My Leonard Cohen
A lacklustre show about one of music's best-loved figures
This article is from 2016.
A talismanic figure of the 1960s, Leonard Cohen has managed to survive an entire lifetime in the music industry with his followers' devotion and artistic legacy intact.
As one of the great confessional musicians, his personal life – the loves and the lows alike – and his records are bound together. When his long-time lover and muse Marianne Ihlen passed away recently, Cohen's parting letter to her was pored over by the press and by music fans alike, demonstrating the malleability of his music and its capacity to allow listeners to project their own stories and arcs onto it.
With that in mind, Stewart D'Arrietta's largely impersonal run-down of Cohen's greatest hits seems to miss out on the most interesting aspects of his work. D'Arrietta manages a good approximation of Cohen's gravelly, howling vocals, and his six-piece backing band performs competently, rattling through 15 tracks in just over an hour.
With the addition of biographical context between such tracks as 'Tower of Love', early hit 'Suzanne' and the inevitable 'Hallelujah', this is better than a mere tribute act and more of a guided tour through a set of songs clearly very dear to each performer. But for a show titled My Leonard Cohen, D'Arrietta and his band neglect to tell the audience exactly why they feel so drawn to these songs. Taken with the overall lack of engagement with an early evening crowd (granted, nothing could be further from the force of Leonard Cohen in full flow in Tel Aviv or Warsaw than a darkened Edinburgh University lecture hall), it feels like a big omission from this otherwise capable tribute to a musical icon.
Assembly Hall, until 28 Aug (not 18), 6.15pm, £14--£16 (£13--£15).