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Leonard Cohen - Barbican, 20/10/2007

  by Anthony Strutt

published: 20 / 10 / 2007

Leonard Cohen - Barbican, 20/10/2007


At a show in London to promote their joint project 'The Book of Longing', Anthony Strutt watches a unique collaboration between Leonard Cohen and Philip Glass

To be honest, this concert wasn't really a Leonard Cohen concert at all. It was more a Philip Glass classical concert recital, but what made it special was that Leonard attended and gave a pre gig talk with Philip. That was what made me part with £30, and it was well worth it for the talk alone. During the talk they told us how the project, which they have both collaborated on and is entitled 'The Book of Longing', began to melt together nine years ago. Leonard was a big Glass fan and will attend everything Glass does if he is in the same country. He also attended the next day's show, a piece in 12 parts that lasted between 4.30pm to 10.30pm, and the night before he attended a Patti Smith show dedicated to the works of poet Allen Ginsberg upon which Glass a provided piano accompaniment. 'The Book of Longing' was the last piece of work released by Leonard back in 2006, two years after his latest album, 'Dear Heather'. It is a book of poetry, songs and prose. Cohen recorded 4 CDs worth of words from the book to be used as reference for Glass's rewrite of the project. Cohen didn't add any music, but actual parts of his reading were used during the gig. For me not enough was used, as the concert itself was theatrical based, involving four singers singing Leonard's words like a London theatre production, and I like Leonard's words sung by him. Glass's music was also long and dragged out. There was a string piece involving a cello and violin which was beautiful, but really I was like a fish out of water attending something I wouldn't do again. At least though I got to meet the great man, himself, twice in two days, and was able to thank him for his music. Leonard's reply to all of us that met him was "Thank you, friend." What a gentleman !

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Leonard Cohen - Barbican, 20/10/2007

Leonard Cohen - Barbican, 20/10/2007

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