CULTURE

Music legend returns to the stage after 15-year absence

The recent announcement of Leonard Cohen’s upcoming world tour, made immediately after the enormously influential Canadian songwriter and poet was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame just weeks ago, ranks as an incredible piece of music news, especially for the destinations included on the itinerary, Athens being one. The 73-year-old Cohen, who has steered clear of the stage for 15 years, is scheduled to appear in Athens on July 29 at the open-air Lycabettus Theater, where he had performed shortly before his retirement from touring. Though Cohen’s Athens date is presently listed as the tour’s last show, it has been reported that more performances will be added for August and September. The tour, currently comprising 29 dates in 22 cities, will be launched on June 6 in Toronto, where Cohen’s career as a recording and literary artist began. Ticket details regarding the legendary act’s Greek show have not yet been announced, but prices to enter the 5,000-capacity theater are expected to be high. Far and wide The variety of venues and conditions of Cohen’s upcoming tour is indicative of how far and wide the songwriter’s quiet and poetic work has managed to travel, both among regular listeners and fellow artists. On June 29, for instance, Cohen is scheduled to perform at the UK’s rock-focused Glastonbury Festival, an event that can attract crowds of about 150,000. Not long before that, and in total contrast, Cohen has been booked for four nights at the far more intimate surroundings of the Manchester Opera House, between June 17 and 20. Cohen then hops back across the Atlantic especially for the Montreal Jazz Festival, June 23 to 25, before returning to the Continent for further dates, including the Montreaux Jazz Festival on July 8. Cohen will be backed by a seven-member ensemble of renowned and very versatile musicians, most of whom will each be playing a number of instruments during sets. Christine Wu, for instance, has been listed for violin, viola and cello, an unusual if not rare combination for one instrumentalist, while Dino Soldo has been assigned keyboard, saxophone, wind instrument and backing vocal duties. Hall of fame At his recent induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Cohen – whose music and writing have delved into matters such as love, death, religion, isolation, sex and complex relationships – was recognized by fellow great Lou Reed as «without question one of the most important and influential songwriters of our time, a figure whose body of work achieves greater mystery and depth as time goes on.» It is estimated that the Canadian veteran’s songbook has been covered over 1,300 times by other recording artists, from world-famous to obscure figures. Since his emergence as a songwriter in the late 1960s, following publications of poetry and a novel, Cohen, a true original, has trodden softly within and beyond the music circuit. There has been no hype, no sensational comebacks, just a gradual accumulation of artistic wealth, on occasion amid disinterest, especially in the USA, where his label Columbia had originally refused to release Cohen’s «Various Positions» in 1984, a time when the songwriter’s popularity had temporarily declined.