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Mudhoney - 02, London, 17/7/2008

  by Anthony Middleton

published: 31 / 7 / 2008



Mudhoney - 02, London, 17/7/2008

intro

New Pennyblackmusic writer Anthony Middleton is thrilled by Leonard Cohen at his first London show in fourteen years in a happy, thoughtful and emotional evening at the O2


Leonard Cohen has a reputation for being depressing, even for making music to “slit your wrists to”. This has always mystified me. Being intelligent, serious and genuine are not the same as being depressing or dour. Some musicians (James Blunt, Sting) could push me out onto a window ledge – Leonard Cohen’s music would bring me back to my senses. This concert felt like a significant event; a happy, thoughtful and emotional evening. The only depressing element of the evening was the venue. Mind you, as enormous, corporate, soulless experiences designed to extract as much money as possible from you go, the O2 is nicer than Wembley. The juxtaposition of Cohen’s integrity to all this is obvious. Such is his presence and the importance of his life’s work, that I was nearly thankful to be in such a large audience. It leant the proceedings gravitas. As much as the audience was in awe of Cohen, he in turn appeared smitten with his band. He introduced each of them at least six times; the most modest solo was acknowledged by Cohen name checking a musician, even singing on bended knees to his acoustic guitarist, Javier Mas. The band was given ample chance to shine; the backing singers taking over a couple of times to give Cohen’s raspy voice a rest. Cohen had a mischievous, playful air about him, whether flirting with the backing singers or involving himself in restrained banter with the audience. With a real twinkle in his eye and an infectious grin, he was genuinely taken aback by how many had paid so much to see him. He apologised for the “financial and geographical inconvenience” he had put us to. This may have been his motivation in delivering quite such a marathon show; nearly three hours plus an interval. The set was heavy on his back catalogue, delivering the highlights from his 1967 'Songs of Leonard Cohen' debut, 'Suzanne', 'So Long Marianne' and 'Hey, That’s No Way to Say Goodbye'. Suzanne in particular, though coming after the interval, seemed to galvanise the audience into understanding they were witnessing something special. 'First We Take Manhattan' exceeded my memories of its original. After slightly perfunctory numbers, 'Gipsy Wife' and 'Boogie Street', came the fulcrum of the evening: 'Hallelujah'. Much covered, occasionally improved, the monumental prayer to love, religion and sex was delivered in a raw, whispered growl. The warmth of the Hammond organ solo counterpointed the sandpaper grit of Cohen’s delivery. Cohen’s voice was seductive and mesmerising, his delivery always spot on. He had the crowd in the back pocket of his pin stripe suit from the second he bounced onto stage to when he really did skip off at the end. There has been speculation that this may Cohen’s last tour. If not, we cannot expect to see him anytime soon; he was last here fourteen years ago when he was sixty, or as he put it, “a crazy kid with a big dream.” Even if he does not return at least the building of the Dome has finally been justified. Leonard Cohen’s tour continues in Britain until November. The photographs that commpany this article were taken by Jason Downes and originally appeared on www.virtualfestivals.com



Band Links:-
http://mudhoneyonline.com/
https://twitter.com/_mudhoney
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mudhoney/120610017957082


Picture Gallery:-
Mudhoney - 02, London, 17/7/2008



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