HELSINKI 1993

April 29th, 1993, Ice Hall

"Thank you so much for your warm reception and thank you for coming tonight. I appreciate it. I know that times are hard and ticket prices are high, and I appreciate your being here. Many of the places that we go to...we bring them our bad news, but we donít have to bring you the bad news. You know the bad news already (*). The whole history of your country is knowing the bad news. In America there was recently a documentary on your people in which it was indicated that you are sullen and melancholy and depressed - and I have come here to cheer myself up!"

*) Leonard on April 29th, 1993, making an allusion to the economic depression and bank crisis of that time in Finland

Songs:

1. Dance me to the end of love
2. The future
3. Bird on the wire
4. Everybody knows
5. Ainít no cure for love
6. Anthem
7. First we take Manhattan
8. Avalanche
9. Tower of song
10. Democracy I
11. Waiting for the miracle
12. Iím your man
13. Joan of Arc
14. Closing time
15. Take this waltz
16. Hallelujah
17. Sisters of mercy
18. I canít forget
19. So long, Marianne
20. I tried to leave you
21. Democracy II

Musicians:

Jorge Calderon (bass)
Bob Furgo (violin, keyboards)
Bill Ginn (keyboards)
Steve Meador (drums)
Bob Metzger (guitars, pedal steel)
Paul Ostermayer (saxes, keyboards)
Perla Batalla (vocals)
Julie Christensen (vocals)


John Walsh reports from Oslo
two days later (May 30th, 1993):

"MELANCHOLY BABY"

... In the green room, Leonard Cohen and his band are relaxing before taking the stage. Kitted out entirely in black, like a team of referees, they sit fake-meditational in leather chairs. Votive candles suggest that some sacramental ritual is in the offing. Plastic cups of Macon Rouge are guardedly sipped, but the economy-size pack of Norwegian pretzels, kindly provided by the management, fails to attract any takers.

Perla Batalla, one of the backing singers, a luminously beautiful Chicano in demure dťcolletage, braids the grey mane of the fiddler, Bobby Furgo, a granny-spectacled cove who is the butt of laddish humour: "Did you hear that woman banging on Bobbyís door half an hour last night? She was desperate. He finally got up and let her out." The antiquity of the joke is the only sign on nerves. Most of Cohenís band were playing together on the Iím Your Man tour in 1988 and before. This is Oslo gig is the fourth date on a 38-city tour of Europe and America (...) to celebrate a singer who has moved, at the age on 58, from virtual has-been to late-flowering hipster.

... The Oslo auditorium is transformed. it is 11 pm and Leonard Cohen has been on stage for the best part of three hours. A solo rendition of "Suzanne", delivered into a lonely spotlight, has knocked the romantics off their seats. The irresistible hoedown of "Closing Time" (from the new album and among the premier league of his songs) has been muted jiving in the front row. Three encores have left Perla and Julie dazed with fatigue and when itís the drummerís turn for a solo he contents himself with merely brushing the cymbals. But nobody wants to go home.

Cohen has liberated a glass of wine from the green room and, eyeing the pullulating mass swaying in front of the stage, starts to sing: "I tried to leave you/I wonít deny it/I closed the book on us/Least a hundred time..." Cohen, the grizzled pilgrim, the Sixties refusenik, the damaged priest, looks like he is having the time of his life.

(From "The Independent Magazine", May 8th, 1993)



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