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LEONARD COHEN - "Songs From The Road"   Print  E-mail 
Written by Mark Reed  
Tuesday, 26 October 2010

One For The Committed

So, as Leonard Cohen, at 77, and 191 shows into his never ending retirement fund, rolls ever further into what may be his final, and farewell, nostalgia show, I wonder what is the point of this. The second live album and DVD from the same tour, this set is less than half the length of the previous "Live In London" set, and also lacking in much in the way of any reason to exist artistically : the only thing I could really say in it's favour is that most of it - 8 or so songs - aren't on the previous London set.

Cohen and his large band are filmed at dozens of shows, and extracts from several - a song here, a song there - including a couple from the O2 show I saw two years ago, are laid in a rough order. By and large, this compilation is nothing more and nothing less than a bunch of live material from dozens of shows on a tour that has already been represented in full by the far more complete and interesting London concert.

This is by no means a bad release, being value for money and musically compelling, but it makes me wonder, as ever, why Cohen seems being painted a man with no artistic ability anymore. When one hears the "Blue Alert" album he wrote with backing vocalist Anjani, you know that Cohen artistically is still capable of writing some of the greatest songs of his life. Why none of them are here is baffling.

It's not by any means a bad record, but face it, "Live In London" is a far better, and more comprehensive release that covers his career and work with far more credibility. This selection cuts without continuity between venues thousands of miles and years apart, with little to connect them but the band wearing exactly the same clothes no matter where in the world might be. About the only positive is that it acts as a defacto "extra" DVD feature of songs from other dates on the tour that aren't on "Live In London", but is hardly, in its right worthy, and, as I experienced it for the first time I gained an overwhelming sense of déjà vu. One for the committed.

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