I’ve often pondered the seductive nature of music and the people who make it. What is it about this art in particular that can draw people blindly under its spell, giving God-like power to those who wield its magic wand?
After experiencing Adam Cohen’s musical prowess Friday night at Théâtre Maisonneuve, I’m sure he could give us some answers. He has obviously perfected the art of musical seduction. I went to the concert detached, confidently immune to the Cohen allure, never really having understood the attraction of my older female friends to Cohen père, not really clear on the status of Cohen fils. I had very much enjoyed interviewing the younger Cohen back in the fall, but didn’t fully get how people could be so into listening to a young man croon about the beauty of a seemingly endless list of women, of the delicious moments where their beauty opened up like a flower, leaving an aroma that is a song, as Cohen told us by way of introduction to the presumably lucky Dominique. Call me a cynic, but I just find that cheesy.
Well I get it now. It was impossible not to love Cohen and his band and the entire production. By the end of the show my Friday fatigue had dissipated; I was laughing and clapping and humming along with the rest of the packed venue. Young and old, female and male, every last person overflowed with justified adoration. The tunes were well-rehearsed, expertly executed, and beautifully arranged for the six-piece band that included two violins and a cello, as well as drums, keys, guitars and bass. His between-the-songs banter, almost exclusively in perfect French, was entertaining, endearing, and just self-deprecating enough; and the mood was perfected with the help of innovative and beautiful stage lighting. I’ve never seen Cohen perform before, but I can safely say that in coming to terms with his family name and legacy he has established his own unique musical identity.
Most of the songs were from his last two albums, Like a Man, and We Go Home. Highlights included the harmony-laden Don’t Crack, the duet Dominique (despite the cheesy intro), and What Kind of Woman, where at least he’s honest: “And the Lord spoke, and she said ‘For Abraham Lincoln it was free the slaves, for you Adam Cohen all it says is get him laid.’” Love Is was also great, as was the more politically inflected encore Uniform. And I thought it was awesome that the last song of the show (pre-encore) was a moving homage to his seven-year old son. Cohen’s lyrics really are topnotch, as are all the musicians, and the stage chemistry between them makes for a fantastic live show.
A successful seduction balances the right mix of authenticity and artifice, sincerity and sensitivity, playfulness and determination, and Cohen’s got that mix down.