It is not often (or ever, really) during a Spin concert review that I get teary and comment out loud, "Oh my god!" but the coverage of Best Set: Leonard Cohen tore at my insides. Coachella, that evergrowing-in-popularity music and arts festival in Indio, Ca, was this weekend. Spin has a nice recap of the bests and worsts from all three days, including Best Personality (Morrissey), Best Encore (Paul McCartney) and Worst Stage Banter (We Are Scientists), among many others. I'm not sure if my emotional reaction to Best Set was to the report of a crowd singing back to Cohen in delight, Cohen's tearful response to the singing, the combination of the two or if I just have a special place in my heart for euphoric old men. Whatever the case, the live performance and crowd interaction seemed magical.
Again, this confirms the point and power of live music, a topic I can never let slide when I hear about it. Bob Lefsetz had a similar experience this weekend while watching Chris Isaak (really? ok...) that jolted his faith in the power of live music and the overreliance of the industry on recorded music. We can all remember an instance of jaw dropping bliss from our own concert-going adventures, but Lefsetz puts it into words in a very poignant way:
"Maybe music is something you hear live as opposed to a concoction perfected in a studio. Maybe it's supposed to live and breathe as opposed to being perfected to the point of sterility. Maybe that's why we tuned out. Auto-tune...
Life is for living. It's not something that's got rules, that has to be done a certain way so a small elite of gatekeepers will approve.
You know the hit of a live show. The great ones are all different. Didn't the Grateful Dead prove this? The music washes over you and not only do you review your life memories, you make new ones, you can't help yourself, life is unfolding as you're standing there listening. You're catching the humans, wandering around in all their uniqueness... you're telling yourself HOW FUCKING GREAT IT IS TO BE ALIVE!
That's music's power. Don't you ever forget it."