When I was invited along to Adam Cohen’s Union Chapel performance, I didn’t know what to expect; afterall we are talking the son of THE Leonard Cohen, inductee of the American and Canadian Music Halls of Fame, and the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame; the child of a man “belonging to the highest and most influential echelon of songwriters.” (- Lou Reed, 2008)
Part of me was cynical, and ready to dismiss Adam as simply his fathers son; an opportunistic individual, lucky enough to be laboured with the Cohen name, and exploiting that inevitable attention. The other half of me, however, was intrigued and anticipative; hopeful that this long overdue collection of songs would grab my heart and wring it sore; hopeful that the Cohen artistic genius would show itself to be a heritable gene. After all, when discussing his new album Like a Man, Adam had declared it his ‘coming of age’ record; an interesting observation for the 39 year old to make.
When I walked into Union Chapel and took my seat amongst the buzzing crowd, I couldn’t help but notice the interesting balance of people in the audience; young and old, these were his fathers fans, accompanied by their children and grandchildren; a social arrangement more associated with family holidays than nights out on the town!
From what I could surmise, Adam Cohen is a ticket for parents wanting to seem ‘cool’ to their kids; in the same way that my mother loves the admiration I hold for her first hand knowledge of Mary Quant, Twiggy, and The Beatles. Young people will be impressed by parents who introduce them to Adam Cohen; and something tells me that the next time he plays London, the venue will be even bigger than the one he filled this night.
The Union Chapel was the perfect setting for Cohen’s performance; one of the most lavish and striking concert venues in the nations capital, it is a space which seems to demand greatness from its musical patrons, and inspire the hearts of those in attendance. Cohen is a man who by his own admittance hangs with some less than austere characters; but something about his openness and sincerity worked well with the chapel setting. I have always been a fan of clashing elements, and his beautiful arrangements beat old fashioned church hymns in my books! I came to church, and I was inspired; isn’t that what counts? The sensation of being inspired reminded me of a Lucy Montgomery quote:
“If I really wanted to pray I’ll tell you what I’d do. I’d go out into a great big field all alone or into the deep, deep, woods, and I’d look up into the sky–up–up–up–into that lovely blue sky that looks as if there was no end to its blueness. And then I’d just FEEL a prayer!”
Adam Cohen’s words are elegant and brash; sexy and smart at the same time. He speaks in simple truths about past
relationships; “I know the kind of things that make you laugh, the way you tilt your head for a photograph”; and “Toi Jane..
viens retrouver ton mec. Prends ton sac de nuit et la chemise qui va avec” . A multi-linguist with a universal playboy-ish charm; Adam Cohen gives off the impression that he could speak sumptuous filth into your ear, and make his audience blush in a number of different languages! He is not ‘just’ his fathers son; Adam Cohen IS his fathers son; and in that, he is the type of charismatic, charming performer, that is seen less and less these days. In an era defined by 12 year old pop stars; made-to-order boy bands, and overzealous autotune; Cohen is a breath of warm, seductive air. He doesn’t just sing; he performs, he charms, he laughs, and he captivates.
An ovation must go out to Cohen’s fantastically talented two piece band, comprised of the beautiful cellist/guitarist Mai Bloomfield; and Adam’s constant friend, and celebrated multi-instrumentalist, Michael Chaves (John Mayer/Ben Lee/Natasha Bedingfield/Iggy Pop/Five for Fighting…). The two performed in their own right, seducing the room with alluring and crisp arrangements of Adam’s songs, and laughing and playing along with Adam as he exchanged in playful, inebriated banter with his audience. I also really enjoyed a moment where the bands tour manager came on stage and played some blues harmonica for us!
Regardless of how this record is received by the masses, Like a Man gets my thumbs up. Adam Cohen is every inch his father’s son; inescapable Rock and Roll royalty; a man lumbered with a name which brings such heights of artistic expectation with it. His choice to “throw himself to the dogs” and follow in his fathers celebrated footsteps, is perhaps inevitable, but certainly brave; and I’m one of a growing number who will be coming back for more.
© Ngawara Madison, Music Vice
Photo gallery – Adam Cohen at Union Chapel, London; photos by Rob Hargreaves for MusicVice.com:
(n.b. click to enlarge each photo from the attachment page)
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