- 21 Dec 16
2003's Came So Far For Beauty gig and a chance LA meeting are fondly remembered...
“Back in 2003, I participated in Hal Wilner’s Came So Far For Beauty tribute concerts in Dublin’s Point Theatre. They were amazing shows, because a lot of the people who had collaborated with Cohen were involved, especially the girl singers who had sung on some of his albums. It was quite a challenge. Hal was very much devil’s advocate – he would put A and Z together, just to stir things up. I was performing with a brilliant Canadian singer called Mary Margaret O’Hara, and we did a duet on ‘Hallelujah’, which by that stage had gone through the stratosphere. It had become the most famous Cohen song, although I don’t think it’s the greatest by any means.
“I think everyone fell in love with Jeff Buckley’s rendition of it, and that enhanced it, cos Leonard Cohen’s version isn’t the greatest. Anyway, I did that version of ‘Hallelujah’ with Mary Margaret, and she has a unique style, it’s almost like Tourette’s jazz. And I had an outlandish approach to it as well. By the end, half the audience were on their feet applauding, and the other half were on their feet vomiting! But those shows were extraordinary. You had Nick Cave, Lou Reed, Antony Hegarty, Laurie Anderson, Jarvis – a really eclectic bunch of people.
“I did actually meet Leonard. I was in Los Angeles, and I didn’t think I was gonna meet him, cos I was working at the time. I was taking notes on something, and Lian Lunson, who’s a good friend of mine – she made the film about Leonard, I’m Your Man – was going, ‘Hey Gav, I’ve got to introduce you to someone!’ I turn around, and he’s standing there with his hat, impeccably dressed. It’s only happened to me two or three times ever, where I actually got a little gobsmacked. I said something like, ‘I have all your albums.’ Like a fucking 14-year-old!
“Of the gigs I saw, my favourite was the big comeback one, the first of the shows in Kilmainham. They were quite euphoric, and it really was a special night. When he did an a cappella version of ‘A Thousand Kisses Deep’, I was like, ‘Oh fuck’. It was just over for me. It had me in tears, it was that powerful. To do that with one microphone, in a fucking field – I’ve never seen anything like it.”
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