Had X Factor been years earlier in jump-starting the fortunes of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah – resulting in tidy royalties from three versions scaling the singles charts to varying heights – the song’s writer might never have played this wonderful show at the O2 Arena. He’s gone on record as saying he was swindled out of close to $5 million and needed to beef up his pension fund, so the 73- year-old staged his first tour for 15 years.
It’s unthinkable now to entertain the notion of that tour not happening. Out of financial necessity came a truly stunning series of concerts, including this mesmerising performance from last July, one of the most talked-about in the capital in a long time. The ease and power with which Cohen revisited 26 of his greatest songs over two-and- a-half spellbinding hours left all who saw it awe-struck.
He looks great for a septuagenarian, sharp-suited with dark fedora resting on greying temples, like a veteran spy in a John Le Carre novel. The gravel voice caresses every number with tenderness, punctuated by a nifty line in comic patter, at one point listing the medications, philosophies and religions which failed him because “cheerfulness kept breaking through”. Live DVD of the year, no contest.