Poet-singer Leonard Cohen on Tuesday night won over the Montreux Jazz Festival with his smooth deep voice and dry humour as he made his first appearance at the event for 23 years.
Almost 74 years old, but looking dapper in a pin-striped suit, grey shirt and hat, Cohen joked with the packed hall about his decision to tour again after a long lay-off.
”It’s been a long time I’ve stood up on the stage, about 14 years — I was 60, just a kid with a crazy dream,” Cohen said.
”Since then I’ve taken a lot of Prozac … also studied religion and philosophy, but cheerfulness kept breaking through,” he said, drawing laughter from the crowd in a lead up to a song called Ain’t No Cure for Love.
Cohen, in his third appearance at the festival located next to the Lake Leman, performed for almost three hours. His previous performances here were in 1976 and 1985.
He had quit the music scene in the early 1990s, living at a Buddhist monastery in California, where he was ordained a Rinzai Zen Buddhist monk and took the name Jikhan, meaning ”silence”. But he was forced to return after being swindled out of his retirement nest egg by his former manager.
On Tuesday, he proved that he had not lost his touch, charming the crowd with the favourites including Hallelujah, Suzanne and I’m Your Man.
He also showed his political side, singing Democracy and The Future, which criticise social decay. ”Give me back the Berlin wall, give me back Stalin and St Paul. I’ve look into the future, my brother, it is murder,” he sang.
The crowd would not let him leave, so he obliged with several more songs including First We Take Manhattan, So Long Marianne and Closing Time.
And when his audience still would not let him go, he closed definitively with I Tried to Leave You.
He sang: ”Goodnight, my darling, I hope you’re satisfied, the bed is kind of narrow but my arms are open wide. And here’s a man still working for your smile.” — Sapa-AFP