My Leonard Cohen
- David Pollock
- 9 August 2019
This article is from 2019
Rearranged and reinterpreted covers of Cohen's classics
Australian covers performer Stewart D'Arrietta was last at the Fringe with 2018's Tom Waits tribute Belly of a Drunken Piano, and somehow that show makes more sense than this, his tribute to Leonard Cohen, which played in Edinburgh for the two years prior. D'Arrietta's voice is low and gravelly, surely more suited to the dark blues of Waits than the uncategorisable pop poetics of Cohen; yet while it's true that very few people could surely pull off a pitch-perfect Cohen imitation, D'Arrietta doesn't so much make these songs his own as rent them out and rearrange the furniture in attractive fashion.
Seated at the piano with a trio of experienced local session musicians behind him, it's the sense of storytelling which feels as though it grants D'Arrietta licence to have a crack at Cohen's music. He tells of the singer's 'muse' Marianne Ilhen and Cohen's final correspondence with her before 'So Long, Marianne'; the dark legacy of the Holocaust which was the unlikely inspiration for 'Dance Me to the End of Love', given a klezmer-style update here; and of the flirtation with religion and bankruptcy which brought about the 'I'm Your Man' tour. Every seat in this large room is filled and the closing 'Hallelujah' is greeted like the inter-generational pop classic it's become, a sign of Cohen's posthumous popularisation to the extent that he's now a covers-friendly artist.
Assembly Rooms, until 25 Aug, 6.30pm, £15–£16.50 (£14–£15.50).