Personnel: Leonard Cohen (vocals, guitar, keyboards); Jorge Calderon (vocals, bass); Perla Batalla, Julie Christensen (vocals); Bob Metzger (electric & pedal steel guitar); John Bilezikjian (oud, mandolin); Bob Furgo (violin, keyboards); Paul Ostermayer (saxophone, keyboards); Stephen Zirkel (trumpet, keyboards, bass); Tom McMorran, Bill Ginn (keyboards); Steve Meador (drums).
Recorded live in 1988 & 1993.
By the '90s, Cohen's image had changed from that of brooding acoustic troubadour to ironic chansonnier, closer to Serge Gainsbourg than to Bob Dylan. This live album reflects Cohen's latter-day persona by capturing in flight the essence of his performances. On early tunes like the gorgeous ballad "Suzanne" and the foreboding, biblical "Who By Fire," the band spins a smooth sonic latticework, over which Cohen unleashes his poetic ruminations. Newer compositions such as "I'm Your Man" and "Everybody Knows" are at once darker and more humorous, as Cohen undercuts his sinister vocal delivery with a sharp sense of black humor. The main advantage of owning COHEN LIVE is that the singer, relatively controlled in the studio, is more apt to let passion overtake him in live performance. It is at those moments that the true essence of Leonard Cohen is revealed; the raging inner beast barely suppressed by the fragile, self-effacing superego.