Everybody knows this is a Cohen tribute to remember
Friday October 6th 2006
SOME may have questioned what a four-hour celebration of the music of Leonard Cohen was doing in the Dublin Theatre Festival. 'Came So Far For Beauty' doesn't have any plot or real drama, the only gesture to a set is its stunning lighting design, and the cast rarely speaks.
Instead, they sing the words of one of the world's greatest songsmiths like they are possessed and it is one more fabulous performance after the next a spellbound audience.
Line-ups don't get much more extraordinary than this.
Nick Cave opens proceedings and is followed by the likes of Lou Reed, The Handsome Family, Antony, Laurie Anderson, Beth Orton, Teddy Thompson, Jarvis Cocker and Gavin Friday, as they bring the old familiar songs such as 'A Thousand Kisses Deep', 'So Long, Marianne' and 'Stranger Song' to new life.
Everyone puts their own identifiable stamp on their song, with Reed turning his numbers into hard rock riffs, Anderson adding her carnival twist, and The Handsome Family sounding the closest to Cohen himself, but with their Gothic country trademark.
The sacred song of 'Hallelujah' is wasted in a skittishly jokey version performed by Mary Margaret O'Hara and Friday. But Friday redeems himself by dedicating the impossibly timely 'Everybody Knows' to a certain Bertie.
The second half manages to outshine the first, with faster and even more glorious highlights. Musical memories are made when the angular Cocker makes 'I Can't Forget' and 'Chelsea Hotel' his own, Orton rings true with 'Sisters of Mercy' and the evening's consummate backing duo, Christensen and Batalla, take centre stage to bring emotional power to 'Anthem'.
The real star of the night, though, is Antony. Singing as if possessed, his voice soars over 'If It Be Your Will' and the world outside the Point ceases to exist. SOPHIE GORMAN
Came So Far for Beauty