Sunday, April 19, 2009

Leonard Cohen at Nokia / Bruce Springsteen in L.A.

I'm running way behind again these days. Last weekend we went to the Nokia theater to see Leonard Cohen. It was my first time and I had to put up with the jokes from friends who thought the ticket price was a bit high for an artist in their 70's, who can't really sing well. But Saturday night we were treated to an amazing event, watching this 75 year old move around the stage like he was in his 30s, a band that is as good as they get, and overall having a wonderful time. I actually believe LC's voice has gotten better with age, dropping to a lower, richer level and then letting the background singers add the highlights. Every member of the band, from the Spanish guitar player to the background singing Web sisters nailed their parts. Now you could say that they have been pretty much doing the same show for over 100 shows so they should be good at what they do. And that may be true, but it is still impressive to watch. And Leonard... Leonard had the women swooning. With his rich and sensual lyrics, women were either screaming out or quietly moaning in their seats. It was an impressive performance by one of Canada's best poetic songwriters. And even more impressive watching him skip off of stage after each encore. Yes, you heard right. If you missed the show though, don't worry, you can buy the CD or DVD, "Live in London" and get almost the exact same show. 

At the exact opposite end of the "exact same show" performance spectrum is Bruce Springsteen, who put on 2 shows at the Los Angeles Sports Arena this week. Bruce changed 11 songs on the second night truly giving his fans 2 very different shows. Opening night was part of the standard set list for this tour supporting "Working On A Dream". The focus of the shows is "Hard Times" along with hope and dreams for the future. Bruce has lots of music to help focus on the hard times and the new CD brought the dreams aspect into the show. "Seeds" has been pulled out for this tour to help us hear the feeling of despair that so many are going through these days. Driving home his point during the encore, Bruce performs "Hard Times", a Stephen Foster song from the middle 1800's. The set list continues to be from all over his career and from the second leg of his last tour he has added a request section where he pulls signs from the audience. We got a wonderful treat on Wednesday as he pulled "Raise Your Hand" from a fan. He liked it so much, he added it to the set on night 2. The second night was one of those fun shows. It was obvious from the second song, that he wasn't interested in playing the typical set. There were at least a few audibles called during the night, bringing us lots of interesting songs. During the request section, he said something like, "So you want to stump the band", and proceeded to perform "Proud Mary". It was a great WTF moment for those of us who have learned to expect anything and yet are constantly surprised by his choices. 

For night number two I was in the lottery again for the pit and although I didn't win, I did get in the pit and was about 4 or 5 people from the stage on Little Steven's side. At one point, Bruce came over near us and laid down on several of my friends; most of whom are now sick (Bruce was obviously pretty sick both nights and his voice had gotten pretty raspy by night 2). As I spend more time chatting with Bruce fans, I find myself running into more and more people (you know who you are) I know. I now find myself looking over my shoulder more when I hear my name at the shows; which, as you can guess, is pretty much non-stop because of the shared name. :-) 

Okay, I'm off to L.A. to see the Danny Federici benefit. The odds are now very much against Bruce showing up, but we'll see who else decides to drop by. If nothing else, seeing Tom Morello play some guitar will make the $20 tickets worth every penny. 

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