10.000 people for a Leonard Cohen concert sounds a bit inappropriate. A poet of whispered riots and calm profoundities, Leonard Cohen is not a singer for a full stadium audience, I thought.
I had no idea back then about the magical powers this old man has. Leonard Cohen knows how to transform the crowds and how to convert his listeners in the same manner the ancient prophets must have done.
With his intimate poetry and interiorized music, Leonard Cohen managed to become a voice for thousands of souls, conquering an audience encompassing people of ages between his own and the one of his most recent album.
He started calmly, simple, with a famous verse that nobody had the courage to echo for fear of tainting the voice that gives the song a life of its own: "Dance me to your beauty, with a burning violin..." Had we listened to him and dance to the end of love, we'd still be there, dancing.
It took me a while to enter the STATE... I think it was after the first 6 songs, on Who by Fire, a poem sounding much like a curse.
After gifting us with the unforgettable image he speaks about as the creed of his life, but which to me appears as very sexual - "there is a crack in everything, That's how the light gets in" - the master took a break. A 20 minutes silence in a set over 3 hours long!
He then came back courageous, discovering the Truth in the voice of the two "sublime" Webb sisters singing a meaningless line: "Di dam dam dam de du dam dam...". Tower of Song, the place where he was raised by artist more successful than himslef, the humble elder who took the hat off in front of us, an audience embarassed by the undeserved honor.
He didn't act and he did not wait for a reaction to do an encore, probably because the link he was trying to establish involved Music in its purest form not us, the impious spectators of a phenomena we admired without fully understanding. "We'll keep playing... if you wish to stay" And he kept playing... exceeding expectations, the schedule and the rain that quickly ran away scared by the ease with which he took Manhattan the he took Berlin. Leonard Cohen also took the guitar, the keyboard, the mike and he sang, covering us all with just one, famous blue raincoat.
We parted friends, us singing him Happy Birtday and him wishing us a safe trip home and to keep the cold away.
I liked Cohen. I liked the way he tried to say Bucureshti instead of Bucharestand I liked how, after kneelling, taking his hat off and bowing in front of us he simply said: "Thank you, friends, for this warm welcome, of which we're deeply appreciative"
I liked the way he recounted his band, plenty of times. Eight musicians, of which maybe only two were born when Suzanne turned from a person into a poem on her way to immortality.
And I liked Javier Mas, Cohen's guitarist, band's best virtuoso in my opinion. From the way he was fighting his guitar, shaking it as if he wanted to snatch from it the sounds the instrument was stubbornly keeping to itself and from the way he caressed the strings as sweet as he was brutal with the instrument's body I saw the Music being born.
It's true I've been slightly let down by Hallelujah, but maybe it is just because I felt so brutally in love with Rufus Wainwright's cover.
Before this summer, Cohen did not play since he was 60 ("just a boy with a crazy dream" as he says). He climed a sacred mountain and descended it like a lay Zarathustra, a preacher of everything that brings man closer to animals. He started singing again after 15 years and he reached us on the exact day he turned 74. Happy Birtday, Maestro!