Poet, songwriter Leonard Cohen returns to Montreux stage

The 73-year-old is one of the highlights of the two-week jazz festival

Posted: Thursday, July 10, 2008

MONTREUX, Switzerland - Leonard Cohen returned to the Montreux Jazz Festival on Tuesday for his first concert there in 23 years.

Cohen, who composed the songs "Suzanne," "Bird on a Wire" and the much-covered "Hallelujah," as well as the lesser-known "The Future," is on his first major tour since 1994. Earlier this year he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame alongside Madonna and John Mellencamp.

The 73-year-old songwriter is among the highlights of the two-week music extravaganza held every year on the shores of Lake Geneva.

Four-time Grammy winner Erykah Badu opened the event on Friday.

Joan Baez, k.d. lang and last year's Montreux discovery Sophie Hunger played an all-female night on Sunday, while Herbie Hancock, Al Jarreau, Chaka Khan and Angelique Kidjo will perform at a 75th birthday celebration for music impresario Quincy Jones on July 14.

Alicia Keys, Pete Doherty's band Babyshambles, Lenny Kravitz and Paul Simon will also be playing at Montreux.

The event, which is in its 42nd year, also features a host of free concerts including performances by jazz emsembles from the universities of Kansas, Minnesota and South Alabama.

The festival was originally held at the old Montreux Casino, which burned down in December 1971 during Frank Zappa's performance. ("Smoke on the Water" by Deep Purple tells that story.)

Organizers say they expect 220,000 people to visit the festival, which ends July 19.

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