Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen forced to reschedule UK tour dates that clash with Jewish religious festival


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Singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen has been forced to reschedule two UK concerts after he realised they clashed with Jewish religious festivals.

The iconic 78-year-old performer, whose songs include "Suzanne" and "Hallelujah", is currently on his Old Ideas World Tour and is due to play seven dates in the UK starting next month.

However, the promoter AEG was forced to release a statement saying that when Cohen “learned that two of his UK concerts were scheduled on days of solemn religious observance, he respectfully asked AEG to move the dates”.

It continued: “We at AEG, and Leonard, apologise deeply for the inconvenience this will cause,” adding they hoped the fans would understand.

The concert due to be staged in Leeds on 5 September has been moved back two days as it clashes with Rosh Hashanah.

Another performance at London’s O2 Arena would have conflicted with Yom Kippur but has now been scheduled for a day later on 15 September. Cohen has already played the O2 this summer, receiving rave reviews.

Cohen was described by the New York Times as an observant Jew and he keeps the Sabbath even while on tour.

He is also interested in Buddhism, and was ordained as a Buddhist monk in 1996, but added it was not the search for a new religion. “I’m quite happy with the old one, with Judaism,” he has said.

Religion has been a consistent theme throughout Cohen’s career, and a number of his songs reference Jewish religious themes including "Story of Isaac" and "Hallelujah". 

The Canadian musician, who released his first album Songs of Leonard Cohen in 1967, reluctantly returned to touring in 2008 following a 15-year break, after his money was misappropriated.

Following the huge success of that world tour, which was extended into 2010 and received over a hundred five-star reviews, he decided to tour again following the release of the Old Ideas album last year.

Some reviewers have likened his concerts to religious gatherings, according to an article written by Sylvie Simmons who wrote the biography I’m Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen.


Watch an amateur video of Leonard Cohen's recent performance at The O2 in London: