My anxiety began at work on Saturday, at around 1pm. I was going to see one of, if not THE most influential artist/s of and 'on' my life and my own art. Nothing was going to stop me from fulfilling this dream now!
I arrived home 3pm, where C was getting ready. I don't think he'd seen a smile as big as mine for quite some time - not on my face anyway. I had waited a long time for this. Actually, for many years I was convinced I would never have the opportunity to witness the presence of this remarkable man. His words, poetry and music have lived inside me for years, and I had resigned myself to the fact that that alone would have to suffice. And for many years it did. Mr. Cohen has had, and continues to have, an extraordinary influence of my life, my writing and my art. In my mind - he is something else. He is not just a poet, he is not just a musician, or a wordsmith, or an artist, or a wise old soul - he is all these things and a whole lot more.
His books, his poems, his lyrics and his music have both moved and challenged me. They have pushed and pulled and stirred up emotions of every kind - even some I was unaware of until I was aware of him. He has done all of this without ever knowing me. For this - I thank him.
C and I took the motorbike which proved a smart transport option, as the traffic was near a stand still for a large stretch of the road that lead to the estate where he would perform.
The sun was shining over the vines as we entered the winery - on what seemed a perfect afternoon... could it get any better? I was about to see Leonard Cohen... LIVE.
The great man was due on stage at 7:30 but casually strolled out around 15 minutes early - as though he could not wait any longer to grace the stage and do what he was born to do. It had been a long time between tours for him - and even longer since he had performed in this country.
In Cohen's own words - It's been a long time, about 15 years since I was on stage - I was 60, just a young kid with a crazy dream. and now - this 74 year young kid was making one of my dreams come true.
He opened with 'Dance me to the End of Love', his baritone voice resonating through the 7000 plus crowd. His voice was everything I had imagined it would be - only better - and his presence was something else. I was moved to tears several times and as silly or corny as it may sound, my heart hurt a little when he skipped off stage for the final time at the end of his 3rd encore.
I did not want the music or the night to end.
1. Dance Me to the End of Love
2. The Future
3. Ain't No Cure for Love
4. Bird on the Wire
5. Everybody Knows
6. In My Secret Life
7. Who By Fire
8. Chelsea Hotel #2
9. Hey, That's No Way To Say Goodbye
11. Tower of Song
13. The Gypsy Wife
14. The Partisan
15. Boogie Street
17. I'm Your Man
18. A Thousand Kisses Deep [recitation]
19. Take This Waltz
20. So Long Marianne
21. First We Take Manhattan
22. Famous Blue Raincoat
23. If It Be Your Will
25. I Tried to Leave You
26. Wither Thou Goest
The set list was one I could have only dreamed of. If I had to pick highlights, Hallelujah! and a sublime recital of A Thousand Kisses Deep would be up there. Just seeing the man was a highlight - hearing him sing, and everything else was just a bonus.
Thank you Mr. Cohen. Thank you for making the night a gift.