Remembering Lissadell 5 Years On

Today is five years since the first of Leonard’s Lissadell concerts. So much has happened in those five years. On the night I thought it was going to be the last time I saw Leonard in concert, but such was the brilliance of that night, I just knew I had to see him again, and there started a wonderful journey, which I am still on! Details of that journey is what this blog is all about!

While this drawing isn’t as good as I’d like, I just couldn’t let today pass without honouring it in some way. The drawing is of a photo I took of Leonard during that concert on July 31st 2010.

Leonard Drawing

 

 

I think I am better at editing photos than actually drawing them. This was a photo I took of the screen and just did a few tweaks on it today.

Leonard Photo

The wonderful memories of that night live on in my heart and the hearts of everyone blessed to have been there on that night, a night I then described as magic and a word that suffices!

As I once said to Leonard, Thank you for the magic and memories of Lissadell.

5 Images, 5 Magical Nights

July 23rd 2009 The O2 Dublin Ireland

 

31st July 2010 Lissadell House Sligo Ireland

 

October 4th 2010 The Spodek Arena Katowice Poland

 

10th December 2010 The Colosseum Caesars Palace Las Vegas US

 

11th December 2010 The Colosseum Caesars Palace Las Vegas US

All photos:

© Gwen Langford

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Honouring Leonard at Lissadell, Plaque Presentation at a Canadian Maple: 21/09/10

When the announcement was made that Leonard was to perform it was suggested via the Leonard Cohen Forum that a Canadian Maple be planted in his honour in Sligo town. However this was later decided to be located in the grounds of Lissadell House. Some of us then decided we would lay a plaque at the tree in Lissadell in honour of the concerts. Mick Purcell deserves all the credit for the work involved in this project and I was honored to have my idea of the Unified Heart included. It was decided that we would put the plaque at the tree at midday on Leonard’s 76th birthday. It was my honour to accompany Mick Purcell to Sligo to do this. We went down the previous day to stay over night and stayed in The Pier Head Mullaghmore which was the hotel Leonard and the band had stayed in when they had the concerts in Lissadell. On the morning of 21st of September as the sun was rising I took an early morning walk as I love this time of day and also because I know that Leonard also likes early more walks and it was my homage to him to do the same on his birthday. It was on this walk I took the photo of the birds on the wires 🙂 It was very special for me when we left the plaque at the tree. Some our Forum friends donated money towards the cause so it was a present from many of us and I hope someday Leonard gets to visit the spot and see it for himself.

 

 

All Photos

© Gwen Langford

Photos: Lissadell July 31st

 

 

All Photos

© Gwen Langford

 

Leonard Cohen, Lissadell July 31st Concert Review

Leonard Cohen and Lissadell House surely a match made in heaven was the thoughts that crossed my mind many times over the last few months as I waited for what could be the most magical concert I’d ever be lucky enough to attend.  Leonard having been a lifelong fan of the work of W.B Yeats relished the thoughts of performing there as much as we the fans relished the thoughts of seeing our hero in possibly the most amazing location possible.

Having seen Leonard live last year and that gig being absolutely amazing, I have never before felt so much excitement and impatience in the build up to a gig. Could the tantalising mixture of Leonard and Lissadell really be a recipe for a night we would never forget? The answer to that is a resounding yes! From start to finish this was the most amazing concert I’ve ever been at. Having possibly the greatest poet of our times performing in the place that inspired his hero added a certain magic that I don’t believe I’ll ever witness again in my lifetime.

Playing for an impressive 3 hour 45 minutes with only a 20 minute interval Leonard and his fantastic band delivered to the highest possible standard playing the songs his fans so love to hear and adding in couple of new songs to wet our appetites for the promised new album due in the spring of next year. Dance me to The End of Love was the opening song of this wonderful night followed by The Future and Ain’t no cure for Love in what was a serenely mellow first half. I find it impossible to pick a highlight for this half as every song is a highlight in itself. The mix of  Leonard’s sultry tones and the fabulous musicianship of his incredible band was musical poetry to me ears. However as wonderful as all the familiar tunes were I was delighted to hear the first of 3 new songs, Born in Chains. This new song showcases that even in his mid seventies Cohen can still write great melodies and fantastic lyrics. What I especially loved was that Leonard shared the singing of this song with the sublime Webb Sisters and his extremely talented co-writer Sharon Robinson.

The highlight of the first half wasn’t even the music but for when Leonard said he was delighted to be playing at Lissadell and quoting Yeats “The light of evening, Lissadell, great windows open to the south, two girls in silk kimonos, both beautiful, one a gazelle” before quoting what is possibly his own greatest lyric “Ring the bells that still can ring, Forget your perfect offering, There is a crack in everything, That’s how the light gets in”. He then preformed Anthem from which that song lyric came from to take us to the interval.

Like the 1st time I saw Leonard live the 2nd half proved to be my preference even though nearing the end Mother Nature treated us to misty rain! My favourite of Leonard’s songs Hallelujah and So Long Marianne were preformed in this half. Hallelujah is in my humble opinion the greatest song ever written and it has to be my ultimate concert highlight hearing it sung live by its creator.  Leonard starts and ends this song on his knees and delivered an outstanding performance that even though familiar to my ears gave me Goosebumps and had tears streaming down my face. Even now as I’m transported back to that moment I find my eyes filling up.

Hallelujah aside, like the 1st half it is extremely difficult to pick individual highlights as everything was sublime.  I am probably starting to sound like a cliché but I’m overwhelmed by the intensity of this amazing experience and feel so lucky to have witnessed this magical encounter. It must be noted how brilliant Leonard’s band is. During various moments during the night we were treated to solos form most of the band including Dino Soldo and Javier Mas. As mentioned before as always Leonard’s backing singers, The Webb Sisters and Sharon Robinson were outstanding. The mutual respect between both Leonard and his band is plain for all to see and adds to what is already an excellent ambiance.

Even after the incredible 3 hours and 45 minutes Leonard who will be 76 later this year was still in top form but there had to be an end and it was a touching end when he performed Lover, Lover, Lover which wasn’t even on the setlist. Other songs of note during the night included Famous Blue Rain Coat, Suzanne, In My Secret Life, First we Take Manhattan and I’m Your Man. It was a special moment for me when my friend who accompanied me to the concert started cheering after this song even though she isn’t a massive fan.

I know I could have easily listened for even longer to the concert but respect to Leonard that at his age he puts younger artists to shame and maybe they should take note on how to deliver a night of perfection where it is impossible to find fault in anyway. The fan interaction between Leonard and also amongst us the fans helped make this a night never to be forgotten. There was a big contingent of the “Leonard Cohen Forum” at the concert with over 90 of us having specially made name tags in honour of the special occasion. This interaction with people who are strangers showcased the magic and lure Leonard has amongst his faithful followers.

As I walked out of the Lissadell estate I had feelings of utter happiness and sadness mingled in. Happiness that not only did the gig live up to expectation but managed to surpass it in every possible way but sadness that what will possibly have been the best concert I will ever attend was over. I thank Leonard Leonard for the music, the lyrics and for being such an amazing human being and sharing himself with us and I also thank the Cassidy family for allowing this fantastic concert to take place in their front garden. I and all the other fans will be forever indebted to their generosity.