Leonard CohenIt was at the Rainbow Theatre in the early 1970s (1972?). I went to a concert with ‘a girl’ for the first time (oh, Brigid Whelan where are you now?). Rod Stewart was then enjoying an extraordinary double career with the Faces and as a solo artist. In the theatre there was, I remember, a lot of screaming. Onto the stage came Rod, wearing tartan trews and trailing a large Scottish flag. Actually, onto the stage he slid, on his knees and continued to slide most of the way across the stage. Some argue that he beat David Bowie to glam rock. He was, anyway, magnificent that night. The crowd erupted, as they say, and when I looked at my companion she was in tears. I simply couldn’t understand what was going on. Well, tonight I took the missus to see a dapper and sprightly Leonard Cohen at Forest National. As he launched into Dance Me to the End of Love, the same thing happened; the water works. Only, this time I understood. Cohen’s extraordinary set lasts almost three hours. Most of the golden oldies are in there: Sisters of Mercy, Suzanne, Famous Blue Raincoat, I’m Your Man, Hallelujah, This Waltz, Everybody Knows, First We Take Manhattan…. And Cohen still has that wonderful voice, now combined with hat-doffing respect and an occasional old man’s jig. He has an excellent backing band, drawing in many cultures, from the Mexican drummer to the Catalan guitarist to the Moldovan violinist. And who could boast a Professor of Music in their band? Cohen can and does. Not since Paul Simon passed through have we been treated to such a feast. Arguably, though, Cohen, together with Bob Dylan, is more of a cultural icon. In any case, having seen all three of them in the recent past I would without hesitation declare Cohen’s performance the best. Only that three-hour array of instantly recognisable melodies and lyrics and poems reminded us that our minstrel was an extraordinary 79 years old.