Personnel: Leonard Cohen (vocals, guitar, keyboards); Bob Metzger (guitar, pedal steel guitar); Charley Webb, Charles Webb (guitar, background vocals); Javier Mas (12-string guitar, bandurria, lute, archlute); Javier M s (12-string guitar, bandurria, archlute); Hattie Webb (harp, background vocals); Dino Soldo (harmonica, keyboards, wind, background vocals); Neil Larsen (keyboards); Roscoe Beck (upright bass, electric bass, background vocals); Rafael Gayol (drums, percussion); Sharon Robinson (background vocals).
Audio Mixers: Jay Ruston; Michael Brauer; Peter Asher.
Audio Remasterer: Bob Ludwig.
Liner Note Author: John Aizlewood.
Recording information: O2 Arena, London, England (07/17/2008).
Photographers: Robert Yager; James Cumpsty.
Arranger: Leonard Cohen.
After taking a decade-and-a-half vacation from live performance, septuagenarian singer/songwriter/saint Leonard Cohen returned to the stage in 2008 for a European tour. During his absence, his popularity had grown to such a degree that his London concert took place at the city's O2 Arena. With the gathered masses sounding suitably enraptured, Cohen can be heard delivering a long program that serves as both career summary and mission reiteration on this double-length live album (FYI, there's also a DVD companion release).
Amazingly, Cohen sounds even more vital and intense than the last time he strode the boards, back in the mid-'90s. For all the high-powered cover versions over the years, his cavernously deep voice remains the most effective instrument for delivering his poetic incantations, looming large over a subtle, sympathetic band. He invests '60s classics like "Suzanne" and "Bird on a Wire" with new energy, underlining their continued relevance, while establishing a place in the canon for latter-day gems like "Anthem" and "Democracy," all the while punctuating his performance with carefully placed quips that show his trademark black humor to be in full effect.
Billboard (p.37) - "[T]hese 26 tunes, delivered in his steady rumbling baritone, may have never sounded better, certainly not in one place on one special night."
Uncut (magazine) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "[M]eticulous control is crucial to the potency of these 25 songs....An uncommonly thoughtful victory lap, which deserves -- and has received -- a handsome recorded memorial."
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