Cure for Love
Bird on the Wire
Everybody Knows
In My Secret Life
Who By Fire
The Darkness
First We Take Manhattan
Chelsea Hotel #2
Waiting for the Miracle
Anthem

Set 2
Tower of Song
Suzanne
Avalanche
A Singer Must Die
Sisters of Mercy
The Gypsy's Wife
The Partisan
Boogie Street
Hallelujah
I'M Your Man
A Thousand Kissed Deep (poem)
Take this Waltz

Encores
So Long, Marianne
If It Be Your Will
Closing Time

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