ABOUT LAST NIGHT: New Ceremony For Old Skin

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I’M YOUR FAN: Leonard Cohen on bended knee, Academy of Music, last night [Photo by MICHAEL T. REGAN]

meAVATAR2.jpgBY JONATHAN VALANIA The Great Man glides onstage in black pinstripes and a fedora like a gangster cantor, double-breasted and tie-less, his crisp creamy blue shirt buttoned-up to the neck David Lynch-style. He seems to walk on air. He was born like this, he had no choice, he was born with the gift of a golden voice. Now his friends are gone and his hair is grey, he aches in the places he used to play. After all these years, he’s still crazy for love but he’s not coming on. At 74, broke and hat in hand, he is still paying his rent every day in the Tower of Song.

For the next three hours, he dispenses what amount to be prayers and we will need them where we are going. For he has seen the future, baby, and it is murder. Everybody knows the war is over, everybody knows the good guys lost. Everybody knows the rich have got their channels in the bedrooms of the poor.  And, he says, there is a mighty judgment coming, though he might be wrong. But this much is true: we may be ugly, he insists, but we have the music. Because everybody knows the rich write history, but the poor write the songs. His mind is still sharp as a razor blade and he remembers them all: the one who gave him head in an unmade bed, the sisters of mercy with dew on their hem,  the one in the famous blue raincoat who was gonna go ‘clear,’ the bird on a wire, the drunk in the midnight choir. All of them, the Great Man included, have tried in their own way, to be free.

We have paid dearly for this audience with the Great Man and he is eternally grateful for our sacrifice, humbled in fact. He delivers many a song on his knees, and doffs his cap with humility after every standing ovation, every exclamation of adoration from the back row of the highest balcony. “So much of the world is plunged in chaos and suffering, it’s remarkable that we have the opportunity to gather in places like this,” the Great Man says, his eyes scanning the Academy of Music’s gilded splendor. “I haven’t been here in a long time, it was 15 years ago and I was 60, just a kid with a crazy dream,” he continues, and we all laugh even though we know he is only half-kidding. “Since then, I’ve taken a lot of Prozac, Paxil, Effexor, Wellbutrin, Ritalin and double strength Tylenol. I also plunged into a rigorous study of religion and philosophy, but cheerfulness kept breaking through.” Which is another way of saying ‘there is a crack in everything, that’s where the light gets in.’ Hallelujah. Amen. Over and out.



RELATED: Dan DeLuca’s Concert Review

PREVIOUSLY: First We Take Manhattan
Set list after the jump…

LEONARD COHEN ACADEMY OF MUSIC  5/12/09

Dance Me To The End Of Love
The Future
Ain’t No Cure For Love
Bird On Wire
Everybody Knows
In My Secret Life
Who By Fire
Chelsea Hotel
Anthem

INTERMISSION

Tower Of Song
Suzanne
Take This Waltz
Boogie Street
Hallelujah
I’m Your Man
Democracy
—–
So Long Marianne
First We Take Manhattan
—–
Famous Blue Raincoat
Sisters Of Mercy
If It Be Your Will
Closing Time
—–
I Tried To Leave You
Whither Thou Goest

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