Flowing pedal-steel lights up Leonard Cohen’s bittersweet songs in Vancouver

alexander w. thomas photo

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON MAY 24, 1985

By Steve Newton

The mellow magic of singer-poet Leonard Cohen cast its spell on an enthusiastic crowd at the Orpheum last week. The concert was part of Cohen’s first North American tour in ten years and featured songs from his new album Various Positions, as well as past hits from the ’60s and ’70s.

During his performance Cohen was actually a man of very few positions. In fact, he hardly moved at all from his spot at center stage, except to step back into the shadows and gently strum his guitar while one of five accompanying players took a solo.

He was joined by keyboards, bass, drums, electric guitar, and pedal steel, all of which were manned by the most calm, collected, and capable of musicians.

I especially liked the flowing cry of the steel, which seemed to fit so well the bittersweet tone of many of Cohen’s tunes.

His set included such famous pieces as “Suzanne” and “Bird On a Wire”, as well as his most recent single, “Dance Me to the End of Love”.

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