The Best Of The 2008-2010 Leonard Cohen World Tour
It’s been 18 months since Leonard Cohen last performed in concert, and it’s less than six weeks until the 2012 Leonard Cohen Old Ideas World Tour begins – the perfect time to feast on the best performances of the 2008-2010 Leonard Cohen World Tour
Leonard Cohen Transcendent In Sligo
Throughout the 2008-2010 World Tour, Leonard Cohen and his troupe reliably performed great concerts throughout North America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. In Ireland, however, Leonard Cohen offered something more along the lines of a religious experience.
That was true in 2008 and 20091 at rather ordinary or even sub-par venues; a transcendent event was inevitable when Leonard Cohen performed on the grounds of the legendary Lissadell House in Sligo, Ireland, where Yeats stayed when he visited the Gore-Booth sisters. Cohen, you see, has long been an ardent admirer of Yeats – the foremost poet in a land of poets.
That vertex of artistry and culture has generated similarly poetic responses. Consider the opening of Patrick Comerford’s description of the Lissadell House concert at A night of poetry and song with Leonard Cohen in Lissadell:
There was a Mediterranean atmosphere at Lissadell House last night. Although the rain was eventually coming down in buckets, and the grounds became a mud bath, that took nothing away from the atmosphere, or from the attitude of the 10,000 people who had come to hear Leonard Cohen in concert.
It was a night of poetry and music beneath the slopes of Ben Bulben and on the shores of the Atlantic, and it lasted until midnight.
Later in his essay, Comerford,2 addresses the crux of Cohen’s performance:
But first and foremost, Leonard Cohen is a poet, and a deeply spiritual poet. And all poets, writers and journalists should be humbled and be prepared to be brought to silence by the words of his poem, If it be your will.
Writing in The Independent in May, Barry Egan observed
The last time he [Leonard Cohen] played in Dublin, John Reynolds gave him a present of a signed book by William Butler Yeats. The seed was obviously planted because Reynolds is bringing Cohen to Yeats country in Lissadell House in Sligo. Recalling his youth in Sligo, WB wrote of the times when he “wandered by the sands of Lissadell”: ‘Many a time I think to seek/One or the other out and speak/Of that old Georgian mansion, mix/Pictures of the mind, recall/ That table and the talk of youth,/Two girls in silk kimonos, both/Beautiful, one a gazelle . . .’
If the show at Lissadell House is anything like Cohen’s shows at Royal Hospital Kilmainham in 2008, it will be a visionary experience. Over three nights, the Canuck poet and soothsayer breathed new life and meaning into the songs that we knew so well — ‘Suzanne’, ‘So Long, Marianne’, ‘The Future’ and ‘First We Take Manhattan’ among them – turning them into secular prayers for the Noughties.
Cohen himself has called his songs, “muffled prayers,” adding that “it’s difficult to do the commentary on the prayer. I’m not a Talmudist, I’m more the little Jew who wrote the Bible,” [a reference to a line in 'The Future'] “I feel it doesn’t serve the enterprise to really examine it from outside the moment.”
Leonard Cohen – Yeats Quote & Anthem
Lissadell House – July 31, 2010
Leonard Cohen quotes the opening lines from “In Memory Of Eva Gore-Booth And Con Markiewicz” by William Butler Yeats -
The light of evening, Lissadell,
Great windows open to the south,
Two girls in silk kimonos, both
Beautiful, one a gazelle.
- and then performs “Anthem”
Leonard Cohen – Yeats Quote & Anthem (Sligo – 7/31/2010)
Video from albertnoonan
Credit Due Department: The photo of the concert was, as indicated by the caption, taken by Patrick Comerford. The sign atop this post was a standard poster for the Sligo concerts which I edited to add Yeats to the billing. The other graphics were found at Lissadell Online.