Time for a guest post, methinks. Here is a review of a recent concert by the one and only Leonard Cohen. I wasn’t lucky enough to be there myself, but the pseudonymous Miss Lemon certainly was, and here are her reflections on the performance.
Merveilleux, superbe, meraviglioso, di sogno – I have run out of English superlatives to even try to begin to describe the masterclass that was Leonard Cohen’s Old Ideas concert (NG Arena 8 September 2013). It’s not often that you can put the words magical and Birmingham in the same sentence (spoken as a Brummie) but this was one such occasion.
My initial introduction to the venerable man was as a teenager in the mid-70s. Whilst my parents and I sat downstairs probably watching something like Family at War, upstairs my slightly older, and much more in touch with her poetic side, teenage sister would allow the, as I/we heard it then, drones of Leonard Cohen to seep through the ceiling, much to the familial annoyance below. However, sometime later intrigued as to quite what this dirge-like music was, whilst Sis was back at school (I was fortunate to have longer school holidays), I listened to the Songs of Leonard Cohen and was bewitched by the, as I now realise, legend that is Leonard.
I first saw Mr Cohen back in the early ‘80s – a memorable and unexpectedly good-humoured concert – but nothing could have prepared me for Sunday’s dreamlike experience. His voice even more distinctive than I remember it and now ‘aged into a worn leather bass’. An audience whose ages ranged from early 20s to late 70s filled the cavernous halls of the NG Arena in Birmingham. A large number of men of a certain age, not all with balding pates and ponytails, were adorned with Cohen fedoras and the first vision on the stage was that of all of the band wearing fedoras so that immediate identification of the great man himself was made a little difficult, which brought a wry smile to the assembled throng in the forum.
His nine-piece band, among them a glorious violin virtuoso, proved more than suitable playmates. An appealing alchemy of Leonard at his self-deprecating best enchanting us with songs old and new, the beautiful and haunting version of Alexandra Leaving sung by Sharon Robinson – even after three hours, like a bird on the wire, hey why not ask for more?
The esteemed Mr Cohen – modest and most generous of spirit – age has not diminished his ability to pen glorious words and sublime songs and to send 10,000 people home with a smile which would last even longer than his concert, nor has it dimmed the twinkle in his eye. He was indeed ‘born with the gift of a golden voice’.