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Belfast says a mighty hallelujah for Cohen

Published 27/07/2009

Veteran Leonard Cohen performs at the Odyssey
Veteran Leonard Cohen performs at the Odyssey

George Michael turned it into a disco, Kylie into a party, Bruce into the best night in a bar ever.

Last night Leonard Cohen and his Unified Heart Touring Company turned the soulless barn of Belfast’s Odyssey into the best cafe in Europe, one of those all-night bars in Paris known to the few.

Of course, when you get a standing ovation before you’ve a note growled out then you’re among friends.

Those who don’t get Cohen miss a treat. Yes there are the songs of loss and loneliness, but leavened with a wit drier than a drought in the sahara.

And songs of love among the greatest ever written.

Kicking off to Dance Me To the End of Love a near-full house of mainly middle-aged reliving the bedsit years moved with every note. And clung on to every word. It was almost a revivalist meeting and not just because he spent a lot of time kneeling on the carpet.

With a perfect band a special mention must go to the backing trio of Cohen collaborator and lover Sharon Robinson and sisters Patti and Charley Webb.

And how could you not love a man who writes, “I fought against the bottle, but I had to do it drunk”.

Hallelujah won a deserving standing ovation and a place in hell for Simon Cowell, while you haven’t lived until you’ve seen a 74-year-old man seduce every woman in the audience during I’m Your Man.

It’s a bad world out there. Cohen provides a soundtrack to understand it. Genius.

Shane Donaghey

Belfast Telegraph

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