94 of 97 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice companion release to "Live in London"
After the release of "Live in London" in March of last year, and "Live at the Isle of Wright 1970" in October of last year, Leonard Cohen has just released another, yes ANOTHER, live album/DVD combo. I have to admit that my first reaction was "money grabbing move!!" I mean, last year's "Live in London" 2CD/DVD combo is a fantastic document from his on-going...
Published on September 14, 2010 by Paul Allaer
50 of 53 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Glimpses from everywhere do not connect
I love Leonard Cohen! I am ashamed to admit how many times I've listened to and viewed his "Leonard Cohen in London." But this DVD, "Songs from the Road" is, in my view, much inferior to "Leonard Cohen in London." It does have new songs, but what is missing is Cohen's wonderful rapport with the audience, and with his players, which the "London" dvd exhibits. The sweetness...
Published on September 18, 2010 by S. Spilka
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94 of 97 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice companion release to "Live in London",
This review is from: Songs From The Road (CD/DVD) (Audio CD)After the release of "Live in London" in March of last year, and "Live at the Isle of Wright 1970" in October of last year, Leonard Cohen has just released another, yes ANOTHER, live album/DVD combo. I have to admit that my first reaction was "money grabbing move!!" I mean, last year's "Live in London" 2CD/DVD combo is a fantastic document from his on-going (never-ending?) world tour.
"Songs From the Road" (12 tracks; 66 min.) brings a collection of tunes recorded all over the world during the 08-09 world tour. Upon reviewing the set list closer, I was pleasantly surprised that there is only a 4 song overlap (Bird on a Wire; Suzanne; Hallelujah; Closing Time) between this and the "Live in London" album. Testament to the depth of Cohen's catalogue, for one. There are some really great songs on here, including "Lover, Lover, Lover" (one of my all-time favorite Cohen songs), but also "Famous Blue Raincoat" and some lesser-known songs like "Heart With No Companhion" and "That Don't Make It Junk". The DVD (91 min.) brings the same 12 songs and some bonus backstage footage filmed by Cohen's daughter. Of course, considering that the capacity of a DVD is about 3 hrs, the DVD is under-used. At the same time, the quality is a step up from the "Live in London" footage.
Incredibly, there is also a track on here ("Hallelujah") from the set I saw Leonard Cohen do at the Coachella music festival last year. Cohen's set, which happened just as the sun was setting, was one of THE highlights of the entire festival for me. So immediately this became a must-have for me, period. So it may be there a hint of "money-grabbing" by releasing this collection, but in the end, who would begrudge the legendary Leonard Cohen?
50 of 53 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Glimpses from everywhere do not connect,
This review is from: Songs From The Road (CD/DVD) (Audio CD)I love Leonard Cohen! I am ashamed to admit how many times I've listened to and viewed his "Leonard Cohen in London." But this DVD, "Songs from the Road" is, in my view, much inferior to "Leonard Cohen in London." It does have new songs, but what is missing is Cohen's wonderful rapport with the audience, and with his players, which the "London" dvd exhibits. The sweetness of Leonard Cohen, mixed in with the darkness and shadows that accompany almost every song, is displayed in the London dvd, not only through the songs, but through his remarks to the audience, through his praise for each of the players in his band, and through the camera, which follows him and his band loyally and lovingly, punctuating the carefully planned rhythmic patterns. "Songs from the Road," by contrast, is uneven. Sometimes the stage is so far away that it is hard to discern the individual players. At times the audio quality is inferior. The "Hallelujah" song is much more inspiring and coherent in the London dvd. "Closing Time" is also much more grandly executed in the London dvd. Whereas the London dvd manifests deliberate variations in the tempo and themes of songs, "Songs from the Road" is mostly slow and dark. Indeed "The Partisan" is a great song, but it is an exception. What I am missing most in this dvd is the warmth and the exuberance of Leonard Cohen in London. Even the "Backstage Sketch" by Cohen's daughter, Lorca, is disappointing. It seems that as she followed the players around, no one particularly wanted to talk, except for Dino Soldo (a wonderful wind instruments player who is not given his due in this dvd). It is a "sketch" indeed, and a dull one at that. She does not even interview her own father--which is probably not her fault. So, in sum, the performances are uneven, the songs are not very exciting, and the brilliance of the London dvd is dimmed by shadows. If you can buy only one of them, buy the London dvd, without question.
29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Songs from the Road, Songs from the Heart,
This review is from: Songs From The Road (CD/DVD) (Audio CD)Has a sharper-sounding, better mixed, more passionate, organic live album been released? There is reason to doubt it.
All the more power to Leonard Cohen that he has been able to command high prices as of late in his touring - after all, he needs the money - but for those with sophisticated musical taste and a wallet that is incongruous "Songs from the Road" is a mighty handsome consolation prize.
The applause from the audience is non-intrusive, but warm and enthusiastic. Cohen wraps his warm, trademark voice around every syllable. His backing vocalists complement him with angelic, lilting, delicate beauty, and his touring musicians are impeccable - never a beat is missed.
To see and hear this live CD/DVD combo on the home entertainment system is better than being in row 200 at the concert. After all, Cohen's idiosyncrasies and incisive lyrics are too heady and sublime - in a setting that lacks intimacy they lose something.
With "Songs from the Road" we get the feel of an audience of thousands appreciating the music, but they are firmly in the background. The sound quality here is the quality of being fifth row center. The knowledge that these songs were recorded at various venues is remarkable, as they flow seamlessly on the CD.
The urgent, complex "Waiting for a Miracle" sounds undilutedly smoky and probing, and "Lover Lover Lover" is a rousing joy to hear - the bristling enthusiasm Cohen displays here is something most of his peers are, by now, phoning in or feigning during live appearances. The same can be said for the particularly poetic "Chelsea Hotel."
"Avalanche," from 1971's "Songs of Love and Hate," is sharply draped in cool, elegant vengeance. The iconic, eloquent "Suzanne" still sounds fresh as well. If Cohen has tired of it, it does not show in his performance.
"Hallelujah" would benefit from a starker arrangement. Here, the backing vocalists and band dilute the power of the song slightly, although their contributions miss no beat and sound crisply professional. It is a minimal misstep, especially when there are so many different recordings of the song to choose from.
It is a breath of fresh air to see Cohen enjoying the renewed burst of popularity he has enjoyed since reintroducing himself to the spotlight, and "Songs from the Road" distills this new phase of his career into a gorgeous, well-wrought, clearly labored-over live album.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Someone Hand Roscoe Beck a Cello,
This review is from: Songs From The Road (CD/DVD) (Audio CD)I was two rows back, on the floor, at the Kingston Ontario show in May of 2009 when Cohen played The Partisan. It sent chills up my spine, made the hair stand up on the back of my neck. It was that good.
Songs From the Road contains a Helsinki performance of The Partisan that's so intense it did it once again. "Through the graves the wind is blowing. Freedom soon will come".
In addition there are seven other songs that weren't on Live In London (only four are repeated). Taken together they round out the record of what must be one of the most amazing tours ever. All performed by a man in his mid seventies.
Apart from The Partisan, the standouts for me are Famous Blue Raincoat, Lover, Lover, Lover, and Waiting for the Miracle. Famous Blue Raincoat includes what must be one of the most sultry and soulful sax solos ever laid down by the incomparable Dino Soldo. Lover, Lover, Lover throbs with the insistency of unrequited desire, set against the flowing virtuosity of Javier Mas. And Waiting For the Miracle broods with an almost unimaginable darkness.
The only song that doesn't work for me is Avalanche ("I stepped into an avalanche, it covered up my soul"). The original version on Songs of Love and Hate is defined by a raw and menacing cello line which here is absent. Considering that the musicians in Cohen's band seem each to play a multiplicity of instruments, it doesn't seem like it would have been a stretch for musical director Roscoe Beck to put down the 5 string electric bass and contrabass to pick up a cello for the part.
But it was not to be...
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very fine material, but an opportunity missed?,
This review is from: Songs From The Road (CD/DVD) (Audio CD)This new CD/DVD comprises footage from around the world during the first two years of Cohen's monster 2008-10 tour, and it makes a welcome sequel to "Live in London," which was a great show filmed at the beginning. The DVD has a nice bonus feature of over 20 minutes of backstage footage, and it's fun to have a peek behind the curtain--a rarity for this tour.
On that note, one may wish for a sequel to a different Cohen tour picture, "Bird on a Wire," which would give us more of a documentary approach. This is not that, nor is it meant to be. But how welcome such an endeavor would have been.
The only quibbles I can imagine will be strictly subjective; in my case, at the show I saw outside Baltimore, I seem to remember the audience being mesmerized by a stark, solo "Famous Blue Raincoat," but it's a fuller band arrangement here. But, big deal. Everything here is worthy, especially for Cohen enthusiasts. Cohen's warm reception by the young crowd at Coachella might be the most moving moment of the whole collection.
And let's not overlook what a generous package this is: a CD and matching DVD under one cover, the songs brilliantly recorded and edited into a seamless whole, with an excellent set of insightful liner notes.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, Just Wonderful,
This review is from: Songs From The Road (CD/DVD) (Audio CD)I downloaded the audio album. (I have not seen the DVD, but I will.) It is wonderful. I am overwhelmed by it and moved to tears. And, no, that doesn't happen often. Yes, I am a Cohen fan, and I was privileged to see and hear him in this tour. So, I don't claim objectivity. It doesn't replace the Live in London CD/DVD, but it includes songs not in that collection. And one or two versions are completely new to me. Seeing him on stage, I thought the performances were fully rehearsed - and great - and would be much the same at every concert. But I guess not. This collection makes me wish I could have followed him around on the tour. His backup musicians help make it the masterpiece it is. They, too, are wonderful.
Leonard Cohen is a genius and one of the greatest living artists in any genre. I can only listen to the music of two people over and over and never be disappointed or bored - J.S. Bach and Leonard Cohen.
I really am sorry to gush, but it's my honest reaction. I wish Amazon allowed six stars.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More great Cohen,
This review is from: Songs From The Road (CD/DVD) (Audio CD)For the recent USA and world tours of Cohen's famous "return from retirement," Roscoe Beck put together the very best band that Cohen has ever sung with. The essence of those tours was captured on the Live in London recordings that were made relatively early in the tours. The London Concert was a masterpiece, each of the gems from Cohen's extensive catalogue further refined, lyrics tweaked, phrasings improved, inflections moved, modulations shifted . . . all small things technically but that added up to easily the most powerful perfomences of Cohen's career.
This album is more of that, with the same band, generally different tunes, each picked for its performance quality rather than trying to keep the songs within one concert.
If you enjoyed the London Concert CD, you'll enjoy these performances.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From Beginning to end...,
This review is from: Songs From The Road (CD/DVD) (Audio CD)From "Live At The Isle Of Wight" to "Songs From The Road", the journey of Leonard Cohen has been an enviable life filled with the impressions the ordinary man can only hope to express. I'm overwhelmed by his various interpretions of the songs he created out of the breath of his life. Like a fine wine, he ages in the bottle of his existance and his performances exhibits an exceptance of his mortaity. I can only hope for more from this master of the words, poems and songs of life, and I shall mourn when his words and songs come forth nomore. Truly, one of the best of the best, a master of interpreting the human condition. Thank you Leonard, you enhanced my life.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Leonard Cohen,
This review is from: Songs From The Road (CD/DVD) (Audio CD)This CD records a magnificent live performance by the master of song. I have been listening to this gifted man for more than 40 years, I never tire of him; he has only gotten better over time. The initial song on this CD, "Lover, lover," appeared on the Commander Cohen CD back in the late 70s, but this newer live version is better and reflects the greatness of his musical arrangements for his backup bands and singers. The words, the melodies and the musicality of Leonard Cohen have stood the test of time--he is a musical and poetic genius and I urge all that do not know him, to give him a good listen. Finally, it is ironic that Leonard's loss of money in his later life has actually been a gift to his fans who have been bestowed with this CD and his other late-in-life music.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Stuff from "The Grand Old Man" as Always!,
This review is from: Songs From The Road (CD/DVD) (Audio CD)For many of us the name Leonard Cohen is as familiar as a best old friend, or a member of our family. This is, of course, a wonderful thing!
But, fortunately, time and history go on, and every year brings this super-talented poet, songwriter, and artist more and more dedicated fans. Again, a wonderful thing!
The past year-and-a-half has seen the release of "The Isle of Wight Concert", "Live in London", and, now, "Songs From the Road". All three sets are fantastic must-have "moments" from this great man's performance history. Simply put, there is perhaps no other artist with a more lengthy, consistently first-rate in output (both as a writer and also as a singer)during a career except perhaps for Bob Dylan. When one stops and thinks about it, this is astonishing, considering how many "greats" turn out to be meteoric in nature once "time" is factored in. Also consistency of quality material and delivery, with sheer ability to withstand these many years of living in the surely draining and wearisome, hectic world of touring, worldwide, and keeping up with creating, recording, etc. Most simply cannot, and do not, last. Those who do of course, become "Saints" if you will, and certainly Leonard Cohen is at the pinnacle of this rare group.
With age the "Grand Old Man" becomes even better, more endearing to our ears. How many artists can sing the same songs to us, over and over, all these years and they just get "better and better" and "more meaningful" both "to us", and in Cohen's delivery of them "for us"? Not many.
With the release of the "Isle of Wight Concert", Cohen's longtime fans were given a great gift from the past...a 30 year old document of this great artist performing live all those many years ago, and we welcomed it eagerly!
Then, at the beginning of the year, "Live in London" was presented on television, and released for our pleasure. Surely the "highlight", for a great many, of entertainment recordings (aural and also visual) for the year...and the release deserves the great acclaim it has received.
And, now, "Songs From the Road" adds further to this sequence, by presenting many additional performances from his "stopping places" around the world on his tour that "Live in London" was a part of.
There are a few songs repeated here from the "London" set, but they are so wonderful you will not mind (if you already have the "London" set--as well you should). Some have griped here about this, but it is nit-picking on their part. Others have complained that "it doesn't hold together"...well, one must consider and remember that these recordings are taken from concerts from all over the globe. Neither Cohen nor Sony have hidden or denied this. Simply put, they individually are outstanding performances, certainly worthy of documentation and preservation for our pleasure (so get over it, complainers)!
The delivery of "Bird on a Wire" from Glasgow, will surely amaze you with the level of heartfelt intensity that Cohen retains for this great song...I'm betting it becomes your favorite recording of it...after all these years and years, still fresh and new, yet lived with; habited with. "Lover Lover Lover" will also find its way into your heart. "Heart With No Companion", "Waiting For the Miracle", "Avalanche", "Suzanne", "The Partisan", "Hallelujah", and "Closing Time" are all just as wonderful as they ever were, certainly, and perhaps even "better" than you remembered, especially with Cohen's current delivery.
"Returning" from the previous release, are: "Chelsea Hotel", "That Don't Make it Junk", and "Famous Blue Raincoat", surely not too much of a repeat for any Cohen fan!
So, in retrospect, what we have here is sort of like a "postscript", if you will, to Cohen's fabulously successful World Tour, and, indeed, another testament to this Grand Old Man's great talent, and his relevance to us in this world, touching us as he does where we desperately do need to be touched.
A fitting companion to the two previous CD/DVD releases, surely!
In addition, presented on the cover of this release is perhaps one of the finest and certainly most intriguing photos of this great artist. I cannot help thinking that it represents his departure, perhaps, "his going away" (his retirement), which I surely hope is not so...
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