A tower of song

When he jogged back on stage for a final, final encore to his Perth concert, singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen launched into I tried to leave you with heavy irony. It was a fitting end to a wonderful, warm November evening at Perth Oval.

Some of Cohen’s long time fans stayed away, fearing that the urban venue might steal some of the magic of the outstanding 2009 concert at Sandalford winery. Their loss. Leonard Cohen was on song, pulling favorite after favourite out of the hat. During his 2009 tour it was clear that Cohen has mellowed with age, acquiring a softer edge to his delivery. But the depth of passion is still there at the heart. Perhaps there was a hint of world-weariness in some of his arrangements. However, anyone wondering when Leonard Cohen might start slowing down will have to go on speculating. The tempo picked up with Everybody Knows. By the time we got to the Partisan and First we take Manhattan, there was a thundering authority to his delivery. In the Tower of Song, Cohen sang with characteristic self-deprecating humour and gravelly undertone of being born with the gift of a golden voice. Then, when performing his own helleluia chorus, he sank to his knees in an act of intense personal devotion. Here is a man with much more than a golden voice; his songs form a vehicle for an unusually wide range of emotions, particularly for those of a certain age.

Though subtle, there was another appreciable difference from the 2009 performance. This week’s concert was about the supporting musicians even more than last time. Although Cohen’s gracious recognition of each and every one of his support has become something of a hallmark, you have to wonder if he is working towards a legacy. The instrumental solos added a further layer of musical beauty to the still evening air. And then there were the Webb sisters, whose rendition of If it be your will raised the question of when or whether the group will tour again. Let’s hope they do, and soon.

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