critic’s pick 259: king crimson, ‘live at the orpheum’

King-Crimson-Live-At-The-OrpheumOn the back cover of Live at the Orpheum, the seven members of prog mainstay King Crimson that convened for a fall 2014 tour appear in black suits and ties, looking more like a hip corporate board than a pack of learned rock vets.

Inside, of course, is where the newly reconstituted Crimson gets down to serious business. With a front line of three drummers and a back line led by guitarist/founder Robert Fripp, the band discovers astonishing new life within vintage compositions, some of which no Crimson lineup has played live in over 42 years. But a nostalgia ride Live at the Orpheum is not.

The current band roster boasts returnees from Crimson lineups spanning each of the past five decades, along with one fresh recruit. Although the songs, aside from two brief instrumentals, aren’t new, the playing is ripe with reinvention.

Take the one-two punch of The Letters and A Sailor’s Tale, originally from 1971’s Islands but absent from the band’s performance repertoire since 1972.

The return of ‘70s saxophonist/flutist Mel Collins and the advent of the drum trio (Pat Mastelotto, Bill Rieflin and Gavin Harrison) on The Letters sets up a feel that falls between operatic and psychedelic. The mood is completed by new guitarist/vocalist (but longtime Crimson ally) Jakko Jakszyk, whose singing adds an almost Gothic drama to the piece.

A Sailor’s Tale is a revelation. Initiated by the drummers with shimmering and eventually propulsive percussion, the tune’s fuse is lit by Collins’ free-jazz accents on sax along with the dual guitar melodies of Fripp and Jakszyk. The music later swells to a thundering crescendo piloted by longtime Crimson bassist/stick player Tony Levin.

From a comparatively newer court of this Crimson king comes the title tune to 2000’s The ConstruKction of Light, retooled as a mischievous instrumental distinguished by flute and sax runs from Collins and the continually playful groove of the drum team.

Completing the setlist for this sadly brief 41 minute live document are two works from 1974’s Red cut after Collins left the band even though he contributed greatly to the record. One More Red Nightmare, which Crimson never played live prior to this tour, leaps to life with plump guitar riffs and percussive bounce. The album-closing Starless, again with remarkable coloring by Collins and grounding by Levin, is a requiem that opens with icy calm before building, layer by layer, into rhythmic frenzy.

How permanent will this Crimson be? Hard to say. The joyous aspect of such wonder, though, is that even if the band disappears, we have this volcanic document of when the King shook the world again.

King Crimson bassist Tony Levin will perform with the California Guitar Trio on Jan. 31 at the St. Xavier Performance Center, 600 West North Bend St in Cincinnati (7:30 p.m.; $36, $41). Call (513) 484-0157 or go to

keb’ mo’ on joe cocker

keb' mo'

keb’ mo’

During my recent interview with Keb’ Mo’, viewable elsewhere on The Musical Box as a preview story for his Jan. 28 concert at the Lexington Opera House, I asked about Joe Cocker. The late vocalist, who died Dec. 22, befriended Mo’ early in his career and eventually invited him on the road as an opening act. Mo’ replied with a detailed tribute of Cocker that deserves to be shared in its entirety.

Here is a glimpse of the Joe Cocker that Keb Mo’ knew.

“Joe Cocker was amazing to me. The first time I met him was in the early ‘70s – probably ’73 – backstage at the Troubadour in Los Angeles. He opened the door and fell down drunk right in front of me. Really. Literally. I’m like, ‘Holy (expletive). Here I am, 22 years old and Joe Cocker has fallen on the floor drunk right in front of me.’

“Now I had been listening to Mad Dogs and Englishmen and to all of his earlier stuff for at least a couple of years. I was a huge fan of Joe Cocker, so what I saw didn’t bother me. A few years later You Are So Beautiful came out. He came back again and I started listening to him all over again. Then early on in my career, he let me open for him. We did a whole tour and he took very good care of me.

joe cocker.

joe cocker.

“One of the last times I saw Joe Cocker was in Aspen. He shouted out, ‘Hey Keb. How are you doing there?’ I was playing a solo show, so he said, ‘Still can’t afford a band, eh?’ There he was ragging on me. His wife was great, too – the sweetest woman and such a supporter of him.

“I’ve been listening to Joe Cocker my whole life, and every time I saw him sing, he sounded better. He was not declining. He just sang better every time. Listening to him, I would just be like, ‘Whoa.’

“Joe Cocker, to me… I mean, what a life. What a musical treasure for the world. What a life well lived. When I first met him, he was not a man without problems. He was an inebriated man who had fallen on the floor in front of me. But who had actually fallen was a giant, a genius, an icon. Throughout my life, he was one of the folks that showed me that you don’t judge people. You don’t judge people based on where they are at any moment in their life. You look at what they do and how they are. Joe Cocker, Dr. John and Charlie Musselwhite, people like that, have taught me that lesson in a huge way.

“I was never into drugs or anything like that. That was ever a problem for me so I never understood how it was a problem for anyone else. But I do understand what it means to be human, about what it means to fail and to get back up and be who you are despite the demons.

“So I thank Joe Cocker and I’m so grateful for him being in my life.”

ozzy, mavis, pryor and the blues

keb' mo'.

keb’ mo’.

At the onset his recent BLUESAmericana album, Keb’ Mo’ offers his latest assessment of the blues.

Admittedly, the song stylist born Kevin Moore has spent much of his career refining a musical voice where the blues goes hand-in-hand with pop, soul and, yes, Americana. It’s a sound that has established Mo’ as one of the most popular and visible faces of contemporary blues music. Such a voice has won three Grammys and, come Feb. 8, could earn three more for BLUESAmericana alone.

But on the album-opening The Worst is Yet to Come, the blues turn traditional – at least, in terms of narrative. The storyline details a hapless man who loses his job, car, wife and dog in quick succession.

“Even the bedbugs up and run,” he sings over a churchy, country groove.

“Pretty much I talked to these songs,” said Mo’, who returns to Lexington for an Opera House performance on Wednesday. “I sort of had conversations with them. It was like,                                                                                                                                                                                                     ‘Alright, songs. What you want to do? Where do you want to go? Who are you? What do you want to say and how do you want to say it?’ And what is interesting is I worked backwards on this record.

“Normally you go in and make a track for the record, then you sing on top of it. But on this one, I sang first and got the tempo. The vocal was always the first piece. That way the song was the thing that was always key. I didn’t want anything to get in the way of it. I monitored everything on it so as not to compromise the story in any kind of way.”

But there is also curious inspiration at work on the song, one that borrows the blues from an unobvious source. The verse about losing the wife and dog? That was triggered by a recording from the landmark comedian Richard Pryor.

“One of his albums has a skit where his woman is leaving him and Richard is begging, ‘Baby, please don’t go.’ Then after she’s gone, the dog starts talking to him. He says, ‘Richard, I love you but I’m going with her. She feeds me three square meals a day but you’re a little tardy with the food. But I’m going to leave you a little something on the floor to remember me by.’ So that’s a song where I worked backwards so I could start a story of my own. I just love that skit so much.”

Already a bluesman with considerable crossover appeal, Mo’ found himself part of numerous tribute projects in 2014. Some were grounded in the blues, others sent him to an entirely different stylistic world.

Among the latter was MusiCares benefit honoring Ozzy Osbourne and longtime pal Jeff Greenberg in May. The event placed him onstage not with one of his blues/soul contemporaries, but with Metallica.

“I was the quietest guy there,” Mo’ said with a laugh. “The event was all about recovery from substance abuse and those kinds of things. I resonate so much with all of the spiritual concepts that come through the 12 step program. I just tend to gravitate toward those people from the spiritual side, not necessarily from the substance side. I come from the side where sometimes there is nothing you can do but to lean on the spirits to get through the things you can’t control in your life.”

More recently – and, perhaps, more expectedly – was an all-star November tribute celebrating the 75th birthday of gospel/blues empress Mavis Staples that placed Mo’ in the company of Bonnie Raitt, Taj Mahal and Gregg Allman, among many others.

“Oh, that was a blast. That was a super blast. When Mavis calls on you… man, that’s like going to the White House. It was during one of those times of the year that I would have rather been at home. But they said, ‘This is for Mavis.’ So I said, ‘Yes. I’m coming.’

“I mean, there is no other answer. I don’t care who you are. There is no other answer but ‘yes’ when people ask you to come out for Mavis Staples.”

Keb’ Mo’ performs at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 28 at the Lexington Opera House, 401 W. Short. Tickets are $45.50. Call (859) 233-3535, (800) 745-3000 or go to

in performance: ken vandermark

ken vandermark.

ken vandermark.

Ken Vandermark wound up a five day, four city Kentucky residency last night at the University of Kentucky’s John Jacob Niles Center for American Music armed with only three instruments. There were no collaborators to shoot ideas off of and no rhythm section to serve as a backdrop (or safety net). The performance simply presented the veteran Chicago composer, bandleader and reed specialist playing in a totally improvised (“that means I don’t know what I’m going to do”) and unamplified environment. Alone.

If that suggests a sterile concert environment or, in the opposite extreme, an opportunity for very capable improvisational skills to become a weighty indulgence, rest assured that neither surfaced. Performing two untitled improvised pieces each on tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone and B-flat clarinet, Vandermark conjured music that sounded predominantly composed (it wasn’t) and soloed with an exactness that revealed remarkable variance and unexpected harmony. In doing so, the openly free passages sounded all the more volcanic.

Opening on tenor, Vandermark discovered a cyclical riff that he interspersed with short jabs of boppish counterpoint that created, in effect, a solo conversation. A brief turn of classically hued clarinet followed before Vandermark turned to the beastly baritone.

Initially, he brought the instrument to life with puncturing, shotgun-like blasts played so briskly and with such respiratory-like voicing that the resulting music sounded like funk. Vandermark hardly came up for air during the improv, as well, making his playing sound as fluid as it was playful.

Returning to clarinet for a longer improv on clarinet that was dedicated to Pee Wee Russell, Vandermark unfurled the tune with torchy echoes of the blues. The music’s introspective nature soon gave way to potent wails and sweeps that strayed purposely from the blues without ever forsaking them.

A second baritone adventure opened with a suitably rustic drone but soon reached for registers far above the earthy tones usually associated with the instrument. The program then concluded where it began – on tenor sax. But this time the playing took off with galloping clusters of scorched riffs repeated like a mantra. Eventually, the music burst open with fractured runs, some almost melodic, bouncing madly as if they were ricocheting off each other.

Such was the vocabulary of three instruments and an improviser possessing the cunning to make each sing with immediacy and invention.

in performance: lee ann womack

Lee Ann Womack .

Lee Ann Womack .

“I don’t know if you’re in my living room or if I’m in yours,” remarked Lee Ann Womack last night as she took in the intimate but still sold out confines of the Norton Center for the Arts’ Weisiger Theatre.

It was an understandable estimation as the majority of the country star’s Central Kentucky concerts over the years have been relegated to show opening sets at Rupp Arena. Here, she was able to carry on in a more conversational manner. For instance, the living room comment earned a quick reply of “Yours” from an audience member, to which Womack answered back, “In that case, welcome.” Just try that kind of bonding at Rupp and see how far you get.

The intimacy of the Weisiger environment also suited the largely traditional aspects of Womack’s music, especially the Americana slant of her 2014 Grammy-nominated album, The Way I’m Livin’.

Easily her best reviewed recording in a decade, The Way I’m Livin’ was featured prominently during the 1 ¾ hour performance. Specifically, that translated into a setlist that boasted 9 of the record’s 13 tunes. Highlights included electric and sleekly spiritual readings of Mindy Smith’s All His Saints, Julie Miller’s Don’t Listen to the Wind and Western Kentucky native Chris Knight’s Send It on Down along with the equally light but decidedly more earthbound tone of Bruce Robison’s Nightwind and the Neil Young Harvest heartbreaker Out on the Weekend.

But the Livin’ song that set off the biggest spark proved to be Hayes Carll’s Chances Are, a quietly solemn country wailer that showcased the vivid sadness, clarity and strength of Womack’s still-effortless singing.

There were also loads of career defining hits that predated the selections from The Way I’m Livin’, including the Dolly Parton-esque show opener Never Again, Again and a slice of honky tonk despair with a sense of weariness sewn right into its title: Twenty Years and Two Husbands Ago.

But it was the newer material that provided a sense of subtle urgency, if not complete reinforcement, to Womack’s traditionalist roots while enhancing an overall performance intimacy that seemed to delight audience and artist alike.

in performance: miranda lambert/justin moore/raelynn

miranda lambert performing last night at rupp arena. herald-leader staff photo by rich copley.

miranda lambert performing last night at rupp arena. herald-leader staff photo by rich copley.

There were three clear instances last night at Rupp Arena that nicely defined the lasting crossover appeal of Miranda Lambert.

Probably a lot more bubbled within and briefly out pf the refreshingly steamlined show the newly-dirty blonde country singer put on for a hearty crowd of 13,500. There were rugged electric rockers like Kerosene and Baggage Claim that reflected much of the concert’s tempo as well as broad melodic strokes within songs like Over You that had more in common with the ‘80s pop of Phil Collins than anything that even today could pass for country music. But three times during the course of the night, the distinction and depth of Lambert’s performance became startlingly clear.

One instance came midway through her 90 minute set via the 2011 tune Mama’s Broken Heart. The title suggested country tradition. But last night’s performance presented Lambert’s seven-member band constructing a neo-reggae groove that simmered until the singer delivered a suckerpunch chorus full of comparatively punkish vigor. The resulting music wasn’t country, but the mash-up certainly rattled the concert’s anthemic country-pop core.

Another surfaced with the 2009 hit The House That Built Me, a slice of domestic and reflective pathos that would have turned shallow and sentimental in less capable hands. While Lambert is far from the most technically dazzling singer in the world, she proved a powerfully intuitive one here by conjuring a sense of very credible country drama with vocals full of torchy reserve and elegance.

Opening acts Justin Moore and RaeLynn preceded Lambert with sets that differed remarkably. Moore was the traditionalist of the evening, able to turn what could have been an audience pandering cover of Home Sweet Home (by that classic country outfit Motley Crue) into a slice of rural solace that, stylistically, sounded unexpectedly honest. The power ballad If Heaven Weren’t So Far Away was similarly winning. But the more amped up the set got, the more generic and shopworn Moore sounded.

RaeLynn was all about chirpy Disney-style pop, right down to her version of All About the Bass. The set was proficient but innocuous – a perhaps fine G-rated outing for kids attending their first concert, but strictly empty calorie pop to most anyone else. But country? This? Forget it.

That brings us to the evening’s other point of clarity. Three songs into RaeLynn’s set, a family arriving late to my left took in roughly five minutes of the sugary songs on display, turned my way and asked, ‘Where’s Miranda?’ Without waiting for a reply, the entourage left and returned five minutes before Lambert’s set began. Now that’s star power.

(To view Rich Copley’s photo gallery of the concert, click here.)

stevie wonder to bring ‘keys of life’ to louisville.

stevie wonder.

stevie wonder.

One of the most celebrated pop-soul sounds of any generation is heading to Kentucky. On March 27, Stevie Wonder will play the KFC Yum! Center for a very rare Bluegrass area concert appearance.

The show is one of 11 spring dates that extends Wonder’s 2014 Songs in the Key of Life Performance Tour. As the title suggests, the tour is built around a full concert performance of the singer’s multi-Grammy-winning 1976 album Songs in the Key of Life. But reviews of last year’s shows reveal the setlist also includes other celebrated Wonder classics, including Superstition, Living for the City and Higher Ground.

Tickets for the Louisville show go on sale at 10 a.m. Jan. 24 through,, the KFC Yum! Center box office, all Ticketmaster outlets and phone at (800) 745-3000. Tickets will cost $36.50-$144.50.

Released in the fall of 1976, Songs in the Key of Life is widely considered the critical and commercial zenith of Wonder’s career, having been the last of four albums (1972’s Talking Book, 1973’s Inner Visions and 1974’s Fulfillingness’ First Finale were the others) that modernized his popular Motown pop sound of the ‘60s to include a more urban-embracing urgency for the ‘70s. Still, it produced several huge pop hits, including Isn’t She Lovely, I Wish and As. The album also won four Grammys in 1977, including Album of the Year (where it beat out Peter Frampton’s Frampton Comes Alive, Boz Scaggs’ Silk Degrees, George Benson’s Breezin’ and Chicago’s Chicago X).

Wonder has infrequently played Louisville over the decades. He performed in Lexington at Rupp Arena only once, in September 1986.

in performance: jorma kaukonen/lowell levinger

jorma kaukonen.

jorma kaukonen.

Sitting side by side last night at the Lyric Theatre for the first 2015 taping of the WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour, Jorma Kaukonen and Lowell Levinger couldn’t help but be viewed as contemporaries of each other. Kaukonen was the folk-blues guitarist that helped light the psychedelic fuse of the Jefferson Airplane 50 years ago. Clevinger (“Banana” to his fans) was the bluegrass reared artist that served as lead guitarist for folk-rock favorites The Youngbloods up until their demise in 1973 (the same year the Airplane was grounded).

Both artists, however, returned to their primarily acoustic roots long ago. Last night, armed with only one instrument each and (save for one tune we will discuss in a moment) no accompanists, their well-schooled Americana pedigrees warmed up an otherwise blustery winter evening. Each had new recordings to promote that are still a month away from release, but their performances nonetheless possessed a welcome familiarity.

Kaukonen pulled four of his five tunes from his forthcoming Ain’t In No Hurry. While the set was novel only in the conspicuous absence of songs by one of the guitarist’s most frequented inspirations, the Rev. Gary Davis, the gospel-folk-blues measure of Kaukonen’s acoustic playing sounded largely unchanged since the ’70s.

The blues staples Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out and Brother Can You Spare a Dime possessed the leisurely sway of Hesitation Blues (another standard Kaukonen has essentially made his own over the decades). On the other hand, In My Dreams and Ain’t in No Hurry’s title tune (both new originals), quietly opted for an almost romantic glimpse of folkish fancy that recalled Kaukonen’s 1974 solo debut album, Quah.

The guitarist also stepped back in time for an encore version of Blind Blake’s Never Happen No More that retained all the lyrically hapless and musically greasy charm Hot Tuna draped the song in 45 years ago.

Levinger split his four songs between blues-reared reflections from the recent Down to the Roots album (Married to the Blues, Love is a Five Letter Word) and retooled favorites from an upcoming record of Youngbloods tunes (Get Together, Darkness Darkness). WoodSongs seemed a little overly determined to pump up Get Together as a reborn peace anthem by making it a collaborative performance that included Kaukonen, host Michael Johnathon and a small entourage of singers and instrumentalists. Well intended as the summit was, the end result smothered the tune’s inherent and enduring simplicity.

Far more appealing was Levinger’s playing on a 5 string tenor guitar shaped like a mandolin (and largely tuned like one). The resonating sound he conjured – a rustic mix of steel guitar and banjo – was wondrously rootsy indeed.

the elder jorma

jorma kaukonen.

jorma kaukonen.

For over a half century, Jorma Kaukonen has mastered the art of acting one’s age.

As a roots music enthusiast in his early 20s, he absorbed the songs and fingerstyle guitar inspirations of the Rev. Gary Davis as the country awakened to a’60s folk boom.

When that generation plugged their music in as the decade progressed, Kaukonen joined in as co-founder of San Francisco’s cornerstone psychedelic band Jefferson Airplane and, eventually, its still-active blues-based offshoot, Hot Tuna.

In recent decades, though, the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer refocused on his initial folk and blues influences through more elemental lineups of Hot Tuna, his own expansive solo career and the guitar classes he oversees at his Fur Peace Ranch in Ohio.

Having turned 74 two days before Christmas, Kaukonen is openly embracing his elder musical persona with a new solo record called Ain’t in No Hurry. Due out Feb. 17, the album is a collection of new and old songs cut with new and old friends. But the end result is a musical portrait the guitarist views as being very up-to-the-minute.

“Everything I do tends to be reflected in terms of what is going on, more or less, in my life and where I am at that moment,” said Kaukonen, who will perform for the first 2015 taping of the WoodSong Old Time Radio Hour on Monday. “So for me, this record is the project of a 74 year old guy.”

Ain’t in No Hurry was produced by Larry Campbell, guitarist and collaborator for such greats as Bob Dylan, Elvis Costello, Emmylou Harris, Levon Helm and many others, as well as a participant on many of Kaukonen’s most recent recordings.

“I’ve worked with Larry on a number of projects – both my solo records and with Hot Tuna as well as some stuff of his, too. Larry is a multi-instrumentalist, but he is also an adept and creative producer. As a producer, he goes inside the artist – in this case, me – and it’s like he’s known you all your artistic life. He doesn’t try to change you. He tries to make you sound like you. It’s like we’ve always been in a band together.”

Ain’t in No Hurry sports several new original songs that poetically hint at mortality (In My Dreams, Seasons in the Field) along with folk-blues staples that have been part of Kaukonen’s performance repertoire for as much as 50 years but are just now finding a place on one of his records (Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out).

The big surprise, though, is a reworking of a vintage Kaukonen tune, Bar Room Crystal Ball, that first appeared on the 1975 Hot Tuna album Yellow Fever. But unlike the heavy electric cast of the original version, the tune now takes on a lighter country air colored by Campbell’s pedel steel playing and Kaukonen’s scholarly fingerpicking. It also enlists help from Kaukonen’s longtime running buddy in Hot Tuna and Jefferson Airplane, bassist Jack Casady.

“A lot of people listen to our stuff, whether it was with Jefferson Airplane or Hot Tuna, and they tend to interpret things through an interesting filter,” Kaukonen said. “Sometimes they come up with meanings to lyrics I’ve written that just have me going, ‘What planet are these people from?’ And that’s not a criticism. I find, as an artist, if somebody likes your song, it doesn’t matter what they hear. As long as they like it, that’s okay. But Bar Room Crystal Ball was a very personal song done in a very bombastic way on Yellow Fever. As such, it was one song I always wanted to do so you could actually hear all the lyrics.

“You know, at some point, you just can’t avoid the phrase ‘at my age.’ Well, at my age, people ask me, ‘Do you ever think about retiring?’ And I always say, ‘So I can do what? Play the guitar more?’ The thing is I’m so fortunate that I’m still healthy enough to do this kind of stuff. The traveling isn’t fun. The glamour years of air travel are long gone. But whether it’s me and Jack or me with any of my buddies, when we hit the stage and start playing, it’s still as magical as it ever was.”

WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour featuring Jorma Kaukonen and Lowell “Banana” Levinger. 7 p.m. Jan. 12 at the Lyric Theatre, 300 East Third. Tickets: $10 public, $5 students. Call (859) 252-8888.

critic’s pick 256: leonard cohen, ‘live in dublin’

leoanrd cohen live in dublin“The present’s not that pleasant,” sings Leonard Cohen on Darkness, an unassuming and perhaps unintentional centerpiece tune to Live in Dublin. “Just a lot of things to do.”

As poetic and sleekly disturbing as ever, Cohen remains both the king and jester of his domain. A restless troubadour and distinguished elder who turned 79 just a few weeks after this performance was given in 2013, he has completely renewed himself over the past seven years as a concert artist after a prolonged absence from the stage. Live in Dublin is his latest and most vivid snapshot from the road – a three CD, 30 song account of a single Irish concert along with an accompanying DVD of the show.

Initially, one might ask if such a package was even necessary. Cohen issued a double-disc live recording in 2009 (Live in London) and a single disc companion in 2011 (Songs From the Road) that introduced his new performance guise. Live in Dublin replicates much of the repertoire from the earlier albums and utilizes essentially the same band. Even the blue-hued cover art from Live in Dublin seems purposely fashioned after Live in London.

So why the massive and seemingly redundant follow-up? Well, for starters, Live in Dublin augments the set list with songs from Cohen’s 2012 studio record, Old Ideas – arguably, his best set of new songs in three decades. It was from Old Ideas that Darkness came. Also from the record we have the bluesy prayer for repentance Amen (“I’m listening… I’m listening so hard that it hurts”) and the powerfully contemplative lullaby Come Healing that views mankind largely as a pack of universal bystanders (“none of us deserving of the cruelty or the grace”).

Cohen reflected heavily about mortality on Old Ideas. That might make those songs seem removed from such early and outwardly intimate fare as Suzanne, Chelsea Hotel #2 or I’m Your Man, all of which are delivered with sagely subtlety on Live on Dublin. But since Cohen has adopted such a slight, sweeping but richly orchestrated sound from his touring band, boundaries between new and old music are blurred quite handsomely.

A beautiful case-in-point comes during the record’s third disc, which is devoted to the Irish concert’s encore tunes. There, the gentle Old Ideas scolding from God Going Home (“I’d love to speak with Leonard… he’s a lazy bastard living in a suit”) is paired with the vengeful and earthy doomsday rumination First We Take Manhattan (“I’m coming to reward them”).

Of course, romance isn’t fully suppressed amid the turmoil. Cohen brings down the curtain on the three hour Live in Dublin with a cover of Save the Last Dance For Me. But amid the samba-like sway of his band and his own bullfrog whisper of a voice, one senses the song’s inclusion is tongue-in-cheek, a tune to whistle as civilization crumbles.

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