Live music is about the transcendent moments. They're the times when you stand (or sit) in awe of a performer and think, "There is nowhere I would rather be right now than right here." (Actually, you're probably not even thinking because you're overcome with emotion.) It's what every single person who pays to see a concert hopes to feel. In a time when any ragtag flavor of the week band can headline with 25 minutes of material, those sublime moments seem to be fewer and farther between than ever. But when they do present themselves, they really hit a sweet spot.
At Wednesday's Leonard Cohen concert at the Chicago Theatre, the audience was treated to a few of those rare moments; whether it was hearing the first recognizable notes of an iconic song or just reveling in an incredible performance of one. Few, if any, will soon forget it. Even with a six-piece band and three backing singers, the highlight of the evening was clearly the deep, rich voice that filled the hall with exceptional warmth. When the band sounded a bit cheesy in its arrangements, Cohen pulled the show back to respectability. When a solo stole, he tipped his hat to the player. But, of course, it was all about him - a 74-year old singer laying out the songs that made him a legend.
The rapturous cheers at the onset of "Bird on a Wire" and the squeals of delight for "Chelsea Hotel" were all the proof anyone would need to cement the iconic status of Leonard Cohen. But it's not acknowledgment that makes a great concert. It's when 3,600 people leap to their feet in applause at the end of "Hallelujah." It's when someone next to you simply sighs, "Oh my." It's a song impacting you more profoundly than the other thousand times you've heard it.
For three hours Leonard Cohen entertained with a lot of songs, a little poetry, some fine-tuned banter and a gracefully-aged voice. There is absolutely nowhere else I would have wanted to be during that time.