I had never seen Keith James live before tonight, but what he does he does well. He is a favourite amongst Radio 2 listeners, and a big producer of folk and roots music. He is currently recreating the music of one of his favourites artist and touring under the banner of 'The Songs Of Leonard Cohen', which is also the title of Cohen's first album.

This gig on the 31st January is the first show for Keith after the release of Cohen's latest album, 'Old Ideas', which came out the day before. It is Keith's 104th show of doing more then justice to the old laughing boy from Canada. He has a true gentleman's grace to him, and I would like to thank him for the kind hospitality he showed towards me on the night.

He delivered two sets along with his partner, Lou Hill. The fact that this project is less then a year old surprised me as it seemed to me that he had been doing this forever. The project came out of his Canadian songbook project where they play tribute to the Canadian greats of Cohen, Joni Mitchell and Neil Young.

Keith plays the songs in his own way. He hasn't got the coffee and cigarette-tainted gravel of Cohen, but his playing and understanding of the mighty Leonard is that of a true craftsman, which does more than justice to his songs, He also plays tribute to Federico Garcia Lorca, whom was an influence on Cohen as a poet, and puts to music several songs that were were just poems by Cohen himself. He also delivers a song by Neil Young, that I'm not familiar with, while Lou sings a lovely tune by Joni Mitchell.

Keith knows we are all here to celebrate Cohen, and that we are all, musicians and audience alike, there for the same reason. His set is full of joy, rather than just being readings of the songs. They are his versions, of course, and he talks to the crowd a lot, admits before playing one song that a member walked out of it, and then plays 'Suzanne' at a super fast speed. We all have a super sing-a -long with 'Hallelujah'. The world is a much better place with the Keith James of this world.









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Commenting On: Musician, Leicester, 31/1/2012 - Keith James








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