Leonard Cohen @ Royal Hospital, Kilmainham
Many of last night’s 10,000 Leonard Cohen gig attendees did not appear to be in the midst of their first audience with one of music’s most celebrated songwriters. There were tell-tale signs of "super-fandom" from matching trilby hats to family groups with three generations wandering around waiting for the man himself to step out on stage. And as the sun set gently behind the Dublin’s Memorial Gardens at sharply at 7:15 as promised, the 77 year old crooner emerged on stage.
It was clear from the first few songs that Cohen and his band of skilled musicians in their own right were here to show the audience what they wanted - a healthy sprinkling of new tunes that rarely stopped us from being able to mouth along with the hits. No Madonna syndrome here then.
The purpose built stage is dressed with a simple set of white drop cloths and an oriental rug to which Cohen occasional dropped on his knees. Three female singers, and a half dozen men on a litany of instruments were the only other things to frame Cohen as he came out performing 'Dance Me To The End Of Love' in that smoky, smooth voice I’d been waiting more than a few years to hear in person.
There is no flash to the act, just a man with slightly stooped posture and famous hat tipped slightly downwards. But he doesn’t need any smoke or mirrors, Cohen commanded his sell out crowd without the tricks of lesser show men. He has accompanied his audience throughout their whole lives - in sickness and in health, in pain and in pleasure and you could feel the range of memories and emotions flowing out from the revering audience.
Across two acts, Cohen crooned his way through roughly two dozen songs including 'Suzanne', 'So Long', 'Marianne', 'Sisters of Mercy'. I'm Your Man' really started to heat things up in the sing-a-long stakes and when 'Take This Waltz' began to the crowd’s roar, I knew I was in for a treat. Suddenly a group of mostly women, all 60 odd years young leapt to their feet and started waltzing in the aisle. The security guards, who clearly were better trained in Swedish House Mafia-style security breaches, were flummoxed. As the OAPs (old age partiers) danced and swayed in perfect waltz-timing the guards attempted to stop the action, but were eventually beaten and joined in.
Near the end, Cohen remarked it was a "pleasure to be here when so many parts of the word are plunged in pain and suffering. It's a privilege." Ever humble, ever with a accent of the darkness, it was the perfect narration for an evening of Cohen. Hurry back Leonard.
Cohen's setlist from September 11th