I Guess You Go For Nothing, If You Really Want To Go That Far

Before I close off this account of my travels, I feel it’s only fair to include some entirely gratiutous statements about the “highlights” of my month spent meandering around two big countries. People keep asking me questions about this sort of stuff, so … I’ll have a go at boiling down a whole month of my life into a few short “best of” moments.

The Performances

Best Concert:

This is actually the thing that people ask me most about. “You’ve seen 12 concerts … which was the best one?” But, the reality is that every night is special in its own way, and there really isn’t any one performance that outshines all others in every regard. So … maybe it’s a cop-out, but I’d have to say that they were all the best 🙂 . To say anything else seems to somehow diminish the experience.

Most Unexpected Leonard Cohen Song:

Leonard’s unexpected solo performance of Night Comes On (click to hear: audio thanks to Maarten Massa) at one of the Auckland shows. So far this is the only performance of this song on the 2008-2009-2010 tour and pretty much came as a complete surprise to me … and to the LC fan community. In fact, when I put up my set list, I think some people thought I was making it up 🙂

Most Unexpected Leonard Cohen Monologue:

Rafael’s bizarre introduction in Perth. Interestingly this seems to have become a staple for the last performances of the world tour. Who would have thought that the terms “Leonard Cohen” and “Aryan Brotherhood” would ever be associated in *any* way with one another 🙂

Almost as unexpected were Leonard’s humorous remarks about Wellington’s “Colossal Squid”.

Favourite Leonard Cohen Performance:

Well, it’s hard to nominate just one … but certainly some of the LC solo performances of Avalanche and A Singer Must Die were quite stunning moments during the concerts. Also, being a bit of a lyrics-spotter, the variant version of the poem A Thousand Kisses Deep offered up by Leonard in Perth also stands as a memorable performance.

Favourite Support-Act Moment:

A tie between: (1) the moment during her first performance (Brisbane) where Clare Bowditch realised to her extreme and genuine surprise that she was being shown up on the big screens … and (2) Linda Bull’s performance of Everything’s Turning To White at Hanging Rock.

Actually, to be honest there were a lot of other great Clare Bowditch moments too — I just wish she’d played my favourite of her songs (You Looked So Good) more than once during the tour.

Best Sound:

Rod Laver Arena … it was the only big and boxy room that Leonard played which didn’t *sound* like a big and boxy room.

Newest-Looking Venue:

Adelaide Entertainment Centre … well at least from the outside it looks nice and new.

If you watch the nice illuminated canopy for long enough you get to see a nice little light show (for free!)

Most Spectacular Venue:

Hanging Rock. Enough said … go look at the photos if you don’t believe me 🙂

The Fans

Most Creative Fan Adulation:

Bev’s soft-toy kangaroo, Matilda, lobbed up on stage at Brisbane only to be picked up by Leonard and gently placed on Rafael’s drum platform behind him.

Hopefully Matilda has found a home in the (now considerable) collection of soft toys which have graced Leonard’s stage

Most Persistent Fan Adulation:

Helena’s laminated A4 Heart banner, which she brought to both the Adelaide and Hanging Rock concerts. Helena was such a trooper … she literally waved this banner above her head at the end of every song Leonard played.

Most Inexplicable Fan Adulation:

Dog Boy from Hobart

Biggest Fan Gathering:

ania’s front room following the first of the Melbourne concerts. I don’t know how many avid Cohen fans we jammed into that one room — I lost count. But there was a lot of love for Our Man crammed into a small area, along with plenty of Aussie wine and beer 🙂

My Caffeine Dependence

Most Extreme Sleep Deprivation:

Following the Brisbane concert, I spent about three hours typing up a concert report (sitting on a bathroom floor, so Cathy could get to sleep in the next room). I eventually got to sleep around 3AM. Unfortunately I hadn’t taken into account the fact that, because Queensland doesn’t have daylight savings, their dawn at this time of year comes at something like 5:30AM. And my room had nice, but not very opaque, curtains on the massive East-facing windows …

Best Quality Coffee:

Federal Coffee Palace, Melbourne GPO. I initially stopped there to meet some old friends for coffee … but that quickly became two coffees, and then … well a whole afternoon’s worth of coffees.

Best Place To Get Coffee:

Midnight Espresso, Wellington (Cuba Street). If I lived in Wellington, New Zealand *this* would be one of my regular haunts. It’s kind of like a cross between a funky cafe and a bohemian bar. And most of the food is vegetarian … what’s not to love?

Most Expensive Place To Get Coffee:

The $5 mug of black coffee I bought at a cafe in Australia Square, Sydney wins this award. Although (surprisingly) this was closely followed by expensive coffee at a cafe in Salamanca Square, Hobart.

Everything Else

Best Place To Stay:

Fountainside Hotel, Hobart. I have already sung the praises of this hotel in the blog writeup for Hobart … but it really was a great place to stay, and excellent value for money (something I was certainly appreciating by that part of the trip :-)).

Be warned, however, that staying in a hotel with cheap and tasty buffet breakfasts can lead to chronic over-eating. I’m just saying.

Most Unlikely Meteorological Phenomemon:

Total calm on the top of Mount Victoria, Wellington. Wellington as a city is almost synonymous with windy weather. Imagine my surprise, then, when I drove up to the very top of Mount Victoria (high up above the city) only to experience one of the ultra-rare days when there is absolutely no wind at all … I’m not sure whether to feel blessed or cheated 🙂

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