Archive for the 'Leonard Cohen' Category

The Ledge’s top 10 gigs of 2008

  1. Leonard Cohen @ Opera House, Manchester, 18th June
  2. Bon Iver @ Manchester Academy 2, 15th September
  3. Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds @ Manchester Apollo, 24th November
  4. R.E.M. @ T In The Park / Lancashire County Cricket Ground, 13th July / 24th August
  5. The National @ ATP, Minehead, 17th May
  6. Stereolab @ Club Academy, Manchester, 17th December
  7. Eels @ Bridgewater Hall, 27th February
  8. The B-52s @ Manchester Academy, 22nd July
  9. Silver Jews @ Dancehouse Theatre, Manchester, 27th May
  10. My Morning Jacket @ Manchester Academy 2, 27th June
Posted by The Ledge on 23rd December 2008 at 5:49 pm | comments (3)
File under atp,bon iver,eels,Leonard Cohen,Lists,manchester gigs,my morning jacket,R.E.M.,stereolab,the b-52's,the national.

The Indie Cred November Gig Run-Down

Right, I know we’ve gone quiet here over the last month. You’ll have to excuse us a bit. Our relatives over the pond have had some rather distressing things going on so we’ve been away for a bit and focused on other stuff since we returned. We have, however, been to a few really great gigs recently which have proved far more than a welcome distraction from things.

We enjoyed Fleet Foxes at the Academy 2 on November 9th, although we were rather jetlagged so we stood right at the back and heard more than we saw. The harmonies sounded fabulous as always. We were back down at Club Academy on the 18th to see Low play their Christmas gig. The first half of the set was mesmerising and the second half – all Christmas carols – was surprisingly good. They were accompanied by the opening band (who were pretty good too) and it was quite a celebration – especially for a Low gig.

For a complete change of pace we went to see Fucked Up at the Roadhouse and their ear-splitting hardcore and jovial attitude was intense and highly enjoyable. They’re so much more than just a noisy hardore band. Their opening act was great as well, although I didn’t catch their name – they sounded like all the best bits of Guided By Voices, Dinosaur Jr., Husker Du and the Pixies.

Tuesday the 24th of November was Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds night down at the Apollo. Nick Cave is many things but boring is never one of them. The band were on fine form and delivered an angry, noisy set with, well, many of my favourites. I enjoy “God is in the House” more every time I see it live and “Red Right Hand” and “Stagger Lee” were spectacular as well. “I Call Upon the Author” was a welcome new addition, even if he did truncate it a bit. Opener Joe Gideon and the Shark were quite a revelation. Forget the fact that they had some great Fall-inspired tunes, the Shark was great to watch on stage.

We followed up Nick Cave with Frightened Rabbit at Moho Live. The less said about this one the better. I was exhausted and falling asleep on my feet as they didn’t go on stage til midnight and the sound was awful. Pity because they’re a great band and I’m pretty sure that The Midnight Organ Fight will be in The Ledge’s top 10 albums of 2008, I haven’t worked mine out yet – it could make that list too.

Sunday, November 30th saw us down at the Manchester Evening News Arena for Leonard Cohen. While it wasn’t as good a gig as the one we saw at The Opera House over the summer, it was still fabulous and he’s finally stopped introducing the band every 3 minutes. “Famous Blue Raincoat,” “So Long Marianne” and “Tower of Song” were divine and listening to him perform “Hallelujah” with so much heart makes me wonder how Simon Cowell dare defile it by forcing his new pop muppet to cover it in time for Christmas.

On 4th December we were back at the Roadhouse for A Place to Bury Strangers, Ten Kens and Lowline. We were only really familiar with Ten Kens. Lowline were worse than expected sounding at times like Oasis covering Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and at other times like Black Rebel Motorcycle Club covering Oasis. Mostly they were non-descript and extremely boring. Ten Kens have put out a great album recently and I was really looking forward to them so I was bitterly disappointed to find that the muddy, murky sound in the Roadhouse really ruined any chance we had of enjoying their performance. They were trying hard in front of a crowd that were disinterested (except for one guy punching the air in the front row – you know who you are and you know we know who you are, even if you didn’t notice us on the night and we were being anti-social). They have what can only be described as a very full sound, there’s few gaps, and the distortion caused by the volume being too high and the mix being all wrong meant it just sounded a mess and it was hard to tell which song was which. We were exhausted and grumpy and left, not bothering to watch A Place to Bury Strangers.

Saturday 6th December was the welcome return of The Wedding Present who always deliver a good show. I quite like their newest album, although The Ledge is underwhelmed by it, but we both had fun jumping about to some classics and to some new tracks. Plus they finally did a Cinerama song off their first album – which is my favourite Cinerama album. The opening band, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart were charming enough that we bought their album. On the night they sounded like the perfect accompaniment to The Wedding Present’s jangly guitars. On record they’re more like Belle & Sebastian gone C86. Either way is not a bad way to be.

This week, on 10th December we’ve been over to the Academy 1 to see The Hold Steady, who were on fine form yet again with a brilliant set – far better than the gig they did at the Academy 2 earlier in the year, in fact. Pity the ever-growing crowd is also growing ever less agreeable – 2 days later and I still have bruised ribs from the couple who trampled and physically removed a 7 stone girl from beside me and tried to do the same to me. However, the band were faultless and new tracks such as “One for the Cutters” and “Magazines” slot in well next to old classics like “Positive Jam” and “Charlemagne in Sweatpants.”

Then last night , 11th December, I drove over the Pennines to see James at the Leeds Academy (formerly the Town & Country) deliver a rather unusual but highly enjoyable set. It was great to hear “Stutter” dragged out from the depths of the back catalogue and I’m still surprised by how much I love their new material.

So, that’s us mostly caught up. We will be producing some top 10 lists before the end of the month and hopefully back to business as usual sometime in January. The Ledge might even force himself to review the Stereolab gig he’s going to see next week. Maybe.

Gig Review: Leonard Cohen, Opera House, Manchester, 18th June 2008

This was undoubtedly our most anticipated gig of the year, not just because tickets cost a whopping £80 but also because this was our first and probably last chance to see one of the few musicians we would both call a “living legend” before he finally retires for good. From the reception that Leonard Cohen got when he bound onto the stage, it was clear that everyone else in the audience, from grandmothers to grandkids, were looking forward to it just as much, as, it seems, was Cohen himself, who looked genuinely humbled by the applause and cheers.

Our main concern for the evening was the condiditon of Cohen’s voice. On his last album, Dear Heather, it sounded shot, with most songs either spoken word or his vocals drowned out by the backing vocals. With the first line of “Dance Me To The End Of Love” our worries were assuaged, his careworn voice sounding impossibly deep and rich, and satisfyingly high in the mix.

Much of the set came from his ’80s and ’90s output, with I’m Your Man and The Future particularly well represented, the latter’s title track being an early highlight. His nine-strong backing band were all musicians of the highest quality although the arrangements erred on the side of sophisticated lounge jazz. Cohen was understandably proud of his charges and you might be forgiven for thinking that Alzheimers had set in such was the frequency with which he name-checked them. The slightest fart from Dino Soldo’s saxophone would bring on an introduction and the obligatory applause from the audience. Despite the presence of more than one too many sax solos, the band did a fine job, playing with great restraint, solos notwithstanding, and allowing Cohen to remain the centre of attention throughout. Of particular note was Javier Mas’ masterful playing all manner of acoustic stringed instruments of varying shapes and sizes.

Older songs from Cohen’s ’60s and ’70s heyday were rearranged sympathetically to retain much of their original magic. “Bird On A Wire” and “Who By Fire” were tender treats early in the set while “Suzanne” and “Sisters Of Mercy” were very close to their sparse originals with Cohen picking out melodies on his acoustic guitar, albeit with less certainty than he did forty years ago. Less successful was the arrangement for “Hey That’s No Way To Say Goodbye” which was rather heavy-handed for my liking but there was a storming version of “So Long Marianne” to make up for it.

The undisputed highlight of the evening was “Hallelujah” which saw Cohen reclaim the song for himself from the million or so cover versions out there. The superb backing vocals from long-time collaborator Sharon Robertson and the Webb Sisters, Hattie and Charley, lifted the song to stratospheric heights and prompted a prolonged standing ovation from the audience at the song’s conclusion.

Cohen himself was a delight throughout, joking with the crowd that the last time he toured he was 60-years-old, “a kid with a crazy dream”. There were wry smiles at the recital of some of the more poignant lyrics: “I was born with the gift of a golden voice” from “Tower Of Song”, played with just Cohen on synthesizer (complete with one-finger solo) and the three backing singers, brought cheers from the crowd and a self-deprecating shake of the head from the man himself – who’s he trying to kid? The cries that greeted “If you want a doctor, I’ll examine every inch of you” from “I’m Your Man” suggested that there plenty of other septuagenarians in the room who did indeed require a doctor.

Only in the encores did things begin to flag with the band introductions becoming a little tiresome during “Closing Time” and “I Tried To Leave You”. The version of “If It Be Your Will” played and sung by the Webb Sisters should really have been played during the main set, if at all, instead of the encore when the audience was crossing their fingers for the likes of “Joan Of Arc” and “Take This Longing”. Despite this we still wanted the performance to go on and on but the fourth encore, a beautiful rendition of “Famous Blue Raincoat”, was as good a place as any for Cohen to call it a night, signing off with “Sincerely, L. Cohen” before the band piped up with a brief, a capella “Wither Thou Goest?” to end a perfect evening. Gig Of The Year. So far.

Video: Gypsy Wife by Leonard Cohen, from the gig

Leonard Cohen – Hallelujah

Leonard Cohen – Tower Of Song

Posted by The Ledge on 23rd June 2008 at 8:08 pm | comments (64)
File under Gig Reviews,Leonard Cohen,mp3,opera house,Reviews.

Video: Leonard Cohen Live at Manchester Opera House, 18th June 2008

We’ve just returned from watching Leonard Cohen put in a breathtaking live set. He can still sing and he’s utterly and completely charming and we were totally mesmerised. We’ll have a full live review up later in the week when we have some time to breathe, but in the meantime, here’s a video of him performing “Everybody Knows” taken from the balcony earlier tonight.

Posted by JustHipper on 18th June 2008 at 11:54 pm | comments (17)
File under Leonard Cohen,video,youtube.