The other night we attended the Leonard Cohen concert at the TSB Arena in Wellington, New Zealand.
I went along more because my partner really enjoys his music. If she hadn’t been going I would probably have stayed home and missed what was a rich, layered, exquisitely textured couple of hours.
Bic Runga opened with a set lasting around 20 minutes. I enjoy her music, and her performance was thoroughly enjoyable.
Cohen and co
After a short intermission Leonard Cohen and his ensemble of musicians appeared. There were about 10 musicians in total, and as the performance went on it was very clear it wasn’t Cohen and a backing group, but Cohen as leader of a group of equals.
This movie is from Cohen’s Auckland 2010 concert, and includes the beautiful solo by Javier Mas on what I presume is the 12-string guitar.
Apart from the performers live on stage there were a couple of large screens to either side showing the performance from several camera angles. In my photo above one screen is showing the logo from the tour: two intertwined hearts.
Clearly the entire show was carefully scripted. The lighting picked up feelings and pointed our attention. The video screens showed careful shots, closeups on individuals or juxtapositions of multiple angles. The performance itself was flawless and seamless.
Most of the instruments were pretty standard: various drums, guitars, keyboards, a double bass. But over on the right as I looked at the stage were a couple of performers who played unusual instruments.
One performer was Javier Mas, playing strings I couldn’t recognise. Another performer, Dino Soldo, played sax, and various wind instruments I’d never seen or heard before. I suspect one might have been an electric oboe, if such a thing exists.
Those two were my favourite performers because I was so intrigued by the instruments and their unusual sounds.
The whole was rich and textured.
At one point each performer had a brief solo. It was immediately obvious that any one of them could be a solo performer in their own right.
As they made music together each contributed their own flavour to the larger work, creating something much more than just the sum of its parts.
If you’ve ever dined at a fine restaurant, not just a good one, but one where the chefs excel, then you’ll know what I mean.
The Cohen concert was like one of those meals where each course is a small portion of exquisitely prepared food. You can taste each separate flavour, but brilliantly combined, the whole item carries its own subtlety and delight. You leave feeling not full, but rather totally satisfied.
I didn’t leave the Cohen concert bubbling with excitement. Instead I felt satisfied, as though I’d dined well. It’s the satisfaction of nourishment, rather than the fullness of empty popcorn.