I know, I know, I just saw him in Chicago, I can’t afford it, etc. etc,. I don’t care. I don’t regret this at all; but if I hadn’t gone I would definitely be regretting it. It’s only a five hour drive, and I didn’t have to arrange my work schedule (although I was slightly late, which made the parking situation even more confusing).
So, here he is:
It was a more relaxed concert than in Chicago. Even though the Chicago venue was slightly smaller, the 20’s era Egyptian-style Fox Theater with 5,060 seats as opposed to Rosemont’s 4000 some seats, the St; Louis concert was a more intimate experience. The out-of-control shouting element that showed up at Chicago was missing here, as was the foreign language group. In Chicago I seem to have been surrounded by non-English speakers–Polish and I don’t know what other languages. Having once heard a George Wasouf concert at the two thousand year old Jerash Roman theater, I can appreciate the difficulty in not understanding the language. Jordanians love Wasouf for his lyrics and the feeling they evoke. I could only love the sound, the magnificent Jordanian evening under the stars, and the obvious energy of the crown as they sang along. But with Cohen it’s not only what he says, it’s how he says it.
Yes, he did “the darkness”, the yet unnamed new blues tune. So nice.
The house lights kept going on at annoying times. Like during standing ovations. Or just when a few people stood up. Or in the middle of the concert when the stage lights went off completely and the house lights went on briefly before decorum was restored. If they were trying to tell people when to applaud, or when to stand, I don’t like that at all. That should be part of the spontaneous interaction between the performer and the fans, not scripted.
Hallelujah was even better than Chicago. Even though this is probably my all-time favorite Cohen number, if it’s possible to pick a favorite, the whiny sound of the gospel style organ has always irritated me. I don’t know why. Gospel is an acquired taste, and I’m less annoyed by it than some, but I’m used to the full sound of a pipe organ. The difference in sound is like the difference between hearing Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus or Bach’s Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring on a pipe organ, or a smarmy, bible-thumping, shouter type TV preacher exhorting “dig deep brothers and sisters” as the collection plate is passed and the organ swells. Leonard is more on the Handel end of the metaphysical spectrum. The sound of the organ was subtly different at the St. Louis concert, darker maybe, and much better, but I don’t think it’s quite there yet.
One of the recitations, the one about the soldier behind the lines, they also did partly in French. (I’ll google the exact name of it later, when I’m not on the road.) At the end when Leonard gave the names of the crew there were a few French sounding names; this is certainly the area of Illinois with some history of French influence.
Surprisingly, a few photos turned out, although the ones that didn’t are still a tantalizing reminder of the real-life experience. I’ll post more photos when I can.