To my delight, I had an opportunity to see Leonard Cohen in Ghent on 20 August. By chance, I had looked him up on the internet in 2008 and found he was touring. I saw him at the O2 and was totally hooked by this magnetic, enigmatic and just plain amazing man. I was originally introduced to his music by my enlightened RE teacher in about 1970, who encouraged us to interpret Suzanne – ahead of his time, or what?! I was just too young to go to the IOW, to my deep regret.
Back to the concert – the weather was more than we could have hoped for – reminiscent (I imagine) of the IOW in 1970, where you can see a breeze ruffling the girls’ hair – Hattie and Charley were both gorgeous with their hair gently blowing back. Another highlight for me was being in the front row (I deserved it after battling with my ticket purchase in another language!). On stage, I could actually see Mr. C moving around, interacting with the perfectly balanced band. On the screen I could see everyone’s expressions and details of their faces – from Sharon’s very curly lashes to Dino’s and Rafael’s grins. Best of all – Leonard seemed really smiley and happy to perform, and I could see in his expressions his often-mentioned deep regard for the talents of his team: OK they’re his songs, but they’re made doubly perfect by the arrangements, performances and personalities which complement his voice, style and charisma.
He performs night after night, but makes the songs new and heartfelt each time, no hint of boredom or over–familiarity. Each song was as special and sparkling as when I first heard them in 2008. He really puts everything into each performance, as does each member of the band, to make a cohesive, dynamic and dazzling experience. Wonderful new songs made the night extra special. But only three – we need a CD-full !!
What a venue – cathedral contrasting with the stage and technology, the almost-full noon rising over Ghent’s splendid and varied architecture around the square. At one point the clouds formed a cross shape across the moon.
But the food….I’m vegetarian. Oh joy – pasta with meat or meat. And drinks. Wine would have been nice. And the toilets….I mistakenly thought the bit in the middle housed washbasins, and walked round looking for a mirror. I was lucky not to get arrested….! I loved the toilet arrangements at the break – it was like a sheep pen – the guys at the entrance taking their 50 cents per person, and everyone corralled in the middle, fighting for a vacated tardis.
I started reading the posts on the Forum a while ago, and was fascinated by the wonderful personalities and range of views thereon. I read the new stuff most days when I probably should be working. I’ve only posted a few comments – and been disappointed that no one’s replied. I showed up at the meetup last Friday in time to nearly miss everyone on their way to the sound check. But thank you Maarten for making me feel welcome (and for the name tag). Antoine – it was great to chat to you. Jaramilla (sorry for the spelling) (and husband) - it was good to meet the person behind the intelligent posts on the Forum, I saw Arlene and Jarkko from a distance. And great to meet Wendy (and Tony) who, like me, prefers to take in the atmosphere and music quietly and deeply, savoring the sights and sounds, trying to get that illusive perfect photo of Leonard Cohen, rather than screaming ear-splitting woo–woos, and singling along loudly and tunelessly!
Finally, and very personally, Leonard – if you’re reading this - please do a concert in Hydra – there must be a square big enough, perhaps under some plane trees. Retsina on tap would be an added bonus. And my top favorite songs are (you’ll need a violinist): the Window, The Guests, Coming Back to You, Tonight Will be Fine, Lady Midnight, One of us Cannot be Wrong and True Love Leaves No Traces. OK that’s seven, and I could go on….. I can dream!!
London 2008, Brighton 2008, Liverpool 2009, Ghent 2010, Stuttgart 2010.
Ghent x 2 - 2012, London 2013, Brighton 2013....