LEONARD COHEN PRESENTS
AT THE CUCKOO
MARCH 26, 2007
Reported by Lizzie Madder, Jim Devlin, and Simon Moorehead
"What do I write - nothing I write can capture the emotions I was feeling on Monday - on the train to London, drinking wine in a pizzeria, all the time wondering what it would be like to actually meet Leonard Cohen ...
It was a brilliant concert and a lovely venue (lovely canapes and wine)! Anjani's voice was spectacular. She has a lovely presence on the stage - warm and sophisticated.
Leonard was one of the last people to come in and sit down - oh, about five seats away from me, so we were very aware of his presence! Then he took to the stage to introduce the musicians and Anjani. To our delight, he joined her for a song, "Never Got to Love You", which was a wonderful treat. His voice has lost none of its glory and it works so well with Anjani's! We were a very appreciative audience and she came back for an encore - she and Leonard sang, "Whither Thou Goest". I now await their album of duets!
Afterwards, we were able to meet and talk to both of them, have books signed and photos taken.
This was one of three major experiences in my life (the other two being the birth of my daughter, Daisy and falling in love with Peter) and as I said to Leonard, "It has taken me over thirty years to get to this moment..." It was worth the wait." - Lizzie Madder
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"The concert was just marvellous; Leonard walked to centre stage and introduced the evening... then the musicians... and then Anjani herself.
Anjani played keyboard and sang solo on 'Blue Alert', 'Half The Perfect World', 'No One After You' and 'Thanks For The Dance' with her backing trio of keyboard / guitar / double bass musicians.
Anjani was in great voice - her seductive and persuasive vocals delivering Leonard's lyrics with warmth and charm, and when Leonard duetted with her on two songs:
'Never Got To Love You' and a gorgeous new arrangement of 'Whither Thou Goest' as the finale, the blend was quite magical, enhanced I'm sure by the intimacy of such a small venue.
The audience was appreciative throughout the set, and then disappointed of course when the lights came up". - Jim Devlin
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"The whole experience was simply wonderful nay awesome. I met Leonard at the soundcheck, he was sat all alone at a table. A table of free drinks and michelin star canapes awaited us as we sat literally in the middle of the front row. The exclusive Cuckoo club would have held about 200 people, some standing. Leonard walked to centre stage and set the scene with some witty, deprecating remarks about industry hacks, Leonard introduced the band and then Anjani.
He then sat next to the left of the stage with a bottle of Peroni, Tom Waits style.She played 'Blue Alert', 'Half The Perfect World', 'No One After You' and 'Thanks For The Dance' , Anjani sung with a deep luxurious yet sensitive and fragile voice much, much better live than on album, bringing Leonard words to life. She hesitated in bringing on the great man himself, Leonard sang with her on 'Never Got To Love You' and later on their favourite new song 'Whither Thou Goest' as the encore, I nervously played with my camcorder hoping neither to disturb nor be noticed. The audience was very supportive and both Leonard and Anjani reappeared to sign books after.
Simply a perfect evening." - Simon Moorehead||
Photos © 2007 Lizzie Madder (on the left with Anjani), Simon Moorehead (above with Leonard), and Jim Devlin.
All rights reserved.
Photos used on this page with permission from the photographers.
And here follows a complete report:
LEONARD COHEN PRESENTS
By Barry (alias Born with The Gift Of A Golden Voice)
I only discovered that I had been blessed to be granted the opportunity to attend this elite gathering on the eve of the actual performance itself, when an email from Marie at anjani-music.com informed me that I had triumphed in her eleventh hour draw to be bestowed with a pair of tickets to the event, following the (unfortunate for them; fortunate for me) withdrawal of one of the original winners.
I have been waiting for almost 14 years to experience an audience with Leonard Cohen once again, so this precious chance of a lifetime was simply unmissable.
So, after some late Sunday night online activity to book train tickets to London and then an adrenalin rush of a Monday morning, during which I deliberated over which Anjani and LC CD booklets and LC volume to take with me whilst my wife, Margaret vacillated over which outfit she ought to wear (along with her Order Of The Unified Heart pin brooch) in the long-awaited presence of her beloved Mister Cohen, we finally boarded our afternoon train from Manchester to London.
Arriving in the capital at 4.00pm, the priority was to locate the venue itself, which turned out to be housed not far from Piccadilly Circus. Once this reconnaissance of The Cuckoo Club had been undertaken successfully, we retired to the nearby haven of Fortnum and Mason to stock up on such essentials as mocha shortbread biscuits, some Assam tea and the ostensible delicacy of a small scorpion set in a block of toffee.
On our return to The Cuckoo Club, the doormen were now in position outside the building and informed us that we would be admitted at 6.00pm. It was at this moment that I recognised fellow Leonard Cohen Files member Simon Moorehead (from his photograph on the website), who was stood in front of us. We had never met before but within a few minutes we had established, rather bizarrely, that we actually live about a five minute walk away from each other in South Manchester! He regaled us with his tale of how he had managed to infiltrate the venue earlier that afternoon and actually spend some time conversing with LC himself.
At long last, the doors opened and the official personnel began to allow the queue of people to enter the venue. We endured a brief (although it seemed eternal at the time!) and somewhat heart-stopping delay until a man with the official guest list finally unearthed my name on his document and permitted us to enter. Fortunately, Simon and his mother Sue had sprinted into the club, whereupon they bagged the unreserved table located in the prime position right in front of the small stage and beckoned us to join them.
As the venue slowly filled up with the invited journalists and assorted music industry schmoozers, we were treated to complimentary glasses of wine and served with various trays of canapés and rather delicious mini cones containing fish and chips. I would estimate that the eventual audience consisted of circa 150 people, some sitting at tables and some standing at the rear and sides of the intimate room.
At around 6.45pm, the three musicians who were to accompany Anjani appeared and took to the stage. Shortly afterwards, LC himself emerged nonchalantly from a door to our right and walked in front of us before collecting his microphone and stepping on to the small stage, accompanied by a growing wave of applause.
What a magnificent moment it was when that opulent and peerless voice uttered his trademark greeting of “Thank you, friends.” There was the great man himself, wearing a double-breasted dark grey suit and a buttoned-up mid-grey shirt, standing a mere six feet away from us!
LC commenced his introduction by stating that although he had been with Sony BMG and its various incarnations for over forty years, this was the first time that he had ever been involved in a “showcase”. In order to ascertain just what this gathering entailed, he had interrogated the representatives of Sony BMG as to who would be in attendance. Their response was “industry people”. LC then reflected that this phrase had prompted him to conjure up an image of the audience consisting entirely of “people who play extras in Night Of The Living Dead.“ He went on to say that he had been informed that “industry people have a very short attention span, so I am going to end my remarks by introducing the musicians that are on stage, master musicians from Toronto, each of them composers, soloists and producers in their own right.“
After the band introductions, he added “I was asked to establish some sort of credentials for the singer but, er, when you hear her, I’m sure you will understand that anything that I can contribute to the evening is quite irrelevant. So, may I introduce Anjani.”
As Leonard exited the stage and settled down with his bottle of Peroni at a reserved table just to our left, the elegant figure of Anjani duly emerged from the door to our right and stepped on to the stage. She was carrying a white cup and saucer (which she later revealed contained tea), that she placed on her keyboard as she sat behind her instrument. After a rather diffident and whispered “Hello”, she settled into position, turned to check that her accompanying musicians were ready and began to play the opening to Blue Alert.
After warm applause as the first song concluded, Anjani revealed that they were all a little “marinaded with jet lag” and she sipped from her cup of tea. She then left her keyboard and stood centre stage to perform Half The Perfect World. I have to confess that I had previously preferred Madeleine Peyroux’s interpretation of this opus but it was now becoming apparent both that the three musicians were adding an extra dimension to these songs (as opposed to the more minimal arrangements on the Blue Alert album) and Anjani is a truly captivating live performer. I must also say that she looked even more stunning than she does on the photographs in the Blue Alert CD booklet and (before I come across as being some sort of obsessive stalker…), may I swiftly add that both my wife and Sue Moorehead expressed exactly the same opinion!
After Half The Perfect World had finished, she remarked that singing it always made her think of Hawaii. Next came No One After You, which prompted her to comment on how fortunate she felt to be able to work with LC, how dear he was to her heart and how wonderful his words were to sing. Anjani had removed her jacket and was now looking much more relaxed. She said how pleased she was to be in London on such a warm and sunny day.
Then came the moment that the LC disciples in the audience had been praying for to their various deities, as Anjani invited LC up on to the stage to join her in a duet on Never Got To Love You. I think it was at this juncture that I checked with my wife to make sure that this was really happening only six feet away from us and I wasn’t participating in a recurring dream! As LC sang the lines “I had so much to tell you…But now it’s closing time”, there was a discernible murmur of appreciation from the Cohen diehards in the room! The chemistry between the two singers was almost tangible as they faced each other and it was a magical blend, which was inevitably greeted with thunderous applause.
As LC departed the stage, Anjani returned to the seat behind her keyboard and treated us to a rendition of Thanks For The Dance. Then she gracefully left the stage and walked across the area in front of us before disappearing from view, whilst LC remained at his table, joining the rest of us in the approbation.
Loud applause and cries for an encore persisted until Anjani reappeared from the door to our right and glanced across at LC, whilst he responded with “Are we doing that one?” Much to our delight, the pair of them returned to the stage and announced that they were going to duet on a song they had yet to record but which was one of their “favourites.” And so began a memorable collaboration on Whither Thou Goest, familiar to several of us there as the closing song performed at many LC concerts over the years. A marvellous conclusion to a priceless musical experience.
Shortly after the performance, both Anjani and LC reappeared and readily talked to members of the audience and signed autographs. We queued alongside people that I now know to be Jim Devlin and Lizzie Madder as LC courteously signed various items and chatted with the faithful. My wife nearly melted when he spoke to her! He kindly signed a couple of CD booklets for us and wrote “To Margaret and Barry. Thanks for paying attention.” in my copy of the Book Of Longing. It’s quite surreal to hear LC personally thank you for attending the performance - as if we would ever have missed the chance to be there!
As I shook his hand, I told him that I had been waiting impatiently to meet him again since ambushing him outside the Royal Albert Hall in London back in May 1993. Margaret (my wife) informed him that a (particularly enlightened) teacher had introduced her to his poetry when she was at school and I had actually proposed marriage to her by sending her a (Magritte) postcard on which I had quoted some of LC’s lyrics. I’ll leave you all to try and work out exactly which of his wise words I actually cited!
Meanwhile, a lady who I presumed to be Anjani’s PA was ushering her around the room and introducing her to various music industry bigwigs. I managed to intercede for a few moments and introduce myself as one of the competition winners from her website. She kindly autographed my copy of the CD booklet from Blue Alert and, in response to my query, stated that a return to the UK later this year for a more ’conventional’ concert was a distinct possibility. To my surprise, Anjani recognised my name, as I had previously mailed her some items relating to the Came So Far For Beauty shows in Dublin in October 2006. Oh, and I have to add that she has a lovely touch when she squeezes your arm!
And that was that. Huge thanks to the following: Marie at Anjani‘s website for getting us into the event; Simon and Sue Moorehead for pouncing on the best table; their excellent company and the much-appreciated lift home.
Oh, and especially to Anjani and Leonard:
“Thanks for the dance. It’s been swell. It’s been fun”.
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On the next page: Anjani and Leonard Live in Warsaw