It’s taken him the lion share of his 39 years on this mortal coil, but Adam Cohen has finally reconciled himself with the association and implications of being ‘The Son of Leonard’.
Cohen Jnr first officially entered the family trade 13 years ago with an MTV-slanted eponymous album of adult pop and has since gone on to release a French language effort and play in the band Low Millions. But he’s avoided trading on his father’s legacy like the plague and been dropped from his fair share of record labels in the process.
Becoming a father seems to have been his Road to Damascus moment and now we have third solo album Like A Man, released last month. The record is Adam’s unabashed homage to his father’s early work, most notably 1974’s New Skin For The Old Ceremony. It’s a brave move, and one not without its risks.
The tender opener Sweet Dominique saw him set out his stall as an old fashioned troubadour in the classic mould at this seated Thekla show. What Other Guy - an album stand-out - shone here in its live incarnation, too, as a nicely observed relationship sketch.
The gently swaying title track of the new album made for another highpoint.
Despite his less than stellar recording career, he’s grown into a confident on-stage performer with a nice line in easy-going banter and anecdotes. Ditch those Ugg boots though, Adam.
The comparisons now between son and father are both unavoidable and totally appropriate. The voice, inflections and subject matter were spookily similar at several points and that’s an entirely good thing. Why fend off what comes naturally just for the sake of contrariness, after all?
But at times, Cohen Jnr’s lack of lyrical originality does become rather glaring. Girls These Days and Eleanor traversed hackneyed ground which didn’t cut the mustard.
Full marks though for the smart deconstruction of Marvin Gaye’s classic What’s Going On, and yes, Leonard did get a look in on the setlist thanks to a heart-warming version of So Long, Marianne. “Oh you’re recording this one are you?” he chides the audience in mock indignation as they reach for their camera phones. It’s a cross he’s happy to bear nowadays, though. His new skin for the old ceremony seems to fit him rather well.