It’s a testament to how scarily well-organized Amsterdam is that even without a clue how to speak the language I could figure out their transit system well enough to find the bus to the Cohen concert, which was taking place in a park that seemed built for concerts. From the festival of accents it was clear the audience was from everywhere.
At the entry gate a German woman in her sixties asked what part of America I was from. I told her I was from Canada and since Cohen is Canadian I was suddenly kamaaina in Cohen-land. “You Canadians are so lucky, you must see him all the time.”
I nodded and smiled like Cohen and I hung out and watched hockey every other weekend. I didn’t have the heart to tell the German that the only reason Cohen was on tour was because his manager ran off with all his money and we probably shouldn’t expect much since he likely resented every second on stage.
Then the 72-year-old in the movie star suit and gangster hat performed the longest set I’d seen from anyone other than Springsteen circa Born in the USA. Despite being neighbours – at least by German standards — I’d never seen Cohen.
I’d also never had a religious experience at a concert before, but I’m not sure how else to describe the magic of Cohen singing “Hallelujah” while the sun set over Amsterdam.
This was my all-time perfect concert moment — until the encore when Cohen came out, launched into “So Long Marianne” and the rain, which had been threatening throughout the entire show, finally started.
So the crowd was getting soaked as he sang the lines about washing his eyelids in the rain. As the rain washed our eyelids the song ended and the rain stopped.
Then he did several more perfect encores and I thought… Maybe he really is the little Jew who wrote the bible.