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 s... more »et 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.« less
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 set 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.
Ann B. from SILVER SPRING, MD Reviewed on 1/2/2010...
Very nice recording - his voice is showing it's age but the singing ans accompaniment is great.
A wonderful concert presentation with excellent sound qualit
Chris Zabel | 03/31/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Leonard Cohen is still a magnificent performer, even at 73-years old, and this concert captures that fact wonderfully. This two-disc cd set was recorded live at the concert in London at the O2 Arena on July 17th, 2008. Sony has done a marvelous job in putting this package together. Both cds are filled to maximum capacity and Amazon's tracklisting above is correct. There are several nice photographs of the event in the included booklet with liner notes by John Aizlewood.
The performance is spectacular on this set and very typical of the level of quality the current world tour has been regularly achieving at various venues. The backing singers and band members are all in top form and Leonard himself sounds in good voice. Sharon Robinson and the Webb sisters provide background vocals, while Roscoe Beck, Neil Larsen, Javier Mas, Bob Metzger, Dino Soldo, and Rafael Bernando Gayol comprise the band. Leonard throws out some light banter at times and probably is too gracious in the regular and profuse compliments he gives out to his supporting players.
On a technical level the recording is very good and sounds better than most live cds. The cds are mastered by Bob Ludwig, a well-known and respected mastering engineer. He did a fine job here as the music shows no signs of overcompression or clipping. The audience is well-behaved and generally can not be heard during the songs, though vigorous applause greets each song and Leonard's sly jokes.
The set captures the live magic of Leonard Cohen's current tour with many fine performances. While not every song on here is the definitive live version, many are great like "Tower Of Song" and "Who By Fire". Anyone with a marginal interest in the music of Leonard Cohen needs to pick up this cd set. It is essential in my estimation as a document of Leonard Cohen's current live performances. Hopefully more dates from this tour will be officially released."
A joyous, triumphant return of Leonard Cohen to live perform
Robert Moore | Chicago, IL USA | 04/12/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Many people are aware that this album was made as part of the attempt to repair Leonard Cohen's seriously damaged finances. After living in a Buddhist monastery for several years Cohen discovered that his business manager had embezzled most of his money. Cohen reluctantly went back on the road over a decade after he imagined that he had left his musical career behind him. One might therefore not be surprised if there were some signs of reluctance or regret hanging about this performance. There is not. In fact, this is one of the most delightful live performances I've heard in a while. Perhaps it is the result of his time in the monastery, but Cohen seems genuinely at ease and happy performing. Maybe it is like the old saying that if life gives you lemons, make lemonade. From beginning to end Cohen gives the impression that there is nowhere he would rather be than before these friends in London and that performing for them is one of the greatest honors that has come his way. So far from despair or regret, the concert radiates a sense of joy.
Cohen's sense of humor and deep graciousness permeates every number. The spoken intros to his songs and the verbal asides are among the highlights of the album. Not that the music isn't exceptionally fine. Although 73 at the time of the performance, Cohen is in very fine voice. His voice has deepened greatly over the years. If you listen to THE SONGS OF LEONARD COHEN, released in 1968, and then to this recording, the change in his voice is almost shocking. He is backed by a large and crack group of players. As always he has a talented group of women backing him, in this case his sometimes writing partner Sharon Robinson and the Webb Sisters.
The paradox with Leonard Cohen is that while he has not been a very prolific songwriter, he has produced as many as truly great songs over the past forty years as anyone this side of Bob Dylan. I usually recommend to friend interested in Cohen getting his first album, THE SONGS OF LEONARD COHEN, and the flawed but still excellent THE ESSENTIAL LEONARD COHEN (flawed because too much emphasis is placed on Cohen's later career, to the neglect of his early songs). And most of his albums, even the very good ones, have several weak songs. This live album is actually an excellent place for someone coming to Cohen for the first time to experience his music, though like with THE ESSENTIAL, his earlier songs are neglected for his later.
Any live concert is going to leave aside some of any Cohen fan's favorites, and I'm no exception. I regretted the absence of "The Stranger Song" and the extraordinary "Famous Blue Raincoat," not to mention some personal favorites like "Joan of Arc." But unfortunately there is no single album that collects all of Cohen's best songs. We very much need a three-CD box set that does this (there was a foreign box set that came close, but it is no longer available).
All in all, this is one of the most delightful albums that I have listened to in a long time and I enthusiastically recommend it to both longtime fans of Leonard Cohen as well as newcomers who would like to get to know better the music of one of the finest songwriters of our time. "
The best ever....
Marina C. Watteck | St. Poelten, Austria | 04/01/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The year 2008 goes into my personal history, as the year I saw Leonard Cohen live in Vienna. What a performance! This "new" old Cohen is full of spirit, vivacious and with a twinkle in the eye. The music has been completely re-arranged and sounds better than ever. The way he interacted with the audience can only be described as lovely. Everybody was in awe of the great master. I highly recommend this CD which is a wonderful example of everything done right. All that's left to say is - I hope this was not the last recording of this wonderful man."
The Wizard of Word in the Tower of Song
Sven Eberlein | San Francisco, CA | 04/16/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I saw Leonard Cohen and his fantastic band at the exquisitely intimate Paramount Theater in Oakland, CA last night. I'm still buzzing with both giddiness and a deep feeling of grace for being invited to 3 1/2 hours of soul massage. Aside from a sublime sound created by a 9-piece ensemble of talented musicians who have mastered the art of filling in just enough to let the greatness of these songs shine right through, I can hardly put in words how nice it felt to be carried through this musical journey by the simple power of . . . words.
There are love songs, the kind we are force-fed ad nauseum in daily radio and television diets, mostly shallow, formulaic professions of "Oh baby, you broke my heart, and I either want you back or you can go to hell." Then there are Love Songs, the rare kind that strike a chord so deep that they make a connection between our individual human condition or predicament and the infinitely more expansive and universal mystery behind our collective suffering and joy. The latter, of course, is Mr. Cohen's kind, tickling your soul's G-spot with his poetic feather until you can take it no more and surrender to the sensation of tears and smiles running side by side.
Inviting you in, through, and beyond, is the essence of poetry, and words are the cosmic training wheels that take you there, wherever there is. The most powerful words, however, may be the ones that -- like a caring guardian -- slowly fade into the distance once you're cruising, leaving you to explore all on your own the magic realm from whence they came while still feeling safely connected to their familiar ring. If these words are imbued in a deep dark whisper of a voice and carried by a cloud of sweet and gentle music, then you may find yourself catching a blissful glimpse of creation's finest, right through that crack where the light shines in."
Excellend CD trace of a wonderful tour . . .
Jugurtha Harchaoui | NYC | 04/01/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The sound quality is very good, and Mr. Cohen did make sure he used the excellent Leanne Unger as mixer. My only regret is that those folks picked London as the show to record for the obligatory double CD. I think something grandiose like the O2 Arena might be an interesting venue for the DVD. But I remain convinced the CD would have even been better quality (sound, performance, intimacy, nuances, flamenco-guitar solos, etc.) had they picked a smaller theatre such as Paris' Olympia for instance. But Mr. Cohen and the suits over at Columbia are understandably in a rush to take advantage of the 2008-2009 tour's extraordinary momentum, and make money off of it. I don't blame them; it's tough out there, especially in light of Leonard's recent financial fiasco with his "friend" & "manager" Kelley Lynch. If I were an executive at Sony Music, I would release half a dozen double-CD package from the tour, like Pearl Jam and Tori Amos did not too long ago. Only means of capturing a tiny bit of the magic of such a remarkable tour."