Saturday, January 24

Hallelujah! Leonard Cohen in Auckland

We’ve just returned from Auckland. It was raining when we left, so much so that Air New Zealand provided large black umbrellas to keep passengers dry crossing the tarmac with ground staff to ferry the brollies back. It’s been raining ever since we got back but Auckland was fine. It was fine, it was fine, it was fine … for a while.
We were there for the Leonard Cohen concert at the Vector Arena along with over 12,000 other people. Grey-haired heads predominated, hardly surprising as many of the audience must have been fans since Cohen first started in the late sixties or early seventies.
The surprising thing was the number of younger people present. They would have reduced the average age of the audience to about 60.
Cohen’s 74 now and last did a concert tour fifteen years ago. This one was necessary because his accountant (make that former accountant) cheated him out of $5 million. We were all there to contribute to his new pension fund.
It was amazing, fantastic, awesome … you just run out of superlatives to describe the event.
The stage is at one end of the arena with two levels of tiered seating around the other three sides plus rows of floor seating. Two large screens flanked the stage and an area towards the rear of the floor housed a video mixing/editing set up.
The sound was superb, the lighting great and the screens meant you could see close up views of all the performers.
Leonard Cohen came bouncing onto the stage to a standing ovation and finally departed some three hours later after three encores and several more standing ovations. Mind you, the seats at the arena aren’t all that comfortable and, after a while, standing seemed like a good option.
He sang old familiar songs, some with new arrangements, and the audience cheered and applauded as they recognised each one. He sang, played guitar, skipped, kneeled and squatted – for seventy-four-years-old his knees are in great condition!

The band and backing singers, the Unified Heart Touring Company, were all introduced at one time or another and all performed solos. It was a pleasure to hear them; these are highly skilled musicians in their own right. Cohen came across as a gentleman and it wasn’t just the fedora and suit.
Quite a few clips of the concert have appeared on YouTube but most of them were taken using cell phones, you could see small bright squares of light bobbing about all over the arena – dreadful quality sound and vision.
Here’s one reasonable clip taken from close to the stage on the left hand side.

I’m hoping that somebody will put out an official DVD. It shouldn’t take long to produce because what was being shown on the screens at the concert was really very good. I’d buy a copy and so would a large number of those in the audience. It would all help to increase Cohen’s pension fund.