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Saturday, November 15, 2008

We love you

To the 02 Arena for the first time to see an immaculate show by Leonard Cohen.

The audience didn't behave like crowds of 20,000 tend to do. When the house lights were extinguished there wasn't the usual delighted cheer. As far as I could tell there was only one person in that whole crowd who felt the need to announce their location with a war whoop. People applauded instrumental solos when they were distinguished enough to demand it. What conversation there was was kept to manageable levels, suggesting these people had all been to libraries or funerals and were therefore familiar with the principle of shutting the fuck up on occasion.

Inevitably they took pictures on their mobile phones but that's a form of madness too far advanced to turn back. And, inevitably also, some person felt moved to wait until there was a silence and then shout "We love you, Leonard!" What possesses such people? Do they imagine that this makes the artist feel secure? Or does it increase their worry that out there in the dark lurks the odd person who might turn up in their kitchen in the middle of the night with a knife or dedicate their lives to drawing full-sized portraits of them?

I've been at James Taylor shows where women shout this. To be fair, women have the decency to say "I love you, James", thereby at least claiming personal responsibility for the sentiment. Taylor has an elegant way of deflecting such compliments. "That's very nice of you but I think it's best we don't know each other."