Concert Review: Leonard Cohen at BankAtlantic Center, October 17

Categories: Concert Review
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Photo by Sayre Berman
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Leonard Cohen
Saturday, October 17, 2009
BankAtlantic Center, Sunrise


Better Than: Any singer you've ever heard before.

Why the hell Leonard Cohen appeared at BankAtlantic Center rather than, say, The Fillmore Gleason is anybody's guess. But if he had staged at a theater on the Beach instead of in an arena up in Broward, his show would've been even more remarkable than it was. That's not to say there's anything wrong with the BankAtlantic Center - Bruce Springsteen, AC/DC and Foo Fighters, to name but a few, all perfectly hit the hot spot, and it's a cinch Kiss will do likewise this Thursday. But like I said, it's an arena. And Leonard Cohen is no arena act.

Cohen does though happen to have a voice that could fill the Grand Canyon, even at a whisper, so he had no problem reaching the rafters here. Cohen also is one of the all-time great entertainers, though somewhat understated, so there was nothing to complain about on that end either. It's just that Cohen's music is best served up close and personal, just as it was written - and just as he sings it. So he being in a large venue, even one as well-appointed as BankAtlantic, does kind of take something away from the proceedings. Other than that though, the only thing taken away during Saturday night's concert was my breath.

But catching Leonard Cohen live, anywhere, could take away the breath of even the numbest among us. In fact, anybody with even an iota of feeling in their bones will gasp from the first moment his voice booms over, into, under and through the room. Imagine having sound not only tell the story of your life, but read everything about you, and you'll have some idea of its effect. Picture a merging of the deep of the blue sea and the high of the moon and you'll have some notion of its breadth.

Of course that voice of his wouldn't render half as heavenly is it weren't in the service of some of music's most celebrated songs, and there Cohen's got a lock on things. Then again if you had a catalog that included such classics as "Suzanne," "Bird on a Wire," "Hallelujah," "Everybody Knows" and "I'm Your Man," you'd have a lock on things too. Cohen performed each of the above, as well as "Dance Me to the End of Love" (the set opener), "Anthem" (a particular favorite), "In My Secret Life" (a track fit for Bryan Ferry) and "First We Take Manhattan" (one of several encores), among many others. And the master even took time out to recite the chilling "A Thousand Kisses Deep," a poignant reminder that his "Tower of Song" was built syllable by syllable.

Mostly though Cohen came and wowed us, with a grace and a charm few can fathom in this day and age of brash and bombast, and witnessing the event made for one unforgettable evening. There are few class acts in the world today, so any time one alights in our neck of the state it is cause for celebration. Yes, Leonard Cohen may have been better served had he staged at a smaller venue. But he was here. And for that we've no choice but to be utterly thankful.

Critic's Notebook

Personal Bias: I've been a fan of the man since my first New York City girl turned me on to him way back in the late '80s.

Random Detail: Cohen often knelt to the ground in order to better bring his songs up from his soul, and each kneeling had the feel of righteous supplication.

By the Way: If by chance you missed the show - or if you'd like to relive it - Cohen's Live in London pretty much covers all the same ground, albeit somewhat differently.


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