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Cohen leaves O2 crowd breathless

PUBLISHED: 18:19 23 July 2008 | UPDATED: 09:58 23 August 2010

ON SONG: Legendary writer Leonard Cohen.

ON SONG: Legendary writer Leonard Cohen.

HE may be called the master of misery, but last Thursday night Leonard Cohen was warm, humble and very funny. Most people expect to see the prolific songwriter, poet and singer, perform in a small run down venue where the smoking ban does not apply. But

HE may be called the master of misery, but last Thursday night Leonard Cohen was warm, humble and very funny.

Most people expect to see the prolific songwriter, poet and singer, perform in a small run down venue where the smoking ban does not apply.

But not this time. Cohen was doing his first London show for more than a decade at the O2 Arena in Greenwich. The Canadian looked like he was having a blast and comfortably shook off the rumours that he was only touring the world for the money after he was allegedly fleeced of his fortune.

The 73-year-old joked that the last time he was on stage in London, 10 to 15 years ago, he "was just a kid, with a crazy dream."

His set was a comfortable mix of songs from his last two albums and those immortal numbers, like Suzanne, which we so much associate with Cohen.

The first of many standing ovations of the evening, came when he sang his much covered classic, Hallelujah, which he delivered with a focused intensity.

The first encore saw the audience, which included Richard Curtis, Alex Zane, David Gilmour and Bill Nighy, join along to the sweet melancholy chorus of So Long Marianne.

He peppered the show with nuggets of poetry and jokes and he delivered the sombre song A Thousand Kisses Deep as a poem which produced another standing ovation.

He introduced his band many times and was not scared of them taking the limelight from him.

One of the most moving moments of the evening came when he let two of his backing singers, the Webb sisters from Kent, sing If it Be Your Will, accompanied by a harp.

Cohen's first joke of the night, when faced with a sold-out arena was 'welcome to the other side of intimacy'.

But he managed the impossible; to make the O2 intimate. Which is good because he has just announced his return.

He will be playing the O2 on Thursday, November 13, as part of his tour extension.

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