Following an operatic staging of Samson and Delilah with a reverential Leonard Cohen show isn't quite The Barber of Seville on the scale of biblical inside jokes, but it's close. Themed "Old Ideas," after his 2012 album of the same name, the spring- and summertime circuit opened in March with six weeks of every-other-day performances across North America by the Montreal-born language legend and music mystic; it closes in August, a month shy of his 79th birthday, in Oslo, Norway, wrapping 16 dates that will take him on an Old World crusade of Western Europe, Poland, Prague, Slovenia, Austria and Croatia.
Cohen resumed touring five years ago, ending a five-year sequester in Los Angeles' Mount Baldy Buddhist monastery, meaning his eighth decade on Earth has been evenly split between rigorous performance schedules and Zen meditations — two practices that aren't as far apart as they seem, he told The New York Times in 2009. "The older I get, the surer I am that I'm not running the show," Cohen said then, and Old Ideas (Columbia) kicks off with a song-long underscore of that sentiment. "Going Home," a wryly self-deprecating piece of third-person mockery by his controlling puppet-master muse, is still Cohen through and through: "I love to speak with Leonard/ He's a sportsman and a shepherd/ He's a lazy bastard living in a suit," it begins, going on to crush his dreams of writing anthems of forgiving, manuals for living with defeat: "I want him to be certain that he doesn't have a burden/ That he doesn't need a vision/ That he only has permission to do my instant bidding/ Which is to say what I have told him/ To repeat." "The Future," in other words, is the past, and "the little Jew who wrote the Bible" — who saw the nations rise and fall, heard their stories, heard them all — has lived long enough to know everything he doesn't. Tickets $60-$275. — Noah Bonaparte Pais