'On Tour with Leonard Cohen' presents a picture of the singing poet

Randall Roberts
Contact ReporterLos Angeles Times Pop Music Critic

A selection of Sharon Robinson's 'On Tour with Leonard Cohen' photos are in a Morrison Hotel Gallery exhibit

One of the most beguiling images featured in "On Tour with Leonard Cohen," the new book of photos by singer Sharon Robinson, captures songwriter-poet Cohen in a laundromat in Ontario, Canada. He stands before a washing machine in profile, wearing a black overcoat, black fedora, black pants and black shoes, feeding coins into the slots like a funeral director between burials.

This man, who penned the words "Maybe there's a God above/ But all I've ever learned from love/ Was how to shoot at someone who out drew you" in "Hallelujah," doing a load of darks.

Like many of the intimate iPhone shots taken by Robinson over five years while touring with Cohen, they show a singular artist, nearly always in a suit and hat, exploring the world making music. In snaps he's eating fish and chips, sipping coffee, riding the subway, preparing for his memorable 2009 sunset slot at Coachella, at times contemplative, others with an infectious smile.

Who can blame him? After all, he's still touring to grand ovations at 80. His most recent album, "Popular Problems," captures him in ragged voice but sharpened mind, wry and witty here, meditative and calm there, with longtime collaborator Robinson offering typically seductive counterpoint.

Equally revealing images of Robinson, bandmates and friends document concerts throughout Europe and North America. A selection of Robinson's "On Tour with Leonard Cohen" photos are featured in an exhibit at the Morrison Hotel Gallery inside West Hollywood's Sunset Marquis.

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