Artblog at the movies–Leonard Cohen: Live in London

Leonard Cohen is dressed like a boulevardier in a brimmed hat and impeccably tailored suit in the concert movie Leonard Cohen: Live in London.

leonard cohen live in london
Leonard Cohen, Live in London concert

Live he is with a sparkling smile of glee each time the audience shouts out requests at him–for his songs about the death of love, the death of optimism, the death of fairness and death itself. His death-mask persona–the sharp nose, the wide-stretched grin, pale taut skin–is Cabaret. But he’s a born-again cynic who can’t quite let go of his underlying romanticism–the well-spring that feeds his mournful disappointments, losses and dashed hopes. He’s a master of the poetic lyric, in some ways Bob Dylan’s alter-ego.

I am finding this music video riveting. Part is the language. Part is the visuals. Besides Cohen himself his back-up team is pure glamor in indigo and pink lighting. The musicians and backup singers all sport black suits. Elegant and intense, three women, the Leonard Cohen Pips?–one African American, one pale blonde, and one brunette–move in low-key Motown unison. The musicians take trippy command of their melodies and wide array of instruments, some of which I could not identify.


Cohen is aging well in so many ways. The music stands up (oh, well, I can’t let go of my early ’70s feminist ire at Suzanne) and has even gotten better. The singer is charismatic with his world-weary voice–and the closeups of his aging face on my large screen TV. I can’t wait to see the rest (I’m 2/3 through the 2.5-hour video–too long for a weeknight). He’s already sung some of his really big hits–like Hallelujah, and Everybody Knows. And what I myself know is he must have some blockbuster left for the ending.