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My Leonard Cohen

D’Arrietta’s tribute captures the soul of Cohen

Stewart D'AriettaI have adored the words and music of Leonard Cohen since my early twenties, but I never had the privilege of seeing him. This show was therefore a must-see. Would it be the next best thing?

While waiting in the queue to go in I became aware of what Cohen means, or doesn’t mean, to today’s youth, as one asked “is this Leonard Cohen guy a comedian?” How off the mark was that?

I have always thought of him as the man who expressed the beauty within melancholia, not as a funny man!

There were, however, one or two notable differences in this interpretation of Cohen’s catalogue.

At first take, Stewart D’Arrietta is an unlikely substitute for Canada’s most famous musical poet. An Australian, bedecked in a wide-brimmed hat, he looked more like a traveller from the outback. His gravelly voice offered a sharp contrast to Cohen’s deep, dark, soulful spoken tones. It was closer to Joe-Cocker-does-Cohen than being any sort of a sound-alike.

But I warmed to his comforting demeanour and voice, largely because this is not a simple rendition of 15 of Cohen’s songs but a deeply personal tribute, interspersed with touching and humorous stories about the poet’s life and songs.

He was accompanied by four talented musicians and a female backing singer whose melodious voice left me wishing I could have heard more of her.

There was one heart-warming moment when D’Arietta told the audience that just days earlier he had heard of the death of Marianne, Cohen’s long-time muse, and he had little trouble coaxing the audience to sing along to So Long Marianne, given extra meaning by her passing.

The loud cheers at the end proved the fans were converted and more than delighted to hear those poetic words ring out once again. If you are a fan this is one not to be missed.

*****

Assembly Hall (Venue 35), 1hr 15mins, 16.30, and 18.15

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