Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Leonard Cohen: First he took Manchester
I expect that, by now, septuagenarian poet and songwriter Leonard Cohen will have his feet up, having completed a remarkable series of gigs in Europe, largely, it seems, to supplement his pension after being ripped off by his accountant. It was quite a coup for the Manchester International Festival to book him for a series of concerts in the intimate surroundings of the City's Opera House, especially since the festival is due to begin, er, next year. One in the eye for the Scouse capital of kulchur, methinks.
I was there for one of these concerts, with 'er indoors, who has always been a big Laughing Len fan, courtesy of The Guardian. They advertised a free prize draw, and, extraordinarily, I won- so, two prime £75 tickets on row D were mine.
We went with a friend, Rachel, who was going for the second time. She is a stalwart of the Len discussion forums, and we met up with some of her correspondents at the Deansgate pub beforehand where I learned that tickets were going for £400 on ebay. What a lovely bunch the Cohenites are - a man in a pinstripe suit bought me a drink before scurrying off to the venue, and afterwards, we had a great chat with some fans before they got their bus home.
The concert itself was fabulous, and I won't go into the detail here - you can read very good accounts at the Leonard Cohen files and at the Guardian. I was hugely impressed at the professionalism and intensity of the presentation. Despite the rather snide reference in the Guardian review, I thought Dino Soldo's energy and humour added a great deal to the band sound. The youngest people on stage were the sublime (Len's word) Webb Sisters, who judged their contribution perfectly. They were really impressive, especially when they took over the very moving song If It Be Your Will. A really brilliant multi-instrumentalist band, and some very sensitive singing made this as good a show as it gets- one of the most memorable nights I've experienced in my concert-going career.