Wednesday, 11th Sept 2013
Gifted with a golden voice and literary genius, Leonard Cohen, a living music legend thrilled the O2 arena in Dublin instantly. Cohen practically running onto stage, bursting into song, and crouching down on his knees. He soothed us with “Dance Me To The End Of Love” and told us “I’m here to give you everything I’ve got”. Everything you could possibly imagine. It felt authentic and perfect, he captured us into his world of words and beauty, with spectacular simplicity.
The atmosphere in the arena was tense, everyone was drinking up as much of Cohen as their minds could possibly absorb. “Repent, repent, repent” had the band and musicians journeying us into their world with “The Future”. Young, middle-aged, old-aged, some people in wheel chairs, others on walking sticks…everyone who could get a ticket made it their goal to be there. He sang, and wondered “Where is my gypsy wife tonight?” mesmerizing us with “The Gypsy Wife”. Each band member received a moment. Robinson and her perfect pitch, the famous folk duo The Webb Sisters on vocals played harp and guitar, simply stunning us with their vocals and syncronized body movements. Spanish folk instrumentation with Klezmer and Moldovan influences touched like magic throughout the opening.
After looking in a magnifying mirror, a voice in his head said “Cohen lighten up” and lyrics, the wonderful lyrics “I caught the darkness drinking from your cup. And I asked is this contagious? And you said, Drink it up” during ‘The Darkness’. Screeching, the keyboard soaked up the atmosphere alongside Cohen’s throaty voice. The atmosphere was tense, you could cut it with a knife, people were sitting on the edge of their seats. “Amen” from the 2012 album ‘Old Ideas’ is the perfect addition to his legacy, continuing on with the most phenomenal first half conclusion.
Returning from interval with a keyboard, Cohen showed us this man still has got it, “This old pensioner has got the moves” elbow moving up and down the keys, before moving us with powerful renditions of “Suzanne” and “Chelsea Hotel #2″. Some older songs followed, with a more upbeat outback sound of a flamenco guitar and tambourine beats. Succumbing to the experience, we even felt moved to tears in places, we did not want it to end because it was so mesmerizing. The renaissancesque ladies vocals massage their way through the sound in the most unique and unusual way, like therapy, meditation, trips over oceans, mountains, forests, valleys, glaciers and we close our eyes.
Long time collaborator Robinson sang her beautiful rendition of “Alexandra Leaving” to a standing ovation. “I’m Your Man” and “Hallelujah” stunned us, with the bands continuous and rare authentic quality, that few others can match or capture. Beautiful waltzing through our eyes and ears and minds. “Take This Waltz” and The Webb Sisters performed a beautiful folk version. Continually thanking his incredibly talented band and tour staff, he thanked everyone of them by name, one by last one.
The encore was the most special and wonderful of all he played on and on, and on for close to four hours to standing ovations, and then disappeared like smoke. A performance by a genius and living legend, one that could only have a golden ending!
Review by Áine Byrne
In association with Dublinconcerts.ie