Still miserable after all these years, Cohen goes back on tour

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The Independent Culture

Leonard Cohen, the troubadour of melancholy whose career as a poet, writer and musician has spanned more than half a century, is to embark on a world tour featuring eight dates in Britain.

The 73-year-old made his announcement following his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in New York alongside Madonna. It is the first time in 15 years that Cohen has taken to the road.

He will open in his native Canada in June before travelling to Europe where he will play a series of concerts including Glastonbury and the Montreux Jazz Festival, concluding with two nights at the Opera House in Vienna.

Fans will be able to catch him at the Manchester Opera House, the O2 in London and Edinburgh Castle as well as the Big Chill festival at Ledbury.

Rob Hallet, of promoters AEG Live, said: "For many this tour will be the once in a lifetime opportunity to see the legend that is Leonard Cohen. We as a company are honoured to bring this long-rumoured tour to reality across the globe."

Cohen's songs explore themes of isolation and complex relationships and have little commercial appeal. Yet despite this he remains one of the most recorded and influential songwriters in history, with his work being covered more than 1,330 times by other artists, most famously by Jeff Buckley who recorded "Hallelujah" on his 1994 album Grace.

Also among his followers is Lou Reed, who he first met at the notorious Chelsea Hotel in New York in the 1960s. The former Velvet Underground star described him at Monday night's ceremony as "without question one of the most important and influential songwriters of our time, a figure whose body of work achieves greater mystery and depth as time goes on."

Other fans included the late Johnny Cash as well as Rufus Wainwright, Nick Cave and REM.

Cohen began his career as a poet while still studying at McGill University, producing his first book Let Us Compare Mythologies in 1956, and a series of novels in the 1960s including Beautiful Losers. But it was as a performer on the New York folk scene that he came to popular attention, signing for Columbia Records and writing "Suzanne", later a hit for Judy Collins.

His 1967 album Songs of Leonard Cohen made him famous in Britain yet the reclusive star was to spend the following decades embroiled in a spiritual quest which saw him spend five years as a Buddhist monk.

A long-running legal battle against his former manager left him financially destitute but age has done little to dim his output with further music, collections of poetry and drawings continuing to appear. In October 2004, he released Dear Heather, a musical collaboration with the jazz chanteuse Anjani Thomas. He also received a Grammy nomination in 2007. In 2003 he was made a Companion of the Order of Canada.