Wednesday 16 August 2017

Review: Leonard Cohen

Lissadell House, Co Sligo

Eamon Sweeney

Eamon Sweeney

FOR the third successive summer, we've been blessed by the presence of Leonard Cohen.

While a little bit of the shock and awe of witnessing his brilliance the first time around diminishes, a repeat viewing also presents an opportunity to fully savour the spectacle.

Cohen has been hosted in a different venue every year, but none have been as beautiful and fitting as this. Even though a large cloud nestles over the board top of Ben Bulben for the show's duration, there still can't be a more stunning live backdrop in Ireland.

He's visibly moved as he takes to the stage greeted by a rapturous reception.

"Thank you for inviting me back," he humbly remarks.

His manner is so gentle and moving, it's hard not to feel that this is a personal one to one dedication rather than a crowd-pleasing platitude. Opening with an exquisite 'Dance Me to the End of Love', the sound quality is impeccable and does full justice to an artist of Cohen's calibre. The phrase backing singers underestimates their astonishing talents. Pristine accompanists would be more appropriate.

An early highlight that also totally nails Cohen's class is 'Bird on the Wire'. As the song pauses, he takes off his hat, smiles broadly and bows to the crowd's applause, before concluding the number with added flourish. "Thank you music lovers," is one of the best performer acknowledgments I've ever heard. 'Tower of Song' beautifully kicks off the second half after the interval. As night falls, the spellbinding majesty of Cohen and his amazing band assumes a dreamy, otherworldly quality, infused with the spirits and blessings of Cohen's hero WB Yeats.

He playfully changes some of the lyrics of his classic studded repertoire. "I didn't come to Yeats' county to fool ya," he quips during 'Hallelujah'. Another mesmerising performance, evident in the thousands of beaming smiles all around Lissadell House.

Irish Independent

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