Tunes and Tix: Cohen’s brilliant 'Old Ideas'

2013-03-01T00:00:00Z Tunes and Tix: Cohen’s brilliant 'Old Ideas'Tim Shellberg Times Correspondent
March 01, 2013 12:00 am  • 

In the popular music strata, only a small handful of artists have remained relevant as they cross their 70-year threshold.

Sure, the likes of Paul McCartney (now 71), the Rolling Stones (Mick and Keith turning 70 this year) and The Beach Boys (Mike Love? 71) can still fill auditoriums and arenas within seconds of tickets going on sale. But their days of relevance, despite many an effort and the occasional shining moment, have long since past.

Last year saw two of the greatest songsmiths of the last half-century – Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen – adding to their near-peerless catalogs with great sets, the former with “Tempest” and the latter with “Old Ideas.”

For the 72-year-old Dylan, “Tempest” was merely a continuation of the artistic resurgence that started with 1997’s “Time out of Mind” and continues with sets such as “Love and Theft” and “Modern Times” but, after several listens, paled in comparison to the previous sets despite a few stellar moments.

Seventy-eight year-old Cohen’s “Ideas,” however, is nothing short of spectacular.

A renowned poet in his native Canada for years before he threw his hat in the musical ring with 1967’s classic “Songs of Leonard Cohen,” Cohen has contemplated matters of the spirit, matters of the heart, matters of the flesh and matters of the world around him over the course of the last near five decades.

Cohen’s recorded output has been sparse – “Ideas” is his 12th original set in his 45-year career – and not every outing was greeted with the fanfare that “Ideas” met with upon its release early last year. Yet hindsight has been good to his alleged duds – his lesser efforts are pretty much everyone else’s triumphs.

Given the near eight year wait for “Ideas,” it’s no surprise critics and Cohen loyalists tripped over each other to exude the album’s praise. Yet the 10 songs that make up Cohen’s newest “Ideas” were certainly worth the wait. The spiritual and carnal conflicts remain ongoing, but Cohen’s insight is as poignant and refreshing here as anything he’s done over the course of the last four decades plus.

Leonard Cohen, 8 p.m. March 13, The Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State St., Chicago. $119.46-$277. FYI: (312) 462-6300, THECHICAGOTHEATRE.COM


For more information, contact the venues or ticket sales agencies listed below. Unless otherwise indicated, all shows are all-ages.

Johnny Marr, April 25, Metro (18 and older, METROCHICAGO.COM)

Rush, June 28, First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre (LIVENATION.COM)

Son Volt, June 7, Park West (18 and older, JAMUSA.COM)

Glen Hansard, June 9, Metro (18 and older, METROCHICAGO.COM)

Brad Paisley, Chris Young, May 11, First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre (LIVENATION.COM)

Alkaline Trio, May 30-31, Metro (May 31 show 18 and older, METROCHICAGO.COM)

HIM, May 8, House of Blues (HOB.COM)

Paper Route, June 1, Schubas (21 and older, SCHUBAS.COM)

The opinions expressed solely are those of the writer. He can be reached at

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