Leonard Cohen at Colosseum at Caesars Palace
My heart twisted up inside Leonard Cohen’s first song, the waltzing “Dance Me to the End of Love.” And for the next three and a half hours, it never untwisted.
I caught the poet-singer on Dec. 10 at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace, the first of the last two nights on his three-year tour. It was a spiritually transcendent. Everything the black-fedora-wearing troubadour said sounded like a prayer, and his songs were a benediction.
He played every song I hoped he’d play (“Everybody Knows,” “The Future” ”Who By Fire”) and some more (“First We Take Manhattan,” “In My Secret Life”). Of course, there was ample time.
His is a music that builds a celestial universe around it, complete with a heaven and hell. For example, he sang “Hallelujah” and an angelic yellow-silver light illuminated the stage. When the song ended, the stage descended into a blood purple background and he sang the dark, desperate plea, “I’m Your Man.” It was like Cohen took us from the heaven of love to the hellish depths of it. And I was more than willing to follow.
By the second act, I was exhausted from the sheer effort of absorbing his music. I really don’t know how a 76-year-old man was able to perform that long. My only conclusion: supernatural powers. Although his world tour is now over, I’m dying to see him again. I can only hope that the singer is as immortal as his music. – Cindi Reed
The Dandy Warhols at Hard Rock Café
One half of the seminal rock documentary Dig!, Portland, Ore., foursome the Dandy Warhols play with the precision of a band that has been touring seemingly nonstop for the last decade. And yet Dec. 8 was the indie rockers’ first-ever Las Vegas show (and keyboardist Zia McCabe’s maiden voyage to Sin City). Playing at the Hard Rock Café on the Strip, the crowd of a few hundred was as passionately laid-back as the music’s ’90s vibe.
Every song was crisp, especially tracks from their 2000 album Thirteen Tales From Urban Bohemia, which included “Shakin,” “Horse Pills” and the popular “Bohemian Like You.” Their show-closing rendition of “The Little Drummer Boy” was easily the best version of this Christmas song I’ve ever heard, with great vocals from singer Courtney Taylor-Taylor.
At the end, McCabe thanked the crowd for making the night “so much better than we thought it would be.” It was a mutual love-fest. — Jason Harris
Passion Pit at House of Blues
On Dec. 9, indie “it” band Passion Pit played the most crowded show I’ve seen at House of Blues since electric-dance rock darling Chromeo took the stage in October.
The Cambridge, Mass.-based group nailed their hit song “The Reeling” early in the set. With four of the five members playing either keyboards or synthesizers, this easily could have turned into a schlocky updated ’80s night. And heavily produced vocals don’t normally lend themselves to good live performance, but lead singer Michael Angelakos proved that it can be done with a high level of competence and exuberance. “Little Secrets” had the crowd pumping fists in the air and chanting along with the band.
As Passion Pit left the stage, the audience chanted their name. Then I saw something that I’ve never before seen from a local crowd: The chant changed from “Passion Pit” to “Sleepyhead,” the name of the band’s other hit. Who says Vegas crowds aren’t enthusiastic and educated? The group came back out for a three-song encore, which included sing-along song “Eyes as Candles,” a cool modernized cover of The Cranberries’ “Dreams” and finally the desired “Sleepyhead.” It was a completely satisfying 15-song set. — J.H.