First, they take the NAC
A decade or so ago, a couple of my colleagues were sitting in a famous Montreal delicatessen and realized they were sitting next to two celebrities -- Leonard Cohen and Pierre Trudeau, heads bowed in deep conversation, sipping milkshakes. It shouldn't have been a surprise -- these two Montreal icons, ladies' men in their times, obviously enjoyed an enduring friendship. When Trudeau died in the fall of 2000, Cohen was one of the pallbearers at the funeral. Click here for one of Jean-Marc Carisse's legendary photographs, or better yet, go to Carisse's lovely gallery/cafe on Sussex Drive in Ottawa.
Last night, for the first time in more than 20 years, Cohen performed a concert in Ottawa. While there were no overt political statements during the incredible, three-hour performance -- beyond a grateful reference to the troops in Afghanistan when Cohen introduced his song Anthem -- it did have a Liberal feel.
Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff and his wife, Zsuzsanna, sat in a box overlooking the stage at the National Arts Centre, along with NAC head Peter Herndorff. They were on their feet, along with the rest of the audience, through multiple standing ovations and Cohen's awe-inspiring encore. Former governor-general Adrienne Clarkson and husband John Ralston Saul were also in the audience. And Justin Trudeau, son of Cohen's old friend and now an MP himself, was sitting up in the front rows of the sold-out performance.
It could be that the second show, tonight, will be more dotted with Conservative celebrities. But it was hard to shake the feeling last night, watching Cohen and his audience, that for Liberals, he's their man.