Mick Hume writes:
Cohen seems to me to have been rehearsing all of his life for the part he plays near-perfectly now: the worldly-wise sardonic sage of the songbook, deploying his acerbic wit to share what he has learned over his long career about life and death, love and hate, pain and perseverance, faith and hope in the face of darkness and depression.
Some of us who may not have entirely taken to the folkie acoustic and uptight Leonard of the Sixties can be electrified by the more relaxed but razor-sharp older model. (…)
The revitalised Cohen’s grand world tours have introduced his music to a new audience and made him cool again among critics. On Sunday, young women sitting near us, wearing trilby hats in tribute to their hero, repeatedly shouted ‘We love you, Leonard!’ at a man old enough to be at least their grandfather. The majority of the crowd was still middle-aged, including more Jews than I have seen in one place since my visit to Jerusalem’s Wailing Wall.
(Cohen, who comes from a long line of Jewish priests, rearranged the show from Saturday to avoid the Jewish Sabbath. Though he also spent some years in a Buddhist retreat, which he credits with helping to alleviate his long-term depression.) (…)
As we left the arena, O2 staff were handing out flyers promoting a show by another veteran, the 68-year-old Rod Stewart, which takes place on Cohen’s 79th birthday. Forty years ago I would have taken Rod the R’n’B king ahead of the lugubrious Leonard every time. Today, I would have no interest in going to see the self-parodying panto dames that the likes of Stewart and the Stones have become. By contrast, the joy of seeing Cohen live was about something more than nostalgia. Leonard Cohen is an old idea whose time has come.