We could have stayed all night: Leonard Cohen at the Royal Hospital Kilmainham

Poet, author and the master of song, Leonard Cohen stunned audiences at four very special shows on the grounds of the Royal Hospital, Kilmainham last week.

At 77 years of age (78 this week), Cohen played for almost three hours last Friday night to an audience of 10,000. Skipping, jogging and dancing throughout, Laughing Len was in his usual flying form.

Cohen last came to Kilmainham in 2008 after a 20-year hiatus. It was the start of what turned into a highly praised four-year world tour which initially was planned to help restore the millions of dollars Cohen had lost through the mismanagement of his retirement fund by his former manager.

Now in 2012, Cohen has hit the road again; this time in support of a new studio album, Old Ideas.

Opening with his usual starters, ‘Dance Me to the End of Love’ and ‘The Future’, Cohen launched in a career-spanning marathon cycle of 33 songs last Friday.

Cohen was backed by the superb Unified Heart touring band. Absent from the 2012 band are multi-instrumentalist Dino Soldo and guitarist Bob Metzger. Violinist Alexandru Bublitchi and guitarist Mitch Watkins are the newest additions to the line-up, and their playing created a more 70s Cohen sound.

The instrumental highpoint of the evening was Javier Mas’ laud solo on ‘The Partisan’.

Sharon Robinson and the Webb Sisters provided excellent accompanying vocals. Their solo performances were beautiful too. Robinson performed an outstanding rendition of ‘Alexandra Leaving’, one of the many tracks she co-wrote with Cohen.

The Webb Sisters (Hattie and Charley Webb) brought some of the audience to tears with their versions of ‘Coming Back to You’ and ‘If It Be Your Will’.

There are no real highlights in a Leonard Cohen show – all the songs are gems. But ‘I’m Your Man’, ‘Heart With No Companion’, ‘Suzanne’, ‘I Can’t Forget’, ‘Night Comes On’ and

‘So Long, Marianne’ were truly sublime. Cohen proved that his back catalogue and his new tunes can match ‘Hallelujah’ any day (which also went down a treat).

Three hours of the songwriter wasn’t enough — we could have stayed there long into the night. It may be a long shot, but let’s hope he comes back to us one more time.

Leonard is still the man.

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