By Ian Jobling
Noosa entertainer Jonathan Anstock showed it isn’t only “big names from the glittering world of showbiz” who can pack a theatre.
It was standing room only last Saturday night at the Majestic Theatre in Pomona when Jonathan, in an all too brief two hours, presented ‘The Spirit of Leonard Cohen’ – his personal cabaret-style tribute to the Canadian singer-songwriter who died four years ago.
Complete with hat and charcoal-grey suit, the Cohen look-a-like Jonathan strolled on stage and from the moment he started his first of 17 songs, ‘Dance Me to the End of Love’, he had the audience enthralled.
In addition to his ability to sustain the character of Leonard Cohen, other highlights of the show were the versatility of musicians Janet Brewer, especially in ‘Hallelujah’ (keyboard) and Warren Brewer (bass guitar). Backing singers Sherelle Scott and Marianne Johnston featured admirably in ‘If It Be Your Will,’ and ‘Alexandra Leaving’.
Clearly, Cohen was much more a songwriter than a singer and that is evident historically by the popularity of his many songs recorded by singers who outsold Cohen in sales. For example, k d lang’s ‘Hallelujah.’
All credit to Jonathan as, in his narration throughout the entire concert he provided background and context for the extensive repertoire. ‘Cohen’s’ reminiscences of his time on the island of Hydra with Charmian Clift and George Johnston were one example.
For those who knew little about this acclaimed songwriter’s long and frequent bouts of depression, it helped explain much about the lyrics of Cohen’s well- and lesser-known songs. Anstock’s rendition of ‘Song Long Marianne’ was very moving.
Repeat performances of ‘The Spirit of Leonard Cohen: his story and his songs’ will be on June 5 – Coolum Civic Centre, and June 25 & 26 – Noosa Arts Theatre. Proceeds from the concerts in Noosa will go the Katie Rose Cottage Hospice. For more information email inquire @leonardcohenspirit.com