DVD/CD: “Leonard Cohen: Songs From the Road”

Leonard Cohen: Songs From The Road(Columbia/Legacy, 2010):

Today marks the 76th birthday of Canadian poet, novelist and songman Leonard Cohen.

His newest album – a DVD/CD package – was released last week, and its a sheer delight, featuring a dozen live performances from his 2008-2009 world tour.

There are songs both old and new – including such classics as “Suzanne,” “Bird on the Wire” and a rendition of “Hallelujah” filmed at the Coachella Music Festival that manages to reclaim the overdone gem from the hands of desperate “American Idol” contestants.

Best of all, however, are “Famous Blue Raincoat” (from London’s O2 Arena) and “Chelsea Hotel” (from Royal Albert Hall) that cut deep into Cohen’s poetry and understated performance.

There’s an innate intimacy to Leonard Cohen’s music. These are not just songs; they’re more like prayers, hymns or whispered confessions. And Cohen delivers them with a master’s touch that puts him in league with such great songmen as Charles Aznavour and Jacques Brel.

The performances clock in at about 70 minutes, and the DVD features a 20-minute bonus, “Backstage Sketch,” behind-the-scenes chats with Cohen’s bandmembers and crew, filmed by Leonard’s daughter, Lorca Cohen.

This set – with the same songs on both the DVD and CD – makes a perfect then-and-now companion piece to the DVD/CD set “Leonard Cohen: Live at the Isle of Wight 1970,” which Columbia/Legacy released last year.

(Related story: Video of Leonard Cohen with Sonny Rollins)

  1. Gordon says

    Hi Greg —

    Today, in fact, marks Leonard’s 76th birthday — born in Montreal, Sept 21, 1934.

    I was fortunate to see his current concert at several venues in 2009, and am looking forward to the latest CD/DVD set. The recent two-disc set, Live in London, based on this current tour, stands as a fine testament to what Leonard has accomplished — but I find it somewhat frustrating. Simply put, at the time of the London concerts (July 2008), the tour was only a handful of dates along, and Leonard’s singing voice was not yet up to snuff. Within a few months of those dates — as I image will be made evident by the new CD — Cohen’s range and vocal power improved dramatically; he was declaiming in a reasonably full voice, and no longer hesitated to go for the bigger notes. Impressive. In any event, it’s been a rich few years for Leonard Cohen admirers.



  2. Greg says

    Right you are, Gordon. My math skills have once again failed me. The correction has been made.

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