Rufus Wainwright @ Vicar Street with Adam Cohen and Teddy Thompson.

When it was announced Rufus Wainwright was appearing in Vicar Street I didn’t pay much attention, that is until Adam Cohen was announced as supporting him. Never before in all my years going to concerts have I gone just to see a support artist but for Adam I most certainly was prepared to make the exception. Also supporting was Teddy Thompson. I confess besides the covers Rufus and Teddy have done of Leonard Cohen songs I know very little about their music, however this didn’t take away from a very enjoyable night and it was interesting being at a concert where I knew very little of the music performed.

After a delayed start Teddy Thompson opened the show with four songs. I was very impressed with his strong vocals and guitar playing on all four songs and indeed what was very rare for concerts was that last night both Teddy and Adam got an excellent response from the crowd. Due to the delay Adam’s set was for five songs only, four of his own songs and then as always his wonderful cover of his fathers song So Long Marianne. Adam was in great form making loads of jokes including that he didn’t know how Rufus had managed to inseminate his sister but that he did! I’m noticing every time I see Adam in concert he is getting better and better. As always Mai Bloomfield and Michael Chaves were excellent and their musicianship didn’t go unnoticed by those in the audience unfamiliar with Adam’s work. It was great to see a standing ovation for Adam, Mai and Michael as they took a bow. This is certainly something I never witnessed in concert before, a standing ovation for a support act.

Between Adam’s and Rufus’ sets I overheard many people discussing how impressed they were and not only with Adam and co but also I overheard a few people saying that they would like to see his father in concert now too. I told anyone near me that if they ever get the chance to see Leonard they have to take it! I spoke briefly to Adam during this time and I was pleased to hear that he will be back in Ireland next April. I told him I am going to see his father in Montreal and he told me his father is the best to which I agreed but told him he was next best. He also repeated this loudly to others gathered around how his father is the best. It gave me a warm feeling how proud Adam is of his father.

While I was talking to Adam we heard Rufus coming on stage so I went in through the doors and watched the first song at the side not wanting to interrupt anyone trying to find my seat and waited until the song was over to go back to my seat.  For the first song the only lights were from candles from the stage and I was impressed from the start with Rufus and his band which included Teddy Thompson. After the opening song the stage was lit up and we could see all the band including backing singers, a keyboard player, drummer and various guitar players. Rufus alternated without instrument to guitar and grand piano. As stated at the start of this review I confess I know very little about the music of Rufus with the exception of Leonard Cohen covers that he has done. I vaguely recognised a couple of songs but the only one I actually knew was his cover of Everybody Knows. For once not knowing the songs didn’t bother me. I enjoyed hearing them for the first time and the standard of performance was high from everyone on stage. Not knowing the songs gave me an opportunity to take in the audience reactions and it was plain to see there were many people there who knew every word of every song.

While the concert was very enjoyable the finale was amazing. As I had taken loads of photos and not wanting to be taking repeats of similar scenes I’d put my camera away for the encores. It was quickly retrieved when this guy came out on stage dressed as cupid and slowly various band members came out dressed up. Cupid and Rufus dressed as an emperor even took to walking amongst the crowd before being bringing a group of the audience back on stage. It was a wonderful end to the concert and completely to me unexpected. I left Vicar Street very impressed at what had been a very enjoyable evening from start to finish!

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Thank You Friends

While this blog is dedicated to my personal Leonard Cohen Journey I need to thank some special friends for supporting me along the way. First and foremost I want to thank my travelling companion Mandy. Having such a wonderful friend to share these experiences with makes it all the more memorable, not to mention funny! Thanks for the tears and laughter Mandy. I’m so looking forward to making lots of new memories starting in Dublin next week 🙂

Thanks to Camp Cohen webmaster Joey for taking this photo!

When I decided to publish this blog I received amazing kind comments from friends near and far but none more special than the following two. Firstly the wonderful Arlene for this post on her blog when I first published my blog:

http://onboogiestreet.blogspot.ie/2012/08/gwens-leonard-cohen-journey-launched.html

Thanks so much Arlene!

Also deserving of a special mention is DrHGuy who also posted on his website about my blog:

DrHGuy has always been a huge supporter of my Rose photo and after getting it signed by Leonard, he was one of the first people I told. Today in his unique writing style he published this article about me meeting Leonard and Co on one of his websites:

http://drhguy.posterous.com/gwen

I love it thanks!

There are so many other people who are deserving of my thanks but I’d be here forever if I was to try to list everyone and then there would probably be the dreaded accidental omission of someone so I dare not. Those of you reading this know who you are and you know I will be forever grateful.

Of course a special thank you is extended to Leonard, his wonderful band and crew and of course Adam for all being the most genuine people I have ever met and are definitely regarded as friends.

 

Precious Momentos From Ghent

Left: My black and white collage of photos I took at various concerts in 2010. Top Right: Leonard Cohen and The Rose of Katowice, photo taken by me. Bottom Right: Father and Son, Leonard and Adam Cohen. Photo taken by Lorca Cohen.

Friends of mine on both Facebook and The Leonard Cohen Forum will recognise the rose photo here as my favourite photo that I have ever taken and the one regret I had from when I met Leonard in Las Vegas was that I didn’t have this photo with me. Leonard and music aside my other passion in life is photography so when I can combine music and photography I am at my happiest. I also love black and white photography so I printed the black and white collage of photos I had taken on the previous tour when getting the rose photo printed.  I made sure to bring these photos with me to Ghent, just in case I did meet Leonard again, never daring to really think lightning can strike twice.

I also had a dream of getting the photo of Leonard and Adam signed by both, but also not daring to dream too much. I knew there would be a very good chance of seeing Adam after his concert as he does meet and greets, so when I met him he personalised it for me so Leonard wouldn’t have to should the miracle happen! Adam was really touched when he saw the photo holding it up for everyone to see saying “Look everyone, it is a photo of me and my father”.

Lightning does strike twice sometimes and it did again for me. I had went to Ghent prepared and had a silver pen with me but in my excitement at seeing Leonard I’d left it in my bag and left my bag at our table! When I asked Leonard would it be ok to go and get it he replied he had a silver pen, always prepared for if he met his fans, always the gentleman. The pen had to be silver for the writing to show up on the photos.  I first showed Leonard the photo of him and Adam and he was very impressed and then saw Adam had already personalised it for me. I told Leonard this was to save him time. I then showed him the black and white collage and finally my rose photo. I was very touched and still am that when I asked Leonard to personalise it for me that he did and he signed it Leonard instead of his usual full name.

I’m still in shock that I actually spoke to Leonard  again and have these precious momentos to treasure forever. Thank you Leonard and Adam for making my dreams come true and for continuing to do so over and over again.

Meeting Leonard and Co in Ghent

Thank you Leonard and co for the wonderful memories of Ghent 😉 Some of my friends will know why I use these words 🙂

Photo Credits:

Photos 1-15 were taken by my wonderful friend Mandy MacLeod. Thanks so much Mandy, I deeply appreciate you capturing these moments for me.

Photo 16 was taken by J.S Carenza III aka the webmaster of Camp Cohen and Leonard Cohen’s road manager. Thank you Joey.

Photo 17 was taken by Ine Mensink-Jenniskens. Thank you Ine.

Review: Adam Cohen @ The Summer Music Festival Brussels

When it was announced that Adam Cohen would be playing in concert in Brussels on August 13th on the free day for us between his father Leonard Cohen’s concerts that we were attending in Ghent we couldn’t resist the chance to be there as it was only an hour on the train between the two cities. Cohen was playing as part of the Brussels Summer Festival in a tent called Magic Mirrors.

After arriving good and early so I would be at the front everyone was sitting relaxing when Cohen and his two band members Michael Chaves and Mai Bloomfield came on stage. I was very surprised when everyone remained sitting and initially that annoyed me as sitting on the floor isn’t very comfortable for me. However after a while I came to enjoy this as it added a very intimate feel to the concert and I was pleased to see Cohen had attracted a decent crowd as the act before his hadn’t!

Cohen was on stage for an hour and we got to hear songs from his album Like A Man including Lie Alone, Sweet Dominique and Beautiful which he wrote for his son. I hadn’t listened to this album in a while so it was like revisiting an old friend and I really enjoyed it.

For anyone who had been at his father’s concert the previous night there were two very special treats awaiting us. After the first song Cohen asked us would we prefer he spoke in English or French and when there seemed to be an equal number if shouts he decided to speak in French so I didn’t really understand what he was saying when he mentioned his father but when I heard him say the words Mike Scoble I was delighted as he is both Cohen’s tour managers and the previous night he had joined Leonard Cohen on stage for Darkness where he played harmonica. This time he joined Adam Cohen, again on harmonica but this time to perform Leonard Cohen’s song Tower Of Song. As a rule I am not a fan of people singing Leonard’s songs, however for Adam I make an exception as I love him as a singer too and feel that he gets how his father’s songs should be treated!

As special as this moment was it was nothing to what our next treat was. Again Cohen was speaking French but when I heard the words Javier Mas I could hardly contain my excitement. Mas is a full time member of Leonard Cohen’s band and is the master of stringed instruments and is famous in concert at playing amazing solos especially during Who By Fire. He joined Adam Cohen on stage to perform another of his father’s songs and indeed one of my favourites, So Long Marianne. It sounded amazing and watching from such a close location was a very special moment for me. I had spoken to Javier Mas earlier in the day and that added to the magic of the moment.

These moments and once again seeing Adam Cohen in concert made for a memorable evening which was topped off after with as he often does a meet and greet with anyone who wished to speak with him. I was very touched when he remembered me from our last meeting. I also spoke briefly to Michael Chaves, a gentleman. It always impresses me how the Cohen’s musicians and crews are as amazing as they are. The whole evening was very enjoyable and we left Brussels to go back to Ghent with great memories to take with us.

 

Review; Adam Cohen @ Crawdaddy

Adam Cohen
© Gwen Langford

 

It was with much anticipation that I headed to see Adam Cohen in Crawdaddy Friday November 4th. There are a number of reasons for this. Firstly and most importantly is because I absolutely love his new album Like A Man and there is also the fact he is the son of my all time favourite artist Leonard Cohen. However let’s set the record straight here it was on Cohen’s own merits that I wanted to see him live and I wasn’t to be disappointed. This concert was very special and unique in many ways.

Opening with Sweet Dominique, one of my favourites from the album it set the tone for a wonderful night. Having only Cohen and two band members, Mai Bloomfield and Michael Chaves playing various instruments made for a very special intimate setting and as great as the songs sound on CD they were even better when performed live. Between every song there was conversation and I loved hearing Cohen speak of his relationship with his father and his son and also of the relationship between his father and mother where often even as a young child he had to be a mediator between the two of them. He dedicated the song Beautiful to his son.

There was plenty of humour during the gig. At one stage Cohen mentioned how important the Catholic religion is in Ireland to which a group of us replied it isn’t to everyone! He laughed and showed us his bracelet of saints which was similar to the one his father had worn on some of his tour dates last year including the concerts in Lissadell and Katowice. He made a lot of jokes about sexuality during the concert to which I shouted up he is a try-sexual. He thanked me looking confused so a few of us shouted up it means he will try anything. Understanding what I had meant he thanked me for giving him a new word for his armour!

Cohen had brought a glass of tequila on stage with him and while taking a sip at one stage we taught him the word Slainte and explained whiskey in Irish is Uisce Beatha which translates to water of life in English. Later in the concert when he finished the glass of tequila he ordered for a bottle to be brought out and even shared it with those of us at the front of the stage much to the envy of those further back.

The whole concert was a highlight for me but the most special moment was when Cohen sang his father’s song, So Long Marianne. Before starting to sing it he said he was always touched by the Irish reaction when his father sang this song and we didn’t disappoint him when the entire crowd joined in and went wild at the end of the song. Cohen and his bands reaction to this was of complete awe and it warmed my heart to see him so moved by our reaction. For me it always an important part of any gig to be surrounded by a great audience and we had that in abundance that night! There were 300 people in attendance and given the intimacy of the venue it was amazing to be part of such a welcoming and supportive audience.

Other songs performed on the night included What Other Guy, Girls These Days, Like A Man and Overrated. Overrated deserves a special mention as before performing this Cohen told us about a gig he had performed where Paul McCartney was in the audience. Someone had told him this before the gig and he said how he wished they had waited until after he had performed but that even given this knowledge he had enjoyed the gig. Of the song Overrated McCartney commented that he wished he had written that song himself!

Overrated was supposed to be the final song of the night but given the enthusiastic reaction from the crowd Cohen treated us to two extra songs with the final song been the first song on the album, Out Of Bed. I love this song so it was a very fitting end for me. Every song sounded excellent on the night and Cohen’s vocals were impeccable. It must be noted the excellent musicianship of all three on stage and I especially loved the cello playing by Mai Bloomfield on So Long Marianne.

After the concert had ended Cohen very generously spent a lot of time signing various memorabilia and also posing for photos. He is a very gracious and kind with his time and was willing to chat and listen to anyone who wanted it. I left Crawdaddy that night very happy having attended a very memorable concert and hoping it won’t be too long before Cohen graces our shores again.

Adam signing for me.
Thank you Albert Noonan for taking the photograph

 

Me with Adam
Thank you Albert Noonan for taking the photograph

 

 

Review: Adam Cohen, Like A Man

 

They say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree and in the instance of the new album from Adam Cohen it is fair to say in this case this is an accurate description as his father’s influence is all over this record. Having Leonard Cohen as a father and lifelong influence in his life was sometimes hard for Cohen to deal with and while on his first two records he tried to move away from his father’s influence and indeed genre of music now with his new record Like A Man he embraces his heritage.

Like A Man is an acoustic album of beautiful melodies where the theme of love is omnipresent. The first song on the album is Out of Bed and from the opening line “For you I’d try to make it rain in the desert, I’d ask the mountains to kneel down” I knew that this was going to be a wonderfully emotive album full of excellent imagery.  Out Of Bed is a song where the narrator is describing his love but how even though he has these deep feelings he is unable to keep his promises but that he loves her all the same.  With an opening line of that calibre it is the perfect opening to the album.

Songs of note on the album include Like A Man where he describes himself as the stereotypical male even though he doesn’t want to be. However he wants her to be the stereotypical woman. It is a song of contradiction but a song that would resonate with many other people. Similar in lyrical style to this song would be Overrated where he believes love is over rated but he still wants it anyway. What Other Guy is another song of note where the narrator claims to know everything about his woman and poses the question what other guy knows her like that. It is a gorgeous declaration of love and of knowing someone so well and when mixed with sublime guitar playing it is the perfect marriage of melody and lyrics.

A song of special mention would be Sweet Dominique. Where most of the songs have the guitar as the main backing instrument to Cohen’s sublime vocals in this song there is a wonderful organ sounding like melody which has an almost religious feel to the music. It is accompanied with the most beautiful lyrics including “You opened like a flower in the heat, your beauty on my eyes like a masterpiece” and also the wonderful line “I didn’t know we could go so many kisses deep” reminiscent of his father’s song A Thousand Kisses Deep. This song also includes the brilliant line “If love was like a mountain you took me to its peak”.

Another song where the lyrics remind me of Cohen‘s father is in Beautiful. This song describes that even if there were many disasters in the world like the examples he uses including if the Hollywood sign catches fire that he would want to tell his lover “Thank you for being so beautiful”. The line “farewell New York City, farewell Bethlehem, so long Willy Shakespeare, so long Marianne” is most certainly a homage to his father’s song So Long Marianne.

My favourite song on the album is the final song Stranger. It is definitely a case for me of saving the best until last. Ironically an album of love songs it is the only song where love is not the central theme. It describes how we all live together but that essentially we are all strangers and are just passing through. This song instantly reminded me of the song Passing Through sang and arranged by his father and originally written by Richard (Dick) Blakeslee.

Looking at the album Like A Man as a whole I feel it works well and the chosen songs and placements work well together. Mixing beautiful melodies with soulful lyrics makes for a perfect combination.  While I have noticed the influence of his father I do believe this is an excellent record which would appeal to anyone who likes acoustic music. Cohen’s vocals are wonderfully relaxing. On my first listen to this album I was instantly reminded of David Kitt and I would highly recommend this to anyone who is a fan of his music.

Interview: Adam Cohen

 

Adam Cohen, the son of Leonard Cohen recently released a new album Like A Man and has very generously taken some time out to answer questions for Drop-d.

What artists other than your father influence you as a songwriter?

Bob Marley, Randy Newman, Serge Gainsbourg, Prince and U2. I listened to these artists a lot, and very carefully.

As the son of a famous and successful poet, novelist and artist, as well as a singer songwriter, do you aspire to partake in any of these other fields yourself?

I do participate, as vigorously and intensely and dedicatedly as possible, in all these fields, except drawing/painting (for which I have no talent)

Now you are a father yourself has this changed your outlook in life and how do you deal with the times of separation when you are on tour?

Fatherhood is beautiful, intense, course altering stuff, but Daddy’s got to work. My job is to make my presence felt despite my absence. Many fathers (including my own) had to contend with this pre Skype and such wonderful and inexpensive ways to stay in touch.

You have previously spoke of how hard it was when you started out as a musician and how you wanted to move as far from what your father did and have your own style but now you appreciate his influence more. What were the factors in changing this opinion for you?

Three main factors lead me to where I am now:

  1. A series of disappointments, misfortunes and career choices that lead to disillusionment.
  2. The admirable, unexpected, triumphant and inspiring resurgence of my father to the stage.
  3. My becoming a father and the courage, insight and wisdom that wondrously came along with it.

Having lived as a child on different continents and countries and now having travel as a compulsory part of your job, do you enjoy all the travelling that you do?

Travelling is one of the great joys of life and the world, a true privilege in which I so often get to revel.

What age did you start writing songs?

My earliest memory of “writing” a song is at the kitchen table with my father (who lead the impromptu and decidedly domestic session) and sister, perhaps I was 3 or 4.

How many different musical instruments can you play?

I play guitar, piano and drums, all moderately well at best.

Which comes first for you when writing songs, the lyrics or the melody?

Often a song will start with a sentence that sticks in my head. If the sentiment or idea is strong enough I’ll start to flesh it out with strumming and humming. The shapeless chord structure and murmurings might begin to take a shape, and then, for this exercise to turn into (yield) a song, I must succumb completely to inspiration or something that feels more like luck than know-how.

Do you find writing songs come naturally or is it something you have to really work on?

I work hard at it, start over and over, sometimes curse out loud at the idiocy of some of my thoughts. Sometimes can’t believe I penned something after it came out of me.

Like A Man is released in October, how long did it take to complete this album?

All together about two weeks. Two delightfully painless, inspired and course altering weeks. The least painless, most joyous experiences I’ve ever had in studio (a place that has more often caused a sense of anxiety and self-doubt)

Having previously being in a band, Low Millions, do you relish being a solo artist?

I love being in a band. There’s nothing like it, or maybe being in a great gang or fearsome tribe is just like it but I loved it. Being a solo artist is also great, at times. Both are privileges.

You wrote Lullaby in Blue for Bette Midler. Who else have you written songs for?

I’ve written so many songs for so many artists, almost none of them ever making it onto records. So so many infernally close calls. Artists holding the song till the last minute and not actually keeping them for the record. It’s not a subject I care to revisit, discuss or think about!

Are there any songwriters that you aspire to work with or duet with?

I’d love to write for Adele, Feist, Beyonce, Norah Jones and Taylor Swift, for every reason you can think of.

What would you say has being your greatest achievement to date?

This latest album Like A Man is without a doubt my proudest artistic achievement but having my son is my most delicious personal “achievement”.

What are your feelings on how reality TV shows like American Idol have changed the music industry?

They perpetuate the idea of instant success.

Before performing a gig do you have any rituals that you follow?

The ritual usually consists of scrambling to find a measure by which to calm my nerves or clear my mind of clutter standing in the way of great focus.

What is your favourite way to unwind after a gig?

If I’ve had a great gig, I want to drink, laugh, eat, meet, greet, smoke, flirt and plot other gigs. If I’ve had a difficult gig, I want to go home, and quit.

If you hadn’t chosen this career where would you see yourself now and was music always the foremost calling in your life?

Music was a virus contracted at such an early age, something so powerfully seductive to me, as far back as I can remember. It was my only certainty. There was no plan b. Still isn’t.

Is religion an important aspect of your life?

Not as much as travel or food, or sex, or music, or love.

Outside of music and your family what are your favourite pastimes and forms of relaxation?

Travel, food, music, love, sex.

10 Years from now where would you like yourself to be as a person and a musician?

I’d like to chart clear growth. The specifics of which I’d prefer not to bait.

 

This interview was carried out by me for an Irish online music magazine calle Drop-d and the interview originally was published there:

http://www.drop-d.ie/adam-cohen-interview/21204