Leonard Cohen Contemplates Love, Death, and Other Old Ideas in Miami, March 20

Photo by Marta Xochilt Perez
Leonard Cohen's Old Ideas Tour
James L. Knight Center, Miami
Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Now 78, Leonard Cohen almost certainly wouldn't be pounding the tour trail, if his finances were still flush.

Circa 2004, though, fate intervened. (Or rather, a personal manager did, ripping him off to the tune of approximately $9 million over a period of years.)

And that's essentially how the Canadian Jewish Buddhist bard in a suit was forced to work the tour circuit on a full-time basis again.

See also:
-Review: Leonard Cohen at BankAtlantic Center, 2009
-Leonard Cohen Announces Old Ideas Tour 2013 Dates
-How Leonard Cohen's 'Hallelujah' Went From Obscurity to Ubiquity
-Leonard Cohen at James L. Knight Center: The 25-Photo Slideshow

Photo by Marta Xochilt Perez

Of course, Cohen, a formerly reclusive figure, might have preferred to spend his unknown number of remaining years on this strange spinning rock, sitting in peace atop a California mountain with loved ones, friends, and his own flawed self while contemplating love, death, and other Old Ideas.

But he also relishes the stage life, playing up his puckish artistic persona as a poet, prophet, and pervert for the benefit of fanatics, fellow fighters, and the gods -- not to mention himself.

Photo by Marta Xochilt Perez

So, last night in Miami at about a quarter-hour past the advertised "8 p.m. sharp show time," the theater went dark. And still. And silent. And then it erupted into a standing ovation as Cohen jogged out, clad in his signature late-life uniform of gray dress shirt, black tie, black suit, and black fedora.

He briefly tipped his head in thanks, with a wide, thin-lipped smile shining through the shadow beneath the brim of his hat. He grabbed the microphone in his right hand while curling its cord into a loop with the other. And he descended to his knees, singing, "Dance Me to the End of Love," in his infamously seductive, gravelly croon, as if it were a reverently filthy prayer.

Photo by Marta Xochilt Perez
Cohen bowing before string virtuoso Javier Mas.

All night, as he sang, Cohen created a ritual of genuflecting in praise of his bandmates.

He bowed before the string virtuoso Javier Mas. He was humbled by Neil Larsen, "the foremost exponent of the Hammond B3." He kneeled in honor of "our timekeeper" and drummer Rafael Gayol; "the professor" and guitarist Mitch Watkins; the master violinist Alexadriu Bublitchi; "the sublime" singing Webb sisters; "our musical director and survivor of these many campaigns" Roscoe Beck; and finally, his lovely longtime collaborator and co-writer, Sharon Robinson.

But just as often, Leonard sat crouched in the spotlight, staring off into the beyond, trying to decipher the darkness, attempting to channel its mysteries.

Photo by Marta Xochilt Perez

"We were here a few years ago," Cohen uttered in his distinct careful way, addressing the theater and referring to the Miami stop of his two-year 2008-09 world tour, which had been his first in over a decade and a half.

"And maybe we'll be here a few years hence. One never knows for sure," he joked, darkly. "But tonight, we'll give you everything we've got.

"Thank you, friends, for the warm welcome."

Photo by Marta Xochilt Perez

He glimpsed "The Future," singing a string of slightly altered lyrics, "There'll be phantoms/There'll be fires on the road/And the white girls dancing," as the Webb Sisters (but not the darker-skinned Ms. Robinson) swung their arms in a pantomime of the Mashed Potato.

He tunefully recited "Bird on the Wire" and smirkingly conceded "Everybody Knows" before removing his hat to admire a four-minute flamenco-tinged guitar interlude from Mr. Mas.

He interrogated the universe, asking "Who by Fire," while tenderly plucking at the strings of a black, full-bodied acoustic as his own enormous, double shadow loomingly shuffled across pleated 100-foot curtains.

Location Info


James L. Knight Center

400 SE Second Ave., Miami, FL

Category: Music

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Your reporting is inaccurate.

As an LC fan and one who has learned as much as I can about him I can assure you that he is not touring because he needs the money.  He's long ago made back much more than was stolen from him. 

You are too cynical.  Leonard is touring because he loves touring.

Secondly he was not wearing a tie - take another look.

I was there and the concert was as close to a religious experience as I've ever seen.  It was an honor to see Leonard perform, one of the most memorable experiences of my life.

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