CARAS The Juno Awards catch a lot of heat for being too predictable and too…
- Posted on Dec 21st 2012 2:15PM by Dan Reilly
Mike Lawrie, Getty Images
His trademark fedora almost permanently pulled down to his eyes, Cohen delivered an unforgettable evening at the Barclays Center, performing 29 songs over three hours without breaking stride. He skipped onstage at the beginning of both sets and both encores, dropped down to his knees almost as many times as he said "thank you," and made more than a few references to ladies-man persona.
Early on, he told the crowd that he plans to tour for a few more years, adding that he's going to start smoking again once he turns 80. Oddly enough, his already-heavy voice has deepened by half an octave since he quit, giving it a warm, full-bodied tone that makes his songs even more captivating. The added weight makes classics like "Bird on a Wire," which came third in the set, even more mournful than the originals, especially when Cohen's band gets into a bluesy groove.
Cohen also took time to pepper in a few jokes for the crowd, thanking those in the cheap seats for climbing the arena's great heights and those on the floor for putting their income in jeopardy. Before "Ain't No Cure for Love," he quipped that he sometimes looks at himself in the mirror and says, "Lighten up, Leonard, you stubborn bastard."
After finishing the first set with "Anthem," Cohen returned on keyboard for "Tower of Song," chiding the audience for cheering his sparse solo. "I can do a lot more than fingering," he said. "I'll break my guitar over this and set it on fire. No more of this charity!"
The second set was full of even more hits, including "Suzanne," "Chelsea Hotel #2," "I'm Your Man," "Hallelujah" -- with Cohen tweaking the words to mention the "holy city of Brooklyn" -- and the set closer "Take This Waltz."
Following barely any time off the stage, Cohen hurried back for a pair of three-song encores, beginning with "So Long, Marianne" and "Going Home" off his latest album, Old Ideas. He ended the show, appropriately, with "Closing Time," sending the Brooklyn audience back out into the cold, drizzly December night.
In the end, it seemed as if Cohen knew that he doesn't have many years left, hence all the gratitude, the youthful energy and the epic length of his set. His constant self-deprecation belied a man conflicted about his success and adoration, but nonetheless enjoying every minute of it. And as well he should -- nobody his age is putting out albums as interesting or concerts as compelling.