I just came back in Belarus from visiting Lodz for 5 days and July 19th was one of the most emotional evenings in my life. I have a wonderful story that I hope the forum members will like.
I came to Lodz from Minsk, Belarus in the morning of July 18th, I have a beautiful sister there, she was very kind to me all the time. I brought the old vinyl album of Leonard Cohen's Greatest Hits with me, because I wanted so much to get the autograph of Leonard Cohen before or after the concert, I also had the hand-written letter and a little gift to him. I'm listening to his music for 5 years and I'm really a huge fan of Leonard Cohen for my 18. And she (my sister) had her English classes that day at 14 o'clock so she took me to the center of the city and told me to walk around for a little time and that's what I did. And when I was walking near some old building I met a man walking out of it, whose face seemed very familiar to me, I turned my head and Oh My God - it was Javier Mas! I ran to him and told him how much I like his music and his playing and he was very kind to me, smiled a lot. We talked for a couple of minutes, he asked me if I was a musician, I told him yes and I took my telephone on which I have some of my songs that I recorded a year ago, he took it in his hand and listened to one song and then told me that it's very nice. We shook the hands, he even embraced me and then he walked away. I also told him that his solo in Who by Fire is incredible, he thanked me and said "Adios, my friend". I was so happy at the moment and I said to myself - "I should walk inside this building, who knows, maybe I'll meet Leonard Cohen there". I came inside this beautiful hotel, waited for 2 minutes and OH MY GOD - Leonard Cohen and Sharon Robinson are walking in the lobby and they're coming close to me. I've never met Leonard Cohen before and I remember my heart was beating very fast at the moment. With trembling hands I came to them, shook his hand and told him how much I love his music and how much I'm happy to meet him accidentally there. He said something like - "We're happy too, it's a great privilege, you're very kind". His voice was so deep, it trembled in my ears and my chest. I told him that I had a beautiful vinyl of Greatest Hits album but I did not take it with me, because I didn't know that I'll meet that day. He said - "It's OK, I can sign the napkin for you". Then he came to the bar, took the napkin, I gave him the pen and he signed it for me. It is such a beautiful signature, I framed it the next day and now it's hanging on my wall. And then we shook hands once again and they came to the restaurant. The waitress came to me said that if I want I can buy something and also have a seat in the restaurant, because there's nobody there except Leonard Cohen and Sharon Robinson. She was very kind and that's what I did. I remember sitting for one hour at the same place where Leonard Cohen had his dinner, I did not hear what they were talking about, but sometimes they kindly looked at me. I shamed myself for not taking the letter with me and I asked the waitress to bring a list of paper and while Leonard Cohen was having dinner, I wrote the new letter to him with trembling hands. When he finished and walked out I came to him once again, gave him my letter and my little gift, he shook my hand once again, looked deeply in my eyes and it was one of the greatest moments in life. I asked him about my vinyl, is it possible to come tomorrow before the sound-check, he said "Of course, I'll be happy to sign it for you." And then he went away and I remember looking at his back while he was walking, I was the happiest man at the moment. It was really a great luck for me.
On the next day I came with my sister to the Atlas Arena at half past one, we waited for him at the back door, but the building has so many back-stage enters so we missed him. We waited for many hours but we did not know if Leonard was already here or not. We met a lot of beautiful people there, a lot of fans and it was really a great pleasure to talk to them. But we did not meet Leonard Cohen, at least we heard his sound check a little bit, Tower of Song (only voice, very funny, with a lot of jokes) and Bird on the Wire.
And then was the concert. I bought my ticket through the Internet, and I'll never buy tickets through the Internet again. I paid the max-price (365 zl.) for the very worst seat in the audience, one the last rows, very far away from the stage. I was really disappointed, because it was such a rough thing for me - to look at the stage, to know that Leonard Cohen is here and not to see him at all. But mostly I was sad about the sound, it seemed to me that a lot of the sound got lost on its way to the last rows, so it was not very easy for me to enjoy the concert. But the music was still wonderful. Javier Mas' solo in "Who by Fire" was fantastic, very long (three times longer then in Live in London), "Bird on the Wire" was very beautiful, "Come Healing" and "Lover Lover Lover" - true highlights. After the intermission I returned to my seat and Leonard started with "Tower of Song". After his piano solo I excepted to hear a lot of applause in the audience (as it was on many videos I saw), in fact I thought I was the only person in my area who started to applause, and some people (not many but much more) in the other areas of Arena, and I remember Leonard's words "Are you kidding me? You think it's all I can do? Maybe you'll like these tricks" and after that there were much more laughter and applauses. It was really a great moment. But still I felt disappointed about my seat, until Leonard sang these great words in Hallelujah - "...but you don't really care for music, do you?". Then I understood the meaning of why I was seating on this very bad seat and I knew what I had to do. After Take This Waltz I came to the guard and asked him if it was possible for me to come closer to the stage. He did not understand English, I didn't understand Polish, but his friend said "OK, Run!" and that's what I did. The first chords of "So Long, Marianne" and I'm running to Leonard Cohen - it was beautiful. In fact I got very close to the stage (because I'm very thin) and I looked at his face, I looked at his musicians, it was so beautiful! I was in front of the Webb Sisters and I remember Hattie looked at me (or someone standing very close to me) once, smiled, I waved my hand and then she waved hers. Such a beautiful moment. If there are some videos of "So Long, Marianne", then you will see it, I believe. "If it Be Your Will" and "Famous Blue Raincoat" were the most emotional songs for me. "I tried to leave you" and "Save the last dance for me" - the greatest ending of the great concert. The last eight songs of the concert I enjoyed the most. Such a great and emotional evening.
After the concert me and my beautiful sister drove to the hotel, where we met Hattie Webb, she was very kind to me and we talked for a couple of minutes, she is such a sweet and beautiful lady! One of the Leonard's workers told me that Mr. Cohen told him about the young man, who's going to come before the sound check. Who knows, maybe he was talking about me? On the next morning I wanted to try my last chance to get Leonard's autograph on the vinyl, although I was glad enough with what I've got, but unfortunately it was impossible to get it. But I took the photos with almost all the musicians, they all were very kind and it was such a great honor for me to talk to them. Javier Mas and Hattie Webb even recognized me and I talked to them for a couple of minutes. And then they all sat on the bus I waved them "Goodbye" and then they drove away.
It was such a great time for me and I swear I will never forget this amazing traveling in Lodz.
Tomorrow I will add some photos, I hope my sister will e-mail them to me. Now I have only these ones.
Thanks for reading and excuse me my English
Have a nice day,
- Leonard's autograph
- the zoomed photo from my seat
- So long, Marianne
- after the concert
P.S. - Oh Lord, maybe somebody can help me to understand how post the pictures on this forum? I really have no idea