My girlfriend took me to see Leonard Cohen on Friday night— thanks babe. It was a fine performance and the sell-out crowd was enthusiastic. Enthusiastic, but nevertheless genteel; everyone stayed seated apart from standing ovations at the end. The front row sat demurely only a few meters from the stage, no need for security guards to keep the moshpit back.
The much-talked-about sound problems at Vector Arena weren’t in evidence. I did my usual tech geek thing, wandering around at half time studying the setup, but I won’t bore you with that. My body wanted the volume just a little louder, though it was sufficient. Perhaps the low volume was to keep the oldies happy, I’ve never seen so much white hair (or lack of hair) at a concert. Ruefully I remind myself that I’m not so young either.
The band put on an extremely professional show, so perfect that I wondered if they get bored playing the same songs night after night. A couple of Cohen’s band have been with him for 35 years, and if you go on YouTube or buy the concert DVD, you’ll find them playing exactly the same songs for the last few years, the same encores and even the same stage banter. The set list doesn’t vary much. Not that I was complaining.
My personal favourites were “The Gypsy Wife” (beautiful and complex), and the Webb sisters singing “If It Be Your Will”. It amuses me that 76 year-old Mr Cohen skips onto and off the stage like a gleeful child.
In the airport on the way home I had an experience which made me think. Sugarpop got us entry to the Koru Club, a private airport lounge for frequent fliers who can afford it. I can see why you’d want it: Comfort, quiet, internet, newspapers, showers, coffee, food and wine, on demand, as much as you can eat, free. A glutton’s paradise. I determined to make full use of the facilities, after all we had several hours to wait and this is not the lifestyle I’m used to. I gleefully allowed myself to feel like a rock star and began stacking up a decent pile of empty wine glasses.
What surprised me is I began to find myself judging the vintages inferior, and the range too small. Wanting a little more variety. Feeling the choice of salads, hot and cold foods were not quite what I felt like, couldn’t they make something else? Feeling just a little disgruntled when they replaced the cheesecake I’d been scoffing with not-very-nice pumpkin pie (it’s Halloween, y’know).
Then I realised. “Oh my God. This is where it starts. I’m beginning to feel entitled.”
Instead of feeling grateful that I had an abundance of delicious food and drink, I began to complain in my head. I was turning into one of THOSE people, who have an expectation of service and have forgotten just how close they are to starvation. I now understand how quickly rock stars become self-indulgent.
It was a salutary moment.
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The Webb Sisters with Leonard Cohen | If It Be Your Will