Thursday, 27 November 2008

Guest Blog #2 - Oldies can be goodies

This is the 2nd in my series of guest bloggers. This blog entry is by Sonny, one of my oldest friends (in that I've known him many years, not that he is 79 years old). I have been looking forward to this contribution and I wasn't disappointed...

“Well my friends are gone and my hair is grey
I ache in the places where I used to play
And I’m crazy for love but I’m not coming on
I’m just paying my rent every day
Oh in the tower of song”

Last week I saw Leonard Cohen perform live at London’s Royal Albert hall; fulfilling, if not a lifelong ambition, then a very long held desire. I can almost hear the readers of this groaning with the thought of having to ‘endure’ this 74 year old curmudgeon, but please hold those thoughts. This man is maligned, he’s been know by various dark monikers – the suicide song-smith, the merchant of death and many more bleak titles. All of which are completely unfounded. Granted, he has a knack to the more melancholy but within his great emotional insights there is a delightful smattering of humour, and jotted amongst the more famous of his ‘dark songs’ are some very uplifting tracks (such as Independence has Come to the USA, Closing Time, and Ain’t no cure for love).

But I’m not writing here to wax lyrical about the man’s music, you can be the judge of that yourself – you’ll either like him or not, but either way, he’s most certainly worth an open-minded listen. What I want to comment about was the concert and specifically the man. The man is in his early to mid 70s, not that you’d know it from the way he ran onto and off the stage and performing for just over 3 hours. But what had me in my elements was not the music or seeing this legend in the flesh (though that was a huge plus), it was the unexpected presence he had on stage – he was at once charming, modest, and above all, he exuded humility. After every song, he removed his fedora hat, bowed down to ‘his friends (the audience), turned and bowed to each of his band members and then returned his, near tear-filled gaze back to the audience before continuing his performance.

It may seem like a minor thing to notice over and above the music and vocal performance, but in this day and age of self-pontificating, glory-seeking egoists that fill our screens and airwaves, the pleasure of seeing a performer to is so totally engrossed with his art and the delivery of that art to an audience was more than most of the audience could handle. He had us, all of us, in the palm of his hand – staring, puppy dog like at the stage hanging on his every word and movement. It was enrapturing. If some of the artists we admire today could put a tiny percentage of that honest into a performance, into delivering a heartfelt performance for their audience, well life would be so much more rewarding.

He’s still touring Europe and then going to the States around Easter… if he comes your way do, please do, that the time to experience Mr. Cohen… He may be at an age where he should have hung up his boots, but at the moment, he’s giving the greatest live performance of his life and probably of anyone performing today.

There will be another guest blog soon. If you are new to my blog due to Sonny's blog entry - please add a comment, subscribe (on the right of the page) and bookmark (see icons below)!

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