Leonard Cohen: Live in London (CD / DVD)

While I would normally write two distinct reviews for the new Leonard Cohen release, I find that the full experience of Cohen’s performance is essential to understand the context behind each and every inclusion on each of these two releases. Each song performed by Cohen during this 2008 concert at the O2 Arena should further solidify eir place among the pantheon of the best performers of all time: the recording itself is so chock-full of these hits that listeners will come back to this release countless times. Furthermore, the production values that are present in the recording of this concert are simply stellar: the audio is crisp, clear as day while the video footage of Cohen’s performance is easily television-levels of quality.

The style of filming allows every nuance and note to be shown properly to viewers, without trading in confusing or otherwise inappropriate shots. Of particular note during this performance would be Cohen’s “Hallelujah”: already one of my favorite songs, the haunting power of Cohen’s vocals here blast past other versions of the track (eir own, as well as the Rufus Wainwright cover) to make for a simply astonishing track. However, a number of other tracks present during this concert challenge “Hallelujah” for superiority. Of the twenty-six tracks that ultimately comprise the concert, “Tower of Song” may just be the most impressive. Written eons ago, each lyric comes forth as contemporary as current as the latest headlines pulled from the paper. It is due to this that I really feel as if Cohen has matured and ripened over the course of eir career, performing at a peak level here.

This means that Cohen provides listeners (and viewers I would love to hear a more comprehensive set of live recordings from Cohen in the future; perhaps ey can do what bands like Pearl Jam, Phish, and the Grateful Dead have done and release multiple recordings every year. What I do know is that “Live in London” is an immersive experience, one in which listeners will feel as if they were in the crowd, hanging off Cohen’s every word. Pick up this release at your first opportunity.

Rating: 8.4/10

Leonard Cohen: Live in London (CD / DVD) / 2009 Sony / http://www.sonymusic.com / http://www.leonardcohen.com

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