Cohen koan - Page 2

In praise of Leonard Cohen past and present. Plus: Richard Swift, Beausoleil, Friendly Fires, and more
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Leonard Cohen, unbridled

Released along with a CD set, this straightforward, two-hour-plus document of a June 2008 arena show in London beats all that grainy Glastonbury footage on YouTube with its graceful shots of Cohen lost in the center of "Everybody Knows," eyes squeezed closed and mic cord clenched in a fist.

The greatest pleasures come from hearing later Cohen recordings reworked by a full band and witnessing the warmth and graciousness of a songwriter humbled by his audience. "It's wonderful to be gathered here on just the other side of intimacy," he says wryly at one point, soon segueing seamlessly into the chorus of "Anthem": "Ring the bells that still can ring /Forget your perfect offering /There is a crack in everything /That's how the light gets in." And perhaps that's how — and why — Cohen has gone from haunting the rooms of heartsick "Memories" to becoming the go-to guy for a shot of lyrical intelligence: he recognizes our battered souls and sings those elegant, oft-unspoken truths still lingering in the sad café of the pop unconscious.

LEONARD COHEN

Mon/13-April 15, 8 p.m., $69.50–$251

Paramount Theatre

2025 Broadway, Oakl.

www.goldenvoice.com

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DANCE ME TO THE END OF THE WEEK:

RICHARD SWIFT

Shades of Harry Nilsson: the tunesmith makes artful inroads with his soulful new The Atlantic Ocean (Secretly Canadian). With Vetiver and Adam Stephens. Wed/8, 9 p.m., $16. Great American Music Hall, 859 O'Farrell, SF. www.gamh.com

CHANGO SPASIUK

Astor Piazzolla is grinning somewhere when this Argentinean accordion master blends the blues, fado, and chamame. Thurs/9, 8 p.m., $18. Yoshi's, 1330 Fillmore, SF. www.yoshis.com

BEAUSOLEIL

Cajun music would be swallowed up by the swamp if not for the sprightly efforts of Michael Doucet and crew. With David Lindley. Fri/10, 8 p.m., $25. Great American Music Hall, 859 O'Farrell, SF. www.gamh.com

FRIENDLY FIRES, WHITE LIES, AND SOFT PACK

The moody, broody U.K. dance-pop rockers match beats alongside the spunky post-punk San Diegans. Sat/11, 9 p.m., $15. Slim's, 333 11th St., SF. www.slims-sf.com

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