As Sweet As Apples Dipped In Honey: Leonard Cohen’s 75th birthday gig in Barcelona

I’ve just written a couple of paragraphs on how I felt after my return from the Leonard Cohen concert in Barcelona on 21st September (his 75th birthday) and then promptly scrapped them again. Firstly, I couldn’t type as fast as my thoughts kept bubbling out of me and, secondly, they somehow didn’t even come close to what I really wanted to express.  So instead I’ve picked a few thoughts shared by others during the days after the gig. They really moved me and collectively give you an idea of the magic we experienced that Monday night in September on the top of the hill of Montjuic in Barcelona, one of my favourite cities in the world.

Leonard & Guitar 2

From a young Spanish fan:

AMAZING!!!!!!!! My heart is still beating, my legs still trembling, my arms still shaking!!!!! I know many people around here have seen Leonard many many times but for me… tonight has been a dream come true! I’m only 22… (BloodBrother)

From a couple whose first Leonard concert it was:

Barcelona was our first Leonard Cohen concert, an anniversary present to ourselves, we have been fans for many years. The whole evening was such a fantastic emotional experience that we didn’t want it to end, but of course it had to. Even getting pickpocketed the next day in the Parc Guell did not take the shine off our stay in Barcelona. …It has been five days now and still the music flows through my head, how can I get it to stop… (shazzan01)

Reply by another forum member:

It won’t stop. I saw Len in July & I’m still on a high from that gig. (musicmania)

On Leonard and the band:

 …something has happened over the months. They are more than Leonard and the band/singers. They are family. They have also become “family” to us, and because of that, the concerts are now something transcendent. Above and beyond the norm. (ladydi)

And this one which still brings tears to my eyes when I read it:

An old man sitting in my row appeared to be in floods of tears throughout the second half of the concert. I looked again carefully and noticed that the man was me. (abeggarleaning)

All quotes taken from


This is a recent Irish Times article by Eamon Maher on the effect Leonard’s music can have on us: ‘Cohen’s songs of suffering move us with power similar to prayer’

P.S. My most favourite of all the favourite moments during the concert was when Leonard sang Suzanne. All of us who had been at the forum meet-up in Barcelona that afternoon got given thin green candles (because in his song ‘One Of Us Cannot Be Wrong’ it says ‘I lit a thin green candle, to make you jealous of me’) and had agreed to light them when Suzanne came on. It was the most touching thing to feel connected to the 120+ others dotted around the place who were holding their candles up like little beacons of gratitude illuminating the darkness of the concert hall. Here is some footage of it.

Some more videos from the concert can be found here.

And this is how Dino Soldo, one of Leonard’s fabulous band members, commented about our candles on twitter:

To all the friends in Leonard Cohen’s Barcelona gig; Your Birthday candles brought a tear to my eye. He was touched. 

birthday candle cropped

When Leonard said goodbye to us that night in Barcelona with a traditional Jewish wish for a sweet new year ‘may your life be sweet as apples dipped in honey’ we were left with a mixture of utter elation and gratefulness yet also more than just a touch of sadness. Who knows if or when we would ever see him again? But I guess life is as much about celebrating its joyful moments as it is about being able to let go of what we deeply cherish and accepting it as something we cannot hold onto forever. What we can hold onto for as long as we live, however, is our treasured memories (see also my post on Leonard’s Dublin gigs). And one thing is for sure: when a four year old in the audience is already excitedly singing along to Leonard Cohen’s songs, his music and poetry are still going to be around long long after we are all gone.


One response to “As Sweet As Apples Dipped In Honey: Leonard Cohen’s 75th birthday gig in Barcelona

  1. WOW! I wish I’d seen it. Great for you!!

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