The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
“Sometimes I stumble out of bed at night, and I stand before the mirror,” Leonard Cohen confessed to a packed house at the Fox Theater on Monday, November 26th. “I look at myself and say, ‘Leonard, lighten up.’”
Though the 78-year-old Canadian singer-songwriter, musician, and Prince of Asturias Award-winning writer is known for his dark subject matter, the mood was anything but heavy throughout the more-than-two-hour performance. The crowd featured couples of all ages, including mother-daughter duos and Cohen fans that may have missed his 2008-2010 world tour. Though the opportunity to see any musician play live has a fleeting quality, that chance perhaps seems slimmer when the performer in question is a man pushing 80, and prior to 2008, Cohen had not toured in 15 years.
Cohen, however, shows few signs of slowing down, executing his signature kneel numerous times throughout the performance (and more impressively, standing back up again unassisted) and offering songs and poems in a voice seemingly unchanged by time. The astounding audio is a credit to the Fox Theater’s acoustics, as well as the crack Canadian audio and stage team, readily identifiable by the black fedora that comprises Cohen’s stage show uniform.
Indeed, everyone who graced the stage with Cohen was in top form, the band line-up mirroring that of the 2008 world tour, with the addition of Moldovan violinist Alexandru Bublitchi. Back-up vocals were provided by Cohen’s longtime collaborator Sharon Robinson, as well as Charlie and Hattie Webb, sisters from England. Outstanding performances were turned in all around, from Roscoe Beck on bass, Neil Larsen on keyboard and Bob Metzger on guitar.
As for Cohen, he appears to have no immediate plans to quit touring. In fact, he already has big plans for his inaugural tour as an octogenarian: “Once I’m 80, I’m going to take up smoking again.”