A living legend in Rome, Leonard Cohen

The poet and musician blend seamlessly is the works of Leonard Cohen. On the warm night in July in Rome he came to the Foro Italico with an offering. We waited outdoors under the watchful eye of Rome’s observatory on the distant lush hills. This slim figure, nearly 80 years old with hooked nose, suit and stylish trilby jogged like a sprite on to the stage. The crowd gave a standing ovation before he even began. We knew we were in good hands. He comes, like his music, as a weary traveller, a flawed sage. Still searching, hoping. His opening words were emphatic,  ”we don’t know when next we meet, we never know that, but tonight friends, we’ll give you everything we got”,  in a low commanding baritone. He creates an intimate atmosphere with the audience, like a long lost lover. Carpets adorn the stage and the musicians, mostly sitting, are snuggled around him like a family. Elements of his Judaist beliefs are evident at times with an angelic choir of shimmering pure harmony, and the devotional timbre of an organ. The Latin infusion of a Spanish 12 string mandolin-like Bandurria is played with fire and presents a carnal side. Buddhist chanting exhibits his worldly voyage. He can be exhalant and all at once brooding and darkly sexual, or cynical. Prostrating himself on his knees, this is his prayer. His gypsy band of travellers follow. If you give Mr Cohen your time, he will tell you a story of passion, love, sex and questions. A beautiful line summed up his message for the night, “there is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in”. He dons his cap to each musician and treats them reverently. Their solos are given up like offerings such as the loose and low blues guitar, and in turn we receive them with affection. I have never been to such a satisfying and well-rounded concert. His voice with age has changed from a high nasal tone of the delicate wounded messenger of the 70′s to a deep growl that reaches unbelievable depths. He swims in its flow and seems to enjoy his voice and lets it take him away. His encore is long and gratifying. This weary sage knows how to sing for his supper.





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