For over four decades, Leonard Cohen has been one of the most important and influential songwriters of our time, a figure whose body of work achieves greater depths of mystery and meaning as time goes on. His songs have se... more »t a virtually unmatched standard in their seriousness and range. Sex, spirituality, religion, power - he has relentlessly examined the largest issues in human lives, always with a full appreciation of how elusive answers can be to the vexing questions he raises. But those questions, and the journey he has traveled in seeking to address them, are the ever-shifting substance of his work, as well as the reasons why his songs never lose their overwhelming emotional force. Documentaries, awards, tribute albums and the ongoing march of artists eager to record his songs all acknowledge the peerless contribution Cohen has made to what one of his titles aptly calls "The Tower of Song." In 2008 Leonard Cohen embarked on his first tour in 15 years. Quickly recognized as musical folklore in the making, 29 of the original dates sold out almost immediately, leaving fans and critics alike hailing the show as a once in a lifetime experience. By popular demand, the Canadian/UK tour was extended and by the end of that year it had reached 84 markets worldwide, selling more than 700,000 tickets. The Live In London release fully captures and recreates the extraordinary show from that tour that earned Cohen more than 80 five-star reviews for his performances.
William E. Innes | Benicia, CA United States | 04/02/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I swore I would not open this DVD until after seeing L. Cohen in Oakland the Monday after next. But I'm so glad I broke my vow.
This is one of the most wonderful concerts I've ever seen captured on DVD. The band and Leonard's singers are top-notch, and one senses that they feel as though they are a part of something special. The songs span nearly 40 years of a canon that is second to none.
Most amazing of all,though, is how a digital disc can cut through its own technology and exude so much warmth and passion. Even when the camera shows a close shot of Cohen, one can still sense the warmth, love and admiration coming from the ecstatic London audience.
As for Leonard Cohen...if he were to do nothing but sing, that would be enough given the wonderful breadth of material performed at this concert. However, his gentle and gracious command of the stage provides this show an added depth and dimension. Within the span of minutes he can be hilarious, self-deprecating, humble, poignant, appreciative...and I could easily go on with the superlatives to describe his on-stage demeanor.
Very often I make a point of remembering to trust the art and not the artist. In the case of Leonard Cohen, I tend to trust both. His warmth seems genuine. Unlike so many of his stature, his humility comes across as real. His spoken words are every bit as powerful as those that are sung. Given the way that the barriers are broken down between the singer and the band and the audience...to the point where it feels as though they are all part of one celebratory evening...such humility, graciousness and warmth cannot be anything but genuine.
The highlights are too many to mention: "Suzanne" sounds as fresh as it did 40 years ago. "Anthem" sounds more urgent today than when it was first penned. "The Future" & "First We Take Manahattan" are even more biting now in the 21st Century than when they were first penned. Cohen's increased age gives songs such as "Boogie Street," "Tower of Song," & "Democracy" a world weariness that makes these songs all the more penetrating. His lovely "If It Be Your Will" sounds as much like a prayer as it does one of the loveliest songs ever written. If I don't stop now, I'll wind up writing accolades about every song on this DVD. Yes, it is that wonderful!
I've been fortunate to see so many of the greats in my lifetime - legends whose works will be remembered for decades to come. Some have been surly and stand-offish. Others have been appreciative and welcoming toward their audience.
It is refreshing to see the best of everything embodied in this Leonard Cohen concert. Songs that are amongst the best ever written, still performed with a passion (as well as with the added wisdom that comes from Cohen being 74 years young), with a band & audience & singer all equally committed to one another.
There are moments when I laughed out loud at Leonard's deadpan, wry humor. There were times when tears welled in my eyes from the sincerity of the words that came out of his mouth, either spoken or in song.
In a day and age where so much seems packaged and perfunctionary, it is refreshing to see & hear someone such as Cohen whose observations can warm the heart or cut like a knife to get to the heart of a matter. He is the real deal. No airs, no faux modesty...just a man with four decades' worth of majestic material, with an excellent band whose respect for Cohen is reciprocated by their singer with his respect for their talents & abilities, along with a genuine warmth & sense of humanity that allows Leonard Cohen to turn a large London venue into a setting that is as intimate as being in one's living room.
Without a doubt, one of the finest, most moving and most satisfying concert DVDs I've ever seen.
I'm glad that I opened this prior to April 13. Seeing this makes me look forward to seeing Cohen in a small Oakland theater even more so than I already was.
However, had I not been fortunate enough to have gotten a ticket for his upcoming concert, I have to say that this DVD would have been a more than fine consolation. It is worth every cent. The staging, lighting, musicianship, song selection and sound are painstakingly stellar, obviously given great care & much thought.
This is a true gem, a most worthy representation of one of the greatest songwriters of our time.
KB | Australia | 03/30/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Leonard Cohen commands attention for the entire concert, which is amazing considering his 74 years. He is warm, humorous and humble to his audience and hardly makes an error in presenting over 40 years of his music.
Cohen looks and speaks like a benevolent Tony Bennett-like figure who beams at his audience after each song and clutches his hat to his chest like an ageing grandfather greeting cherished old friends at a local bus stop.
His backing musicians and female vocal group are top-notch as well.
On the down side, the technical production is disappointing. For what would have to contend as THE concert event of the decade, the presentation in 4:3 format with a picture that could be described as analog quality at best is hardly acceptable in 2009, especially when it was recorded just last July.
The camera work is often sloppy and unimaginative. The continuity editing is the same.
But full marks to Cohen and his band for a performance that has to be seen as well as heard. Others have used the words "beautiful", "warm", "gracious", "amazing", "joyful" and "sublime". I can not disagree with any of that.
Regrettably, the DVD version has not done this major musical milestone the justice it warrants but it is still worth it."
Could have been a five-star, but...
Eric J. Anderson | Ankeny, Iowa | 04/18/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is pretty much a bare bones DVD featuring extended London concert footage. I have no beef with the camera work. It is simple, but effective, and much preferable to so many concert videos where the camera moves so much and cuts from one angle to the next occur so quickly it threatens to give one vertigo, or at least a headache.
The choice of 4:3 aspect ratio, in an era where even run-of-the-mill TV shows are widescreen, is inexplicable. The video quality is good, but not great.
The audio could have been better. Happily, an uncompressed LCPM stereo track is available (the default) on the DVD, which should make for maximum sound quality. But the disc producers chose to muck this up, too. The sound is dynamically compressed, i.e. the soft parts are made loud so the dynamic contrast between soft and loud is blunted. When the band gets going full blast, the sound is congested -- it loses some clarity. Nevertheless, I would rate the sound as good, not great -- equivalent in sound quality to a musical segment on the Letterman show or Tonight Show on digital TV.
The concert is great, and Leonard is full of warmth and grit, whatever is called for. Leonard Cohen appears to be having the time of his life, and the band is perfect. His angelic choir, a trio of female backup singers, is magnificent. The guitarist provides Knopfler-esque lead lines, and his "wind instrument" and keyboard players add richness to the mix.
This is the perfect introduction to Leonard Cohen. It represents his best compositions (though I am disappointed that Joan of Arc is not part of the set list). At age 74 Cohen's voice is a bit husky, but these performances are as good as any I've ever heard on his studio albums or live material. (Granted, I do not have a large collection of Cohen albums, however I appreciate very much his songs, including those performed by other artists.) It's hard to imagine him ever topping this.
If you are unfamiliar with Leonard Cohen's music, it is generally quite simple, with common chord progressions and easy melodies. You might quickly find yourself singing along with these tunes. Cohen's strengths are his poetry and his delivery of the poetic line. He has always loved embellishing the simplicity of the songs with female choruses and fuller arrangements, while the structure retains the essence of folk music. Sometimes he favors a Spanish rhythm.
For me, this is the definitive Leonard Cohen live performance, much as Joni Mitchell's Shadows and Light concert DVD highlights her best songs and best performances a with dream team band. That DVD is also deficient technically, but the music shines through. So it is here. It's a five star concert with one star deducted for technical quality that does not measure up to the artistry of the performance. "
You must buy this!
M. Ungvarsky | Hexenwald, USA | 04/09/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Last week I realized that Leonard Cohen is going to perform in Philadelphia next month. I am not living there, but it would be in a distance one could realistically travel to. So I went to a fansite and searched around for more info, eventually I found links to ticket sellers and online dealers etc.
Ha! Prices between 129 $ and 249 $ per ticket?! Who could afford that? Well, maybe people from New York or California, but avarage middle-class people from a low-income state with an average income certainly cannot. So what now?
I got this DVD instead.
And it is great.
And guess what, it was on sale for 16.99$. A concert of two and a half hours length!
I watched it yesterday and I must say, this is really a great deal, definately worth more than it costs. I am fascinated by this graceful old man, this wise poet, who is so humble and modest on the stage, and so great.
He keeps introducing the band by their names, which I liked a lot. This reminds you that the show is a team effort, not just one guy with some anonymous dudes in the back. No, the three singers and and the musicians are really very good, and they absolutely deserve to be announced by their names!
This reminded me of a singer I once knew. She always makes a point that she (and nobody else, just she, and she alone!) is the leadsinger of a certain group. She performs with 2 background singers, and they used to start every concert with a song that featured all three of them individually in a separate solo verse. One of the backing singers regularly got bigger applause for her solo than Madame. What do you think happened? Yes, right, that song was changed, and no solo verses have been sung ever again but by herself. That was in 1991 or so, and they still start with the same song, but never again with solo verses in any song. Nobody can get more applause than Madame herself! So there!
When I watched this Cohen concert yesterday, I was impressed how gracefully and generously this man pointed out the huge talents of his musicians. Not once but like eleven times during the 125 minutes of the concert! Yes, he can share the light, and he clearly was not jealous that also the musicians and the singers received applause they deserved.
I am still in awe of this poet.
If you can afford to see him in concert, absolutely go for it!
If you are like me, middle-class in a low-income state, and 2 concert tickets would cost the monetary equivalent of 5-8 days of work - then get this DVD!
Really! I mean it!
Even in case it is no longer on sale when you read this. Buy this and be happy and enjoy a wonderful concert."
How the Light Gets In
J. Irwin | Scottsdale, AZ | 04/10/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"My wife and I had the privilege of seeing Leonard in concert here in Phoenix on April 5. The performance was quite possibly the best I've seen in more than 40 years of attending concerts, and it was nearly identical to the London concert captured on this DVD. As a result, we now have a wonderful reminder of the superb show we saw. But for those unable to attend the live show, this DVD is the next best thing to being there. Still, if you can be there, don't pass up the opportunity to see this extraordinary man, his musicians and his backup singers - it is well worth the cost.
Others have commented on the quality of the other performers, and I can't really add much here, other than to echo those sentiments - they are all world class. A few of them probably deserve special mention, though. Sharon Robinson's vocals on a couple of songs she co-wrote - "In My Secret Life" and "Boogie Street" - are among the concert highlights. And the Webb Sisters' version of "If It Be Your Will" is nothing short of breathtaking. Javier Mas does some sensational work on various forms of the acoustic guitar.
Most likely, everyone reading this is already a Leonard Cohen fan (disciple?), so remarks about his brilliance and the impact his work has on people probably all go without saying. Instead, I will just say that all of that shines through in this DVD, and every Leonard Cohen fan should have a copy.
Some reviews here mention disappointment with the sound, but our experience has been entirely positive. We did find that some adjustments to our system settings were necessary in order to get the most of out of it, but once we did that, it was just like being back at the Dodge Theater on April 5."