Leonard Cohen – Vector Arena December 21, 2013

LC7It was like a reunion of old friends…Leonard Cohen, his band and his fans…back together in Auckland’s Vector Arena for the third time in five years. But, this show had a special feel about it, a sense of history, as the 79-year-old Cohen announced that, after five years on the road, this was the last show of the tour.

I know people who didn’t attend this show because they saw him either in 2009 or 2010 and where so overwhelmed by how perfect the show was that they didn’t want to “ruin” the experience by daring to see him again. Others stayed away fearing that it would be too similar to the previous shows and so there was no reason to see it again.

While I kind of understand both views, I have to say, you missed one of the best shows ever to come this way.

Yes, Leonard and his incredible band started out with Dance Me To The End Of Love, just as they had done in the two previous shows and yes, the set list included Everybody Knows, Bird On A Wire, Tower Of Song and Hallelujah…all of which had been performed here before. But, my God, they were beautiful versions! And why wouldn’t you want to hear them again?

Fortunately, plenty of people did, as the Vector was just about full.

The main difference between this show and the ones previous was the addition of songs from Cohen’s 2012 album, Old Ideas. There were three during the first half of the show (Darkness, Amen and Come Healing) and one during the second half (Going Home). These new entries stood up well against his old classics, with Going Home drawing plenty of laughs as Cohen referred to himself as “a lazy bastard living in a suit”.

In fact, there was plenty of humour throughout the three-hour show. At the beginning, Leonard thanked the folks sitting high up for endangering themselves and then thanks the rest of the crowd for endangering their budgets by buying tickets.

Cohen has held the same band together throughout his long tour and they are simply amazing:

Roscoe Beck – bass & musical director

Javier Mas – archilaud, guitar, bandurria

Mitch Watkins – guitars

Alexandru Bublitchi –violins

Rafael Bernardo Gayol – drums

Neil Larsen – keyboards

Sharon Robinson – vocals

The Webb Sisters – vocals

Mike Scoble – harmonica

LC3Long-time collaborators Sharon Robinson got her moment in the spotlight when she sang Alexandra Leaving and was absolutely mesmerizing…what a voice.

The Webb Sisters performed If It Be Your Will with a delicate touch that made the song that much more beautiful.

And as for Leonard, well, he’s never sounded better. He hit some impossibly low notes during Bird On A Wire and did a stunning recitation of A Thousand Kisses Deep that left me and about 10,000 other fans breathless. And I have to say that his performance of Famous Blue Raincoat was one for the ages.

This very special night ended with eight encores that eventually ended with Cohen’s entire crew joining him on stage for a sing-along of The Drifters’ hit Save The Last Dance For Me.  A perfect end to a perfect night.

Of course at age 79, who knows if we will get the chance to see Leonard again? But judging by the spring in his step as he left the stage after his three-hour show, I’m guessing we haven’t seen the last of him. And even if he doesn’t return, well, we still have all those wonderful songs to listen to.

Marty Duda

Click on any image to view a gallery of photos taken by The 13th Floor’s Michael Flynn:

Leonard Cohen set list:

First half

  1. Dance Me To The End Of Love
  2. The Future
  3. Bird On A Wire
  4. Everybody Knows
  5. Who By Fire
  6. Darkness
  7. Amen
  8. Come Healing
  9. Waiting For The Miracle
  10. Lover Lover Lover
  11. Anthem

Second Half

  1. Tower Of Song
  2. Suzanne
  3. Chelsea Hotel #2
  4. The Partisan
  5. Alexandra Leaving
  6. I’m Your Man
  7. A Thousand Kisses Deep
  8. Hallelujah
  9. Take This Waltz
  10. So Long, Marianne
  11. Going Home
  12. First We Take Manhattan
  13. Famous Blue Raincoat
  14. If It Be Your Will
  15. Closing Time
  16. I Tried To Leave You
  17. Save The Last Dance For Me


10 responses to “Leonard Cohen – Vector Arena December 21, 2013

  1. Rachel Haggie

    Fantastic opportunity to see/hear him again so soon afterr 2010. The set mix was perfect with several songs from his new album and I enjoyed his different version of Hallelujah. And all that kneeling and popping back up to standing without putting his hands on the floor!!!! Fantastic concert


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  5. Nathan

    I liked Dino Soldo but I much prefer the more traditional acoustic sound of the violin. Saw him three times on his most recent tour of Australia and I wish I could’ve seen more. I’m in awe of Leonard and his superb band.


  6. Robert McAdam

    Beg to differ sorry, it wasn’t his best, the last show in Auckland 2010 was for me. The most disappointing thing was the absence of Dino Soldo, gosh he was a huge part of the last show. Addition of the violinist was excellent but missed the sax. The replacement guitarist was largely unproductive compared to Bob Metzger.
    I also thought Leonard got off to a slow start somewhat tired as were the Webb sisters. Certainly can’t blame them and they were professional and carried their performances off. This was the last show of what was a huge tour for them all. I don’t think he will ever do this again.
    He did pick it up after half time and the sound also improved. Would not have missed it but in future would love to see him in a smaller venue with more comfortable surroundings. I’m over the Vector after this one.


    • Couldn’t disagree more. The sound was exquisite where I was (in the back). This proved to me the there is mothing wrong with the Vector’s sound that a good engineer can’t overcome. If indeed there is anything to overcome. And Much as I love the sax, the strings were even better. And boy did they sound good.


    • The Lone Ranger

      My only visit to Vector was for Cohen 2010.I was impressed with the sound and venue,given negative comments I had read.
      That was my first live viewing of him,and as always has maximum impact as you take it in.
      2013 I saw the CHCH show in the excellent stadium they have there.
      I the past decade I have seen Dylan 69,BBK 85,Mayall 76,Diddley 78J,Brown 70,and many top artists in their 60’s.
      in my opinion what you get from Cohen at 79 is light years ahead of what you get from Dylan at 69.
      Cohen at 79 is remarkable,reflecting years of yoga and meditation.
      Have a look at the Jools Holland clips on You Tube 1995/96.A more subdued presentation than at present,and the violin in the right hands is the correct instrument not the sax.
      The earlier part of his 2013 show was a more uptempto,less delicate than historically…..more “poppy”.
      I prefer the more delicate touch.
      That must be a reflection of the musical director’s plan.
      However as the show moved on,it was back to the usual.
      The almost capacity crowd left supremely satisfied.
      Be grateful that you have had the opportunity to see a legend together with master musicans and the sublime Webb Sisters.


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  8. Anita rundlof

    The best show ever, saw it in Stockholm, so perfect and Leonard great singer and entertainer, and his band…wow….<3


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