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Saturday 25 January 2020

I'm your fan: Cohen to get bird's eye view of his hero's bedroom

Leonard Cohen
Leonard Cohen
An aerial view of the stage and seating for the fans who will flock to Sligo for the concerts by Westlife and Leonard Cohen at Lissadell House in Sligo. JAMES CONNOLLY

Paddy Clancy

WB Yeats fan Leonard Cohen has been guaranteed a direct view of the poet's bedroom when he visited a young Countess Constance Markievicz.

Cohen's backstage quarters will look directly at the room where Yeats eventually stayed on regular visits in Lissadell House, Sligo.

He stayed in the room after having to settle for a small room over the stables on his first night at the house, aged 29, in 1894.

The poet was given the small room because there was a custom at the time of keeping bachelors away from any temptation that might be found in the big house.

Cohen, who will play before 20,000 fans in the grounds of Lissadell House on Saturday and Sunday, is expected to pay a private visit to Yeats' grave in nearby Drumcliffe Church graveyard.

Under bare Ben Bulben's head, as Yeats wrote, the northwest is expecting concerts of a lifetime with Cohen's shows preceded on Friday by a Westlife show before 10,000 fans.

Yesterday, production crews were completing the final stages of a new amphitheatre in the Lissadell grounds. The organisers were confident about the comfort and security of the 30,000 fans over the weekend -- 10,000 will attend each night.

Site manager Robbie Butler emphasised there was no comparison with the Duisburg Love Parade in Germany last Saturday when 19 people were trampled to death in a narrow space.

"People are naturally recalling what happened in Duisburg," he said. "But there is no likeness. Lissadell is a good, natural amphitheatre with open fields all around. If there's an unlikely call for evacuation, it could be done without anybody even leaving the site."

Every one of the 10,000 fans will be seated on each of the three nights, and those higher up will have a spectacular view of the Atlantic Ocean on one side and Ben Bulben on the other.

The producers expect improved weather and, based on knowledge picked up from local farmers this week, they are more than hopeful the rain will hold off.

Westlife will have two support acts. Kian Egan's wife Jodi Albert and her band and Shane Filan's brother-in-law Glenn Cal, a musician who regularly plays in Sligo pubs, will perform on the opening night.

Cohen will perform for three hours without support acts.

Westlife, who are playing the first concert in seven years near the homes of three of the four members of the group, are going to have a special party with their families and close friends backstage.

Members of the group are even going to bring the family pets along. They have specifically asked for dog-bones and other dog food in their must-have list of backstage supplies.

Cohen hasn't sought any special backstage packages but he is being given his own special dressing-room in Lissadell House itself.

The events are expected to give a €3m boost to the area, with a town-centre street party being thrown in for good measure on Saturday afternoon.

Irish Independent

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