I went to see Leonard Cohen on Tuesday night at the Air Canada Center. Thanks to the Davis Brothers for the invitation. We had great seats in a private box with clear sightlines to the stage. Leonard, at 78, is a phenomena. This is the Old Ideas tour and Lennie is in fine voice. Lynne and I saw him last time he passed through Toronto, two years back. It was a great show in a smaller venue. I was worried how he would do in the cavenous sports arena. Nothing to worry about. He cut the room to half the size during his first number and by the end of the night managed to shrink it down to a living room performance for his closest friends. There is nothing like Leonard Cohen out there. Looking like a Rat Pack survivor in a fedora and sharp suit, Leonard spent much of the performance on his knees, a mythological supplicant to God, a woman, the dark. "I wonder if he can get back up," said my wife. "I know," said I. "I'd need some help getting off of my knees." Leonard was up and down all night, a master of sincerity and seduction like a two-headed coin. The old songs were all there: Suzanne, Who by Fire, Sisters of Mercy and Halleluja. So too were the new. Hi band was smooth and tight, featuring Javier Mas on the 12-string bandurria, Neil Larsen oh Hammond B-3 organ, and Bob Metzger on steel guitar. The back-up singers– Sharon Robinson and the Webb sisters–were, in Leonards words, "sublime." Here's a lyric from Old Ideas that proves that you can get better with age: "I love to speak with Leonard He’s a sportsman and a shepherd He’s a lazy bastard Living in a suit But he does say what I tell him Even though it isn’t welcome He just doesn’t have the freedom To refuse He will speak these words of wisdom Like a sage, a man of vision Though he knows he’s really nothing But the brief elaboration of a tube Going home Without my sorrow Going home Sometime tomorrow Going home To where it’s better Than before Going home Without my burden Going home Behind the curtain Going home Without the costume That I wore He wants to write a love song An anthem of forgiving A manual for living with defeat A cry above the suffering A sacrifice recovering But that isn’t what I need him to complete I want to make him certain That he doesn’t have a burden That he doesn’t need a vision That he only has permission To do my instant bidding Which is to SAY what I have told him To repeat Going home… I love to speak with Leonard He’s a sportsman and a shepherd He’s a lazy bastard Living in a suit" Ah, Leonard. To be young and vital is nothing. To be old and vital....that's sorcery! See you on your next tour, rock star. © Patrick O’Neill 2012. All rights reserved.