The only specific part of the concert I recall [other than the music] were Leonard`s first words to the audience, ‘It’s nice to be in Newcastle, the only city that has a bagpipe museum.’ There was no reaction from the crowd – so he repeated the line. This time it received a warm and enthusiastic response!
John Corless, in response to my question about what he recalled about the March 22, 1972 Leonard Cohen concert at City Hall in Newcastle.
Leonard Cohen’s concerts have often included a recognizable local reference.1 His onstage banter has been studded, for example, with shout-outs to poets who lived or worked in the area as well as allusions to indigenous foods and animals (e.g., New Zealand’s Colossal Squid), geographical and architectural landmarks, local politics, and his own residences in London, Greece, and Montreal.
I am especially fond of the bagpipe museum reference, perhaps because it demonstrates a trait the Canadian singer-songwriter and I share – neither of us (apparently) considers the audience’s failure to recognize a great line as a reason to give up on it. It’s a matter of artistic integrity.
There was indeed a Bagpipe Museum, comprising the bagpipe collection of William Alfred Cocks (1892 – 1971), a clockmaker, housed at the Black Gate, Newcastle upon Tyne, at the time of the concert. In 1986, however, the collection was loaned to Castle Morpeth Borough Council and is now located in Morpeth’s medieval Chantry buildings.2
Bonus: The Newcastle Concert Review & Leonard Cohen Interview
In researching the concert, I came across a review of the show and an interview with Leonard Cohen I had not previously seen. Highlights and links to the original article are found at Leonard Cohen “This is probably my last tour”
Credit Due Department: The story about the bagpipe museum opening was contributed by John Corless
Note: Originally posted Mar 24, 2012 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric