Sunday, 25 January 2009

Planetary alignment

What a great week I've had, peaking in a 24 hour period that I will never forget.

On Tuesday night the man whose work has had such an influence on my life, yet who I never thought I'd get to see, played in Wellington. Tickets sold out in just a few hours (which must be some kind of a record for an old person's concert) and from experience I was there right when they went on sale to get the best seats I could get - and they were pretty decent. Leonard Cohen was in town, and received a standing ovation as he energetically ran onto the stage, defying his age.

The concert was profoundly beautiful. I laughed, I cried, and the whole time Leonard kept us in a place where the tempo was slightly faster, the mood more joyous and the pitches more harmonious; it was Leonard Cohen-land. The almost three hours were about giving - Leonard gave the crowd his beautiful music and words, he gave his musicians lots of space to play, and he thanked the audience for keeping his work alive for so many years. He was so incredibly humble. I've never heard his back-up singers sound so sweet.

That night the pinnacle of the concert was reached. Reviewer of everyone who's anyone that comes our way Simon Sweetman put it best in his article:

It's hard to put this concert into words, so I'll just say something I have never said in a review before and will never say again: this was the best show I have ever seen.

The next morning I woke up and due to the intense emotional experience of the night before (and possibly the Webb sisters who made up two of three of his back-up singers) I felt like I was in-love. My radio was switched on automatically to wake me up to news of the new President of the USA. He may not be perfect, but Obama is a unifier, and most importantly he's not George W Bush. The world breathed a joyous sigh of relief.

In Leonard Cohen's words in the song Anthem:

The birds they sang
at the break of day
Start again
I heard them say
Don't dwell on what
has passed away
or what is yet to be.

Ah the wars they will
be fought again
The holy dove
She will be caught again
bought and sold
and bought again
the dove is never free.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.

Eventually I made it out of bed and onto the seat of my bike to get to work. Though every day and mundane, I new the day was a special one, and nothing could spoil my mood. Drifting in and out of thoughts and hazards along the waterfront a group of people standing by Frank Kitts Park bumped into my attention. Three of them were dressed normally, but one, an older man, was dressed in a fine suit and hat. I knew straight away the only person it could be, and that I had to stop and say hi. The only time our paths will probably cross. I don't like stopping famous people, and I know the conversation is usually short and light, but I couldn't miss this chance. When the other fans stopped pestering him I went up to him and said hi.


"Hey man." I Shook his hand.

"How're you?"


"I saw your concert last night."

"I'm glad you could make it."

"I thought you were so sincere and humble."

"Thank you!"

"I hope you enjoy your time in Wellington."

"Thank you!" And then he (or should I say He) continued on his lonely walk.

As I recovered from being star-struck I knew that though I could not see them, the planets on that very moment were certainly aligned.