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Leonard Cohen @ Rod Laver Arena

The bevy of nubile vixens listing intently to the anaemic strains of a literary troubadour in a cafe on the French Riviera are no longer. They have been replaced by reverential hordes seated patiently, and even more intently, and basking in the presence of undoubtedly the most fashionable 70-something gent in popular music.


Mid week and not a spare seat in the Arena as the expectation builds. There was no support act, but this duly allowed Mr Cohen more time within which to enchant the audience over the course of 26 songs. The ladies man of yore is now the wise Uncle Leonard. But you would not have thought so at first blush as Mr Cohen and band walked onstage looking like more sinister elements of Sinatra's Brat Pack.

 

These guys looked like they "know people." But the fleeting hearts were hushed when Uncle Leonard reassured the audience that "we will give you everything we've got". And for nearly three hours they did. From Dance Me To The End Of Love to I Tried To Leave You and everything in-between.

 

Three encores later he did leave us. But not after a glorious and flawless flick through his vast repertoire. Bird On A Wire, Everybody Knows, Tower Of Song, Suzanne, The Partisan joined the likes of Darkness, Amen and Come Healing. There was no visual schmaltz detracting from Uncle Leonard and band. A few projections on the curtains was the extent of it. Rather it was flamenco, sweeping harp, angelic backing vocals and a band as tight as a vice. Every person on stage was accorded the opportunity to shine. The instrumentalists played virtuoso solos, Sharon Robinson and The Webb Sisters sang Alexandra Leaving and If It Be Your Will respectively.

 

In a paternal manner, Uncle Leonard thanked people for "not going home" after the interval and having "some charity for the elderly". These moments were answered in a Woody Allen like "You kidding me." There was also a Dylan moment when Mr Cohen picked up the guitar. One got 'Judas', the other 'Jesus'. A comment so apt and ironic on so many levels that only enhanced an impresario performance beyond compare by a man sharing his legacy.        

                   

BY BRONIUS ZUMERIS          

                                   

Loved: Lover Lover Lover.

Hated: Saying goodbye.

Drank: Lemonade.