Leonard Cohen – O2 Arena

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Why This Gig?

You’re kidding, right? It’s Leonard Cohen. One of the finest songwriters of all time. And, since he rediscovered the joys of touring five years ago, his shows have all received rave reviews.

I can’t really remember when I started listening to Leonard Cohen. I know I was a fan twenty years ago, because I saw him at the Albert Hall in 1993. He played for hours.

When he played the O2 in 2008 and 2009 I decided that the tickets prices were too high and I didn’t go. That turned out to be a mistake as the 2008 concerts were turned into Live in London – one of the best live albums I’ve ever heard. So when I heard that he was coming back, I was determined to go.


Leonard Cohen doesn’t believe in supports. This bit me back in 1993 when I turned up a little late and he was already halfway through the first song.


He bounded onto the stage with the energy of someone half his age. And then proceeded to hold the audience in the palm of his hand for well over three hours. The man is a phenomenon. He surrounds himself with fantastic musicians and just entertains. The stage show is minimal – a few coloured lights and, occasionally, lights throwing giant shadows on the back curtain – but nothing more is needed. It’s the songs that draw you in and keep you enthralled.

Cohen’s back catalogue is well covered. All of your favourites are there. Of course, playing for three hours helps a lot there. When did you last see a gig where almost thirty songs were played? It’s interesting that while the latest album, Old Ideas, gets five songs, the one before that, Dear Heather, is ignored completely.

Cohen’s audience is, like him, getting older. I didn’t see many people in the audience who were much younger than me. And it seems that some of them weren’t ready for the epic length of the set. By 10:30pm large numbers of people were leaving. By the time the second encore finished at 11:15pm, there were huge swathes of empty seats. Perhaps he needs to consider starting earlier in the day.

Cohen is now off to tour Europe for a couple of months. But he’ll be back in the UK at the end of August and back at the O2 on 14th September. You should seriously consider going. I’m thinking about going back.

Here’s the setlist from Setlist.fm.


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One response to “Leonard Cohen – O2 Arena”

  1. […] Leonard Cohen – There are very few people who can tempt me to the O2 arena (probably London’s most soulless venue). But Leonard Cohen is one of them. Any year with a Leonard Cohen gig in it is a very good year. […]

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