Review of 2013 Leonard Cohen Hamburg Concert – “Leonard Cohen Is The Eternal Seducer” – Now In English

Note: The original article (in German)  is Leonard Cohen ist der ewige Verführer by Heinrich Oehmsen (Hamburger Abendblatt: July 16, 2013). This translation was spontaneously and graciously proffered by Helen Ketcham, whose knowledge base includes the link between Leonard Cohen and my Uncle Foster.

Leonard Cohen is the eternal seducer

At his concert at the O2 World, the musician opened so many hearts with classics like “Suzanne” and “Hallelujah”. In this, dance is an important element of Leonard Cohen’s current program.

Hamburg. With “I’m Your Man” a young woman can no longer stay in her seat. Self-consciously, she goes in front of the stage and begins to dance slowly, lasciviously. Leonard Cohen does not take notice of her, because he sings the song with closed eyes, but an usher rushes quickly to send the woman back to her seat in row seven. Dancing is still prohibited, but by “Take This Waltz” there is no stopping it. Dozens of women, from teenagers to senior citizens, rise from their seats and pass forward to pay homage to their idol, to put bouquets on the stage and sway to the rhythm of the music. These dances have something of devotion, it is as if a valve was opened that will now let all the emotions have free rein which have been building up over the past two and a half hours within the fans.

Dance is an important element of Leonard Cohen’s current program. He has opened the concert at the O2 Arena with “Dance Me to the End of Love”, he ends it before the encore with “Take This Waltz”, and as the last song he covers “Save the Last Dance for Me” by the Drifters. Whenever he comes off the stage, he leaps, he dances, and he hops in a cute way that does not fit in with the elegant suit and black fedora hat, and certainly not with his age. The Canadian is at least 78 years old.

Such intimate moments only succeed with an exceptional artist such as Cohen

For anyone who observed Cohen during these three hours on stage, any fear of aging must have vanished. He moves springily, often goes to his knees while singing and rises again with the ease of a gazelle. Despite some jovial interludes he remains the grand seigneur through and through. He is still the charming ladies’ man, the man who understands and seduces women.

When he plucks the first bars of “Suzanne” on the acoustic guitar, one feels in the room how the hearts of so many women are lifted by this poignant love song. In it the singing songwriter describes, with his poetic gift, the platonic relationship with this “Suzanne.” This song was released in 1967 in the “Summer of Love;” the magic of this love confession has endured from the hippie era to the present. The large arena suddenly turns into an intimate place. Anyone who is intensely into this song is now all alone with Leonard Cohen. Such moments are provided only by artists with a powerful aura.

During the three hours, there are still more magical moments. Cohen’s delicate interpretation of “Hallelujah” is one of the highlights of the evening, and is the equal of Jeff Buckley. Of the many cover versions that Cohen’s song has received, the most beautiful is Buckley’s. In the program, he has a number of other classics such as “Bird on the Wire,” “First We Take Manhattan” and “The Future.” Also, “Lover Lover Lover” is heard in the current tour of the repertoire.

For the fact that Cohen’s concert is a magnificent evening, the poet owes thanks also to his exquisite band and the three singers who support him with powerful voices. Rafael Gayol drums with appropriate understatement, bassist Roscoe Beck keeps the band on track, Neil Larsen (organ) and Mitch Watkins (guitar) play music at a high level and the solos by Javier Mas (guitar, lute) and Alexandru Bublitchi (violin) leave anyone speechless – at least anyone who does not have heart-shaped eyes and ears only for Leonard