jorcx wrote:(A fan from Barcelona, travelling to see his favourite poet and singer)
Dear Cohenite friends, here is my chronicle of the long-awaited Friday the 13th in Dublin:
Wake up in the capital of Ireland with the first results of the day before vote which re-affirm the rebel character of the Irish with their NO to the European Treaty... Before the concert, we have a long and intense touristic day before us so in order to gather the required energy we have an acceptable and abundant early meal at our Bed & Breakfast. Once we get going, the first goal is a trip on the railway along the coast to Sandycove where the famous book “Ulysses” by James Joyce also commences and, three days to go before the festivity of Bloomsday, it is a good symbolic point to start. Myself, I was particularly interested in visiting what my guide said to be a nudist small beach (The Forty Foot Pool) and I even had considered skinny-dipping there in order to relax my nervous and euphoric state but the sky was menacing rain and the sea was rocky and getting brave so I resigned this idea... The place was certainly nice and indeed there was a group of old people in the water, but though I do not doubt that is s nudist spot in the good summer days, they were all equipped with their swimming suits and bathing caps. We go back to Dublin downtown and continue our visit to more or less all the typical places and have lunch at a famous and crowded Fish & Chips near the cathedral. Then, I wanted to go to The Brazen Head Pub which was supposed to be the central gathering point of Leonard Cohen fans from all over but at that hour in the afternoon I could not see much activity. Nonetheless, I could drink a fine and authentic Irish Coffee and my first Guinness so as to begin cheering myself up. Afterwards, it was obliged to visit the Guinness Storehouse where the beer itself is made, but sincerily what I was mostly interested in those moments besides the very interesting process of brewery was the house-made drink included in the price of the ticket and the panoramic vista from the seventh floor. Also, in a lower floor, there is a quality testing lab for professionals and also for visitors so on my way up and down, two more glasses of beer I drunk... It was four o’clock and the gates of the venue would open very shortly, so I could not keep from getting more excited and impatient. We took a taxi to the hotel, a quick shower and an attempt at a nap (the famous “siesta” in Spanish) until quarter past five, just when I receive a SMS message from my friends Antonio and Chema: “We have seen Leonard Cohen at the soundcheck!”. I was already late, so we hurried up and meet them all at the entrance. At last I was where I had to be!
The gardens of the Kilmainham Hospital are very nice but certainly bigger than I had suspected. We already knew it was an open-air event but somehow I imagined a kind of smaller courtyard. Not the case, since that was an enormous space surrounded by fences and several bars, parades and pic-nic wooden tables. Our first obsession was the merchandising stand where we bought some of the T-Shirts. I was wearing mine from the previous tour fifteen years ago so it was a good time for it to be replaced. Then let us go for beers, what else, and even a bottle of champagne which we shared all of us, the six of the Catalan brigade. I knew of the English tradition of queuing but it seems it is also rooted here in Ireland or maybe the organizers did not foresee such a demand, but the fact is the queues to buy anything were exasperating. My friend Antonio himself, along with half of the audience, remained in the queue for Chinese food during the whole of Damien Rice performance, the support act. This talented and successful singer-songwriter is one of the young white wonders of the Irish scene but surely that was not his best musical evening. In fact, he was just arrived from a trip to Barcelona (where he attended a Radiohead concert) and the beautiful town of Cadaqués (seeking inspiration for his next album), so maybe this and the vertigo of playing in front of his al-time idol and also the over-dimension of the venue for his solo-acoustic renditions made him a little bit uncertain. He sang four or five of his well-known hits and there was a moment when he began strumming his guitar and confessed “I don’t know what I’m doing, any requests?”, and then finally finished off quickly given the tight schedule (“I only have two minutes left so it will have to be half a song this one...”). Anyhow, he was playing home and the audience rewarded him with big applauses and both my friend Eva and the Irish girl on my other side were fans in tears, and it would be a dream for me to be on that very stage. It was almost eight o’clock and still full daylight. It seemed kind of strange for me to see Cohen live in concert without darkness and spotlights, and when he stepped in I very unceremoniously found myself still buying my dinner of Chinese rice with curry. But in a matter of seconds, when I could clearly see the Man in the big screen and his 73 years hidden underneath the suit and fedora, I could not refrain my first cheers of emotion. The time had come and Leonard himself had no time to lose so, after the trademark smiles and bows, he got on his duty: “What a beautiful sky! Ok, friends, let’s get started...”. And that’s how it went:
Dance Me To The End Of Love
Ain’t No Cure For Love
Bird On The Wire
In My Secret Life
Who By Fire
Tower Of Song
The Gypsy’s Wife
I’m Your Man
A Thousand Kisses Deep (Poem)
Take This Waltz
Waiting For The Miracle
First We Take Manhattan
That Don’t Make It Junk
If It Be Your Will
I Tried To Leave You
Whither Thou Goest
The sound was quite good, even though given the size of the venue I would have preferred more volume so as to concentrate myself on the music and hear less of the background noises. In the mix, Leonard’s deep voice was above anything else and that’s what everybody came to listen to, so I guess the low frequency instruments (bass and drums) were not that present and there prevailed the higher pitch ones (female chorus, Hammond organ and the brilliant guitarrettes of Javier Mas). The female vocalists, including the sublime and angelical Webb Sisters (what a precious rendition of “If It Be Your Will”!), were a perfect response to the lead man but I must affirm that Cohen was in top form, tuning and vocalising each verse with absolute clarity and mastery. It was especially emotional the recitation of the poem “A Thousand Kisses Deep” when the silence was religiously kept by everyone and the sunset and the moon beyond some thin clouds made it for a magical minute leaving everything else behind. The set-list, as you see, held no surprises in comparison to the previous gigs of this tour (for a moment, when he grabbed the guitar before playing “Suzanne” he made some flamenco-style finger-picking that brought to mind “Avalanche”, what a pity) but the set is surely solid and was received with progressive enthusiasm. The uncountable beers also were beginning to take its toll and the proof was that during the brief intermission the general rush to the toilets was epic, and this time many people (gentlemen and ladies too) decided to skip the queues and proceed with their evacuations facing or backs to the limiting fences and trees. Towards the end, it was getting dark at last and a little bit cold but the alcohol level and all the people definitively on their feet and dancing made it up for it. In some songs like “Hallelujah” (a very memorable version sung-along by the ten thousand souls), “I’m Your Man” or “Take This Waltz” people were indeed holding their hands and couples dancing cheek-to-cheek along the corridors between the seats... It’s getting hard for me to extend my review without repeating and repeating the same adjectives because my opinion is totally on the fan-side. So my critic is severely good although I would prefer a more intimate venue for next time and I would ask him please to continue singing “So Long Marianne” (and maybe add some of the songs everybody knows...).
As we left, we did not have the luck to meet Leonard Cohen the man nor any of the musicians in person. But my friend Eva was very happy as we bumped into his admired Damien Rice and we exchanged a few words and he even hug her in a very friendly and generous manner (which could even indicate some hang-over). All in all, as Cohen said “It’s been a privilege to play in this city of great poets and singers” (and I would add “and drinkers...”). We finished the night of that unforgettable day in a nearby pub with some last pints of Guinness and some other glasses of Jameson too, that’s the way it was meant to be. Cheers friends! See you soon, Lenny!!
great review. Glad you enjoyed the city and werent too pissed off with us bunch of anarchist drunks
. great night though, and all the more special in a way, for those of us who believe in the words and works of geniuses. genius of mind, soul and music. Hope doesnt dance in the moon light.. hope IS the moonlight