there’s music on clinton street all through the evening

Scribbled down on April 25th, 2009 by she
Posted in Uncategorized

Musicians and fans alike know there are concerts and then there are CONCERTS.

Some are fun times; others freak shows. If we’re lucky we’ll attend one or two concerts that become the stick we measure every future concert against. There’s always an artist, or two, that’s we’d pay anything to go see.

Older generations can look back upon artists and bands of the past we’ll never get to see in their original configuration and remember every moment. Elvis. The Beatles. Queen. Led Zepplin. Stan Rogers. Pink Floyd. Current generations can look to the Rolling Stones. Elton John. Bruce Springsteen. U2. B.B.King. Bob Dylan.

The ‘seminal’ artist or concert is different for everyone. Whatever floats your boat. That’s the way it should be.

I’ve loved watching B.B.King perform. I gushed over the great performance from LIVE and storytelling of Gordon Lightfoot. I had a ball watching Elton John in his element and gained a new respect for Rob Zombie at an Ozzy concert. I go see the Boys of St. James Gate at least once a year and sang along with Sarah McLachlan, Colin James, and Great Big Sea. But for me there has only been one artist whose music and lyrics came close to ecstacy. Leonard Cohen.

I’ve been a fan for over 20 years. Sure, others have been fans longer. But they’re likely not in their early 30s. Since the first time I heard him sing Famous Blue Raincoat and memorized all the words, he’s held the keys to my musical heart.

Tonight I finally saw him perform live. I’ve been home for a half hour and I think I’m still wearing an ear-to-ear grin.

It’s been close to 15 years since Leonard Cohen was last in Edmonton and I’m thrilled that I was able to listen to his voice while watching him waltz across the stage this evening. At 74 years young, you never know if or when he’ll be back this way again. He performed two fabulous sets, skipping off the stage at the end of each. He introduced the talented members of his back-up band twice and told amusing little stories with a dry delivery that had the audience chucking. He sang on bended knee and was a class act the entire night. His co-songwriter, Sharon, sang a complete song with a smokey voice and strong blues undertones in the second set. The fabulous Webb sisters (as he called them) performed a song in the third encore after Leonard’s spoken word first verse. He honoured each musician with a bow and removal of his iconic hat. At the end of the night the band gathered on the stage to sing goodnight (perhaps a hymn?) before he thanked all the crew members in his team and the local venue employees. To the very end he was the epitomy of a class act.

He returned to the stage four times after the concert ‘ended’ to give his fans more of what they wanted. Calling us ‘friends’ all evening, he regaled us with many old favourites in the encores – So Long Marianne, I’m Your Man, Sisters of Mercy, etc.

For me, the concert moment I’d been waiting for for the bulk of my life came in the first song of the third encore. With blue lights hilighting his face and iconic hat, Leonard sang Famous Blue Raincoat to a hushed and awed crowd. And I, quietly perched on the edge of my seat, sang along.

This was my seminal concert. The one that ‘wrote the book’ in my life’s musical history. All past and future concerts shall be measured against it. I hope to never forget a moment of it or how I still feel awed and energized now that it’s over.

Thank you Mr. Cohen. You’ve brightened so many lives with your talent. May you have many more years of song ahead of you.

I’ve told you mine. Now it’s your turn. What was your seminal concert?


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5 Responses to “there’s music on clinton street all through the evening”

  1. I’m glad you had fun at your concert. I was at the Toby Kieth concert in KAF.

  2. I went to see Gordon Lightfoot at Massey Hall with my boyfriend Dan in 1972, in the summer before we were married. Massey Hall is small and it seemed as though we were in an intimate cafe setting with Gordon mesmerizing the audience with his vocals and his ability to tell a story and at that time he could hold noted for an amazingly long time. Wonderful.

    The second best was when we went to the O’Keefe Centre now the Hummingbird Centre to see the National Ballet perform The Who’s “Tommy” with the Toronto Symphony orchestra.

  3. I’m so glad you had a great time last night. Sorry we weren’t able to go with you. I can actually feel the excitement you are feeling just through your words.

    Now as for your question. I’m not sure if I have been lucky enough to have my moment yet. There have been concerts I have enjoyed but none I can say I have felt like you felt like last night.

  4. Just for the record, the closing words the performers delivered “Whither thou goest, I will go” etc. are from the story of Ruth in the Old Testament of the Christian bible, probably following the King James version.

    It was a great performance from beginning to end.

    It’s only the second performance I’ve been to in what’s now Rexall Place; the other was Bob Dylan’s second last appearance there. This was better.

  5. Sounds awesome :)

    My best concert is U2 in Montreal, one month after September 11, 2001. As with most good concerts, it was a combination of context and music that made it such a memorable experience. :)

    I also caught Lilith Fair in Boston before it ended – that was pretty awesome too, in a different way. What a sense of community that show had. Plus, Chrissie Hynde. AWESOME.

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