There is a crack, a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in


Leonard live at the National Stadium, Dublin 1988


I was only 19, and had spent the previous 4 years being lulled to sleep and indulging in depression with Leonard’s first 3 albums, very typical of teenagers the world over…. When he announced a tour in Dublin, I couldn’t wait to get tickets!  My boyfriend and I were shocked to find ourselves by far the youngest people in the audience, but at the first note… we knew why!

Pure magic, and a voice deeper than we could possibly imagine!  We heard the lyrics to songs from ‘I’m your Man’ for the first time and fell in love all over again! The dark humour, the self deprecation , the satire… wonderful. And when he sang (if you can call a sound that deep singing…) ‘I was born with the gift of a golden voice’ the cheers from the crowd were deafening!

We bought the tape (you couldn’t buy CD’s in Ireland then) to ‘I’m your Man’ on the way out of the concert, and later that year reintroduced Leonard to my uncle, who from that day to this has been Leonard’s Number 1 Irish fan (I now live in London)

We (my Husband & I) have seen Leonard’s recent World Tour in The O2 Arena twice, At Brooklands Race Track (10 minutes cycle from our house!) and recently at Wembley Arena (formerly supposed to be at the Hop Farm in Kent) Hence the timing of this post

Wembley Arena, 8th September 2012
I was there, AGAIN 🙂

All of us arriving at Wembley Arena were decidedly under-impressed.  We had bought tickets for an outdoor concert in Kent, and 2 weeks before the concert had to shell out another £200 to buy tickets for probably one of my least favourite venues, the oversized (and severely understaffed and under toileted) barn called Wembley Arena. Parking nearby is impossible, we came by motorbike, on a very hot evening through dreadful rush hour traffic and still struggled to find somewhere to park.  Then we had to walk almost a full circle of the arena through crowds of lost fans trying to collect tickets from the box office and then find the right entrance.

We made it into our seats (great seats I must admit, ROW 14!!!) with seconds to spare until the billed start time of 7.30pm.  The arena was half full, most people were still queueing to collect tickets, to get in, to get drinks (it was very hot!), or for the ladies toilets (of which there were far too few).  Over the tanoy (my spellchecker has no suggestions, sorry) we were advised that the concert start would be delayed by 10 minutes.  As 8pm came ad went, a slow hand-clap began. This wasn’t the Hop Farm, and we were waiting far more than 10 minutes.  Eventually the lights went down, and the now full arena settled to an uncharacteristically (for LC fans) disgruntled quiet.

He needed all his charm for the first of two shows at Wembley Arena. The venue was a last-minute replacement for a pair of open-air concerts he was due to play in Kent. The switch wasn’t explained. Outside there was a long queue as people picked up new tickets. Inside there were slow hand-claps as the start was delayed.

Then Cohen appeared. He issued a graceful apology, and invoked the economist Adam Smith in an elegant swipe at the promoter: “There are unseen hands that manipulate the marketplace – hands that I never get to shake, or crush for that matter.” Any bad feeling evaporated amid applause: a textbook example of how to smooth troubled waters.   (By Ludovic Hunter-Tilney, The FT, 11.9.2012)

I could not put it better myself

In fact in writing this I find myself lost for words.  I have found some great reviews while looking for some photos to compliment my amateur attempts from Row 14 and find it hard to better their combined sentiment.  My favourite is from the FT, quoted above, but there are some other lovely ones which can be found by clicking on the following links;

The Telegraph by Sarfraz Manzoor

The Guardian by Mark Seacombe (who was at the same Isle of Wight Concert in 1970 as my husband)

The Independent by Andy Gill

The London Evening Standard by André Paine

As mentioned in these reviews, the venue change, the problems getting in, the late start, were all forgotten, distant memories surpassed by the amazingness of the now.  Sarfraz Manoor talks of his wife being reduced to tears during the concert, so was I, by Sharon Robinson’s mesmerising rendition of Alexandra Leaving.

If there is another London concert in the future, or Hop Farm, or anywhere we can reasonably get to, We will be there….. If it be His will

Setlist  (From setlist.FM)

First Set

  1. Dance Me to the End of Love
  2. The Future
  3. Bird on the Wire
  4. Everybody Knows
  5. Who by Fire
  6. Darkness
  7. Sisters of Mercy
  8. Amen
  9. I Can’t Forget
  10. Come Healing
  11. Waiting for the Miracle
  12. In My Secret Life
  13. Going Home
  14. Anthem

Second Set

  1. Tower of Song
  2. Suzanne
  3. Night Comes On
  4. Heart with No Companion
  5. The Gypsy’s Wife
  6. The Partisan
  7. Democracy
  8. Coming Back to You(performed by the Webb Sisters)
  9. Alexandra Leaving(performed by Sharon Robinson)
  10. I’m Your Man
  11. Hallelujah
  12. Take This Waltz


  1. So Long, Marianne
  2. First We Take Manhattan

Encore 2:

  1. Famous Blue Raincoat
  2. Save the Last Dance for Me(The Drifters cover)

PS.  Apologies please for the dreadful formatting of this post.  It is Driving me to distraction!  One previous post had a similar problem and I gave up on it too eventually, but I am simply unable to get the post to conform to a single style or have normal paragraph spaces no matter how much I clear formatting and start again!  Please, any suggestions from WordPress Users or experts very very welcome!!

About Barbara

Born in Dublin, living in London with Peter, my two daughters, Wilson our Spaniel & Woordow our Malshih (Shih Tzu-Maltese cross)
This entry was posted in folk rock, Getting old, Life, Music, Pain, Photography, Poetry, spoken word and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to There is a crack, a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in

  1. grannymar says:

    I was a quiet fan since my Germany days of the Early 70s. Every time I hear that voice, I am back in my twenties.


  2. george-b says:

    nicely done BArbara, and the link is

    For me one of the most beautiful renditions of Bird on the Wire is Perla Batalla:

    This is from my channel on you tube.




  3. Al says:

    OK. Time to confess my ignorance. I didn’t know who Leonard Cohen was. I’ve since listened to a few of his songs on Youtube. I can certainly understand your fascination with him. He has a unique voice, a refreshingly understated stage presence and an abundance of charm.

    See, you can teach an old dog new tricks.


    • Barbara says:

      When I converted my uncle, in my eyes he was an old dog & that was 25 years ago! Leonard Cohen is a poet first and composer, his music is wonderful. He was famous in the 60’s for ‘Suzanne’ which has been covered by loads of artists over the years. His most famous song these days is Hallelujah which has been extensively covered. My all time favourite is ‘Famous Blue Raincoat’, and I love the line, the title of this post, which is from his song Anthem. He did a beautiful song after 9/11 called ‘the day they wounded New York’
      If you get a chance to see him live, definitely definitely go. We have converted so many people who knew of him in the 60’s and thought he was a depressing singer by dragging them to concerts. They have all become huge fans
      My childhood hero was David Bowie, and I have been to a good few of his concerts, and yet Leonard Cohen’s recent shows are by far the best I have ever seen


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