May 12th, 2009

cass groovy

Leonard Cohen in concert

I have spent most of the weekend on the road, because I've made my way up to my mother's house to help her out with a wide variety of projects. Amongst the shed-building and other renovation, I took the opportunity to fulfill a long-held ambition: LEONARD COHEN IN CONCERT. Fuck yeah!

I am not a concert-goer, usually, and I am not a music fanboy, but, dude. LEONARD COHEN. To give you an idea of the depth of my feeling, I miss the days when I could tell people that my favorite song was Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" and have them *not know what the fuck I was talking about.* I missed Cohen's tour for "The Future." That was his last tour. It was *fifteen years ago,* people. I was in *high school.* I have been kicking myself ever since.

No more! Not about this, anyway. I saw him at the Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, MD, and he was in terrific form. Cohen's starting to show his age -- particularly in his hands; his wrists are frighteningly old-man skinny -- but by gum he brought it. It was a classy, comfortable, leisurely show. The venue had advised that Mr. Cohen would take the stage promptly at 7:30 PM, and maybe he actually started around five minutes after that. No opening act; the concert ran for at least three hours, counting one intermission of maybe twenty minutes. He had a good bunch of bandmates and vocalists: Neil Larsen (keyboards), Roscoe Beck (bass/backing vocals/music direction), Javier Mas (guitar) Bob Metzger (guitar), Dino Soldo (sax/harmonica/backing vocals), and Rafael Gayol (percussion) provided the instrumentation, while the main backing vocals were provided by Cohen's longtime collaborator Sharon Robinson, along with the Webb Sisters (Hattie and Charlie). I've really enjoyed Robinson's work on Cohen's albums, so getting to see her sing with him in person was a real treat. (Among other credits, she co-wrote "Everybody Knows.") The band got plenty of opportunities to showcase their abilities, as Cohen set a leisurely pace, particularly early in the show, and there were plenty of instrumental solos. The second half of the show picked up in pace and intensity, and it was a great payoff.

A couple of notes: 1) I want an animated .gif icon of Leonard Cohen's old white man dancing skillz, because they were totally adorable; 2) Cohen likes to go down on his knees often while he's singing, so his area of the stage was covered with nice rugs. I may be mistaken, because I was a way off and the best look I got at the rugs was on the video monitors, but I could swear that at least one of them was a Qom.

Never done a concert write-up before; hopefully those friends of mine who're in bandom will let me know if this is the approved way of doing this.

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cass groovy

APED: "macellroy's old hardware store"

Yeah, from out on the street, this place looks petite,
not the world’s biggest hardware store,
but walk down the aisle for the shortest of whiles,
and you’ll want to build more, more and more:
you’ll see parts of strange things,
wood-wax-feather wings,
and a conch with a thread at its core,
and things that ain’t done,
‘cause they’re hardly begun,
in MacEllroy’s old hardware store.

The tinkers and makers and dreamers and shapers
who leave little things incomplete
just tidy them up, and then leave ‘em here,
on the sidewalk just out of the street.
They look like trash,
but with just a dash
of invention, you’ll make something neat.
I see your eyes gleam,
planning something undreamed.
Go build it then. Make it complete.

Build you a pig that’s made out of wood,
and stands seventeen stories high.
Build you a battleship, floating real good,
with big guns to shoot down the sky.
Build you a friend who’ll always be there
to listen and help you and more:
There’s stuff enough here to build what you dare,
at MacEllroy’s old hardware store.

So go on, dive in it. The sky is the limit.
If it doesn’t work out, that’s okay.
Just bring it back, if you ain’t got the knack,
and it’ll be gone the next day.
‘cause someone can use those things that you choose
in their do-it-yourselfer’s buffet,
and you can take theirs,
it’s all in our wares,
so build you a great dream today.

Build a pig that’s got wings of wax, feathers, and wood,
and flamethrowers in both its eyes.
Build a ship of the line that whistles real good
any tune that it might try.
And build you a friend who’s got thirteen legs,
none of ‘em work just the same.
'Cause this world’s a round hole, and if you’re a square peg,
you’ll always be real glad you came.
You’ll find things you didn’t know you wanted there,
a stockroom of pieces beyond all compare
There’s stuff enough here to build what you dare
at MacEllroy’s old hardware store.