Lynn Ruth Miller

View from across the Pond

My Leonard Cohen

My Leonard Cohen; Assembly Rooms, August 3-27, 2017

This show is a tribute to the songs of Leonard Cohen performed by Stewart D’Arrietta and his six piece band.   All our favorites are there from So Long, Marianne, Closing Time and Hallelujah. The audience taps their feet, sings along and sheds a tear when D’Arrietta reminds them of Cohen’s words to Marianne just after she died, ”I think I will follow you very soon. Know that I am so close behind you that if you stretch out your hand, I think you can reach mine.”

The wonderfully wise lyrics; the unforgettable melodies that Leonard Cohen gave us…they are all there…but the melancholy is gone. The sheer power of his almost spoken lyrics and the quiet introspection each song invokes are not in this show.

This is a jouous performance of the pieces we love with a strong downbeat and a gloriously happy rhythm. D’Arrietta’s world class musicians have created powerful, imaginative arrangements of Cohen’s classic songs that cast a whole new light on what his music can give to us. Cohen’s wordss have always inspired us and made us think. They were quiet ideas intoned in Cohen’s somber soft, almost conversational voice. In this show, we tap our feet and feel the joy that is intrinsic in what Cohen had to say.

D’Arrietta is a composer and music director who has been performing for many years in venues around the world. He is on piano and he is joined by David Donnelly on bass, Willy Molleson and Tom Bancroft on drums, Philip Alexander on accordion/melodica and Graeme Steven on guitars. Heather Macleod sings and both Donnelly and Alexander join in on backing vocals.

The result is irresistible. D’Arrietta appears wearing the fedora that was Cohen’s trademark   And there the similarity ends. The music we listened to in smoke filled rooms over a glass of wine, is transformed into dance music and D’Arrietta puts his own stamp on the sounds we love. Between the songs, D’Arrietta gives us a bit of biography on Cohen, born in 1934, grandson of a rabbi, a man who became a beacon of gentleness and humility Cohen left behind a tower of song and D’Arietta tells us that although Leonard Cohen is melody, the most important thing he left us are his ideas. We hear all our favorites, each with in a new light. Suzanne, Tower of Song, In My Secret Life, Bird on a Wire….all of them sweep us away.

“Leonard Cohen had a fascination with the darks side,” says D’Arrietta. “But nothing would prepare him for the horror of the holocaust. He discovered that the Germans used music to serenade Jews into the gas chamber and that inspired the haunting Dance Me to the End of Love.

In 2016 when Trump was elected, Cohen said, “I’ve seen the nations rise and fall. It’’s over and it ain’t going any further…and that is The Future, a somber prediction of what our world has become

When Cohen was sixty, D’Arrietta tells us, he had a gut full of music and he retired to a monastery where he lived for five an a half years. The he moved to Los Angeles for a short time and then to India to become a student of a Hindu Master. At that point, his Agent stole all his royalties and, penniless, Cohen went on a tour to support himself.

My Leonard Cohen lasted an hour and ten minutes but it seemed like we were in that Assembly ballroom for moments. No one wanted to leave, but as D’Arrietta and his band pounded out Hallelujah, we left a performance that would stay in our hearts: wonderful songs, beautifully presented and a whole new take on Leonard Cohen and the legacy he left us.

 

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