You would be hard pressed to find a more celebrated musician than Leonard Cohen. The infamous singer, songwriter, poet and novelist has received almost all of music’s highest honours, including induction to the American Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame, a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, induction to the Songrwriter’s Hall of Fame, induction to the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and induction to the Canadian Songwriter’s Hall of Fame. Not only that, but the now 80 year old was also the recipient of the Companion of the Order Of Canada, the nation’s highest honour. He has released 13 studio albums since his 1967 debut album Songs of Leonard Cohen and his most recent record, 2014’s Popular Problems has reached number 1 in 31 countries. Loved by fans, critics and peers alike, Cohen now brings us a new way to celebrate his lifetime of astounding achievements with a 3 disc CD/DVD release, Leonard Cohen Live In Dublin.
Bruce Eder has said of Cohen that “he is one of the most fascinating and enigmatic singer/songwriters of the late 60’s and has retained an audience across four decades of music making… second only to Bob Dylan” and nothing proves the point like this recording of his 2012 full length concert. Time has been kind to Cohen, losing none of his appeal or thirst for audience connection and the ride he takes us on is like a trip through time. Fascinating and enigmatic is absolutely the perfect description.
Filmed for the first time in high definition, the sound is crystal clear and the mood vibrant as ever. The three hour concert starts on Disc One with a few more recent tracks thrown in amongst some Cohen live show staples, namely Amen and Come Healing of 2012. Bird On A Wire features here however as the early standout. Disc Two revisits some old favourites that Cohen himself has admitted should probably have been retired long ago. I could perhaps agree with him on Suzanne, but a bigger lie was never told when it comes to Hallelujah. One of the most beautiful songs in history, in my opinion at least, should never be passed over and the chance to hear it from the man himself after so many cover versions is truly a gift. He performs it with all the passion and emotion of the original and a Cohen set would only suffer without it. Disc Three features a lengthy encore performance boasting the cheeky Closing Time and the never before heard Doc Pomus cover Save The Last Dance For Me.
Leonard Cohen has been covered by some of the greatest musician’s of all time, including Bob Dylan, Nina Simone, Jeff Buckley, Johnny Cash, Tori Amos and Nick Cave to name a few and here it is easy to see what. Not only is the music stunning and timeless, but Cohen is mesmerising. This record is an education in music history and appreciation, and I believe the next best thing to seeing Leonard Cohen live. Rarely is a live recording so completely pristine and captivating, but anything less wouldn’t have done justice to this incredible body of work from one of the most influential songwriters in history.