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Best Of Leonard Cohen World Tour 2008-2009

Special Photos, Music, Videos, Events, Oddities, & Insights
From The Leonard Cohen 2008-2009 World Tour1

Note: 2010 Tour highlights are  at Best Of Leonard Cohen World Tour 2010

Last Updated: 12 April 2010
Click on images for best viewing

Sexiest “I’m Your Man” Ever? Leonard Cohen At Radio City Music Hall, May 17, 2009

The Luminously Libidinous Leonard Cohen Will “examine every, every precious inch of you”

I belatedly found this video recording of the six minutes of lasciviousness that was Leonard Cohen’s May 17, 2009 performance of “I’m Your Man” at New York’s Radio City Music Hall. Words cannot convey – at least not words I can safely use in a post my mother might someday read – the raunchy eroticism that radiates from Cohen’s lyrics, voice, intonation, footwork, facial expressions, and posture.

Leonard Cohen at Radio City Music Hall – I’m Your Man

Video from sasaradovanovic82

More Than A Review Of Record Of The Year

Record Of The Year: Leonard Cohen by Steve Klingaman at Open Salon is not only an excellent review of Live In London, the CD/DVD of Leonard Cohen’s 2008 London O2 Concert but also one of the best summaries of the Leonard Cohen World Tour itself. Excerpts follow but the entire piece is an enlightening read.

Today, I would bring another presence to the forefront, one who is both a legend and a player at the margins of visibility. That man is Leonard Cohen. His extended tour, which began in 2008 and next spring winds back to Europe, spawned a record, “Live in London.” It would be my choice for record of the year.

… Cohen mounted a definitive world tour that reintroduced a good-sized chunk of his oeuvre to new fans as well as his notoriously loyal fan base. Cohen is 75. In a practiced stage patter he remarks that his last time out on tour was 15 years ago, when he was 60, “just a kid with a crazy dream.” … he is a road warrior of the most humble and elegant stripe.

… Backed by a top-notch band, some of whom have worked with him since the 1980s, Cohen uses the palette of a contemporary electric band to create atmospheric settings for his songs that allow his signature rasp, his “choir,” and his amazing soloists to shine through.

… “Live in London” is an astonishing record by an astonishing master of song. Not to clutter up the conversation with irrelevant and clichéd comparisons to his near-peers, it is fair to say that no one writes like Cohen. … A master of the minor third, and sometimes partisan of the deepest Flamenco modes, he casts brilliantly simple melodies to deceptively simple music. Anyone who has ever heard “Hallelujah” can have no doubt of this.

And then there are the lyrics. Drop-dead gorgeous. The best of the best rhyme-saying of the more classical, lyrical, dance-of-the-intellect school. And then they break your heart. As his friend, the seminal Canadian poet Irving Layton once said, “His whole life is the best argument, his work is the argument.”

Roscoe Beck’s direction yields results that are more or less modern chamber music, crossed with slinky R&B couture, and honed to a single breath—Cohen’s. Cohen credits them profusely throughout the concert. In fact, his constant credits following solos constitutes one of the few distractions on the record. It’s like, alright already, I know ‘em. But that is merely Cohen’s grace and manners talking. You cannot doubt his sincerity.

In his words:

“It is pleasant to work with people that you know. But it’s more pleasant to work with people that are gifted. And it’s most pleasant of all to work with people you know who are gifted.”

… Musician friends of mine from Montreal clued me in to the power of this concert last fall, when, independently, a number of them recounted how this was the best concert they had ever seen. One who said this has shared the stage with the likes of Emmy Lou Harris and Linda Ronstadt. So I paid attention and was rewarded in March by an experience that is a delight to share in some part via this recording of a historic tour. I asked my wife yesterday—“What is your favorite concert ever?” “Leonard Cohen,” she said, without missing a beat.

Where it comes from, I don’t know. Many years ago, Cohen said, “Anybody who writes songs knows that it’s nothing they command. You are the instrument of something else.” But he has managed, at some personal cost I would bet, to channel this vein for 50 years. That is simply amazing. And after it all, Cohen would deny us the accolades and instead offer one of his masterful self-deprecating one liners, like, “I only have one chop. But it’s a good chop.” Cohen ultimately comes down to the screwed up sanctity of life, and experience—and he does it with a wink, a nod, and on bended knee. His prayers are ours.

The complete review is available at Record Of The Year: Leonard Cohen

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Photo by mutgoff and published on yfrog

Leonard Cohen San Jose Concert Highlights

Closing Time - San Jose with blouse in upper right being flung to stage

Closing Time - San Jose with blouse in upper right being flung to stage

Women Tear Their Blouses Off At Closing Time Of Leonard Cohen San Jose Concert

Yeah the women tear their blouses off
and the men they dance on the polka-dots

From “Closing Time” by Leonard Cohen

Albert Noonan, better known in Cohen Country as albertnoonan, Vizier Of Videography, was good enough to alert us that minors should be removed from the room prior to the viewing of this recording in order to shield innocent children from exposure to this raucous rendition of the classic Cohen tune.

Yes, what you see is what happened – feminine clothing is repeatedly launched from the audience onto the stage, whoops are whooped, the unflappable Leonard Cohen loses his place in the song (1:18), and, in general, a good time is apparently had by all.

Leonard Cohen – Closing Time (San Jose, 10/13/2009)

Video from albertnoonan

Leonard Cohen – First We Take Manhattan (San Jose, 11/13/2009)

Video from albertnoonan

Leonard Cohen – So Long Marianne (San Jose, 11/13/2009)

Video from albertnoonan

Dino Soldo Executes Full Cohen Kneel At Leonard Cohen San Jose Concert

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Dino Soldo in Full Cohen Kneel

The Dino Dialectic

Perhaps the most prevalent criticism of the Leonard Cohen World Tour concerts has been that Dino Soldo’s solos and the associated gymnastics are too intrusive, too distracting, or just too much.

Perhaps the element of the Leonard Cohen World Tour concerts most frequently praised by fans – other than Leonard Cohen’s performance itself – has been Dino Soldo’s solos and the associated gymnastics.

Both sides were provided with new evidence of their positions at the November 13, 2009 San Jose show.

For the first time in a sanctioned event, Dino Soldo, starting in the Modified Perch position on the sound monitor apparatus, transitions into a Full Cohen Kneel during his harmonica solo in “I Tried To Leave You,” sticks it, pumps thrice, then adds an unexpected Kneeling Sidestep lateral movement, and finally ascends, returning to his position on the sound monitor.

The applause from the appreciative audience extends past his dismount until the next competitor begins.

Leonard Cohen – I Tried To Leave You (San Jose, 11/13/2009)

While the video will automatically begin during Dino Soldo’s solo, a few seconds before he goes to his knees, I heartily recommend restarting the video afterward to watch the entire performance of the song. This can be accomplished by simply dragging the button on the timeline at the bottom of the screen back to the far left and clicking on the arrow.

Video from albertnoonan

Credit Due Department: I was alerted to this exceptional piece of action by bridger15

Leonard Cohen Las Vegas Concert Highlights

The November 12, 2009 Las Vegas Concert was the first time Leonard Cohen performed both “Feels So Good” (formerly known as “The Other Blues Song”) and “Darkness” in the same show. These new songs have each been played only a handful of times and, as far as I can discern, each rendition has constituted a unique version, distinctly different from the same song played at other concerts.2

Leonard Cohen – Feels So Good (Las Vegas, 11/12/2009)

Video from albertnoonan

Leonard Cohen – The Darkness (Las Vegas, 11/12/2009)

Video from albertnoonan

Leonard Cohen – Suzanne (Las Vegas, 11/12/2009)

Video from albertnoonan

Leonard Cohen – Gypsy Wife (Las Vegas, 11/12/2009)

Video from albertnoonan

Viva Leonard Cohen In Las Vegas

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In anticipation of the Leonard “Lounge Lizard” Cohen Las Vegas concert, bridgebud uploaded this clip of the marquee at Caesar’s Palace prior to the show.

The Heck Of A Guy Alternative

While Caesars Palace has done an adequate job promoting the Cohen performance, I prefer the version set forth in First We Take Manhattan, Then We Go Vegas – The Leonard Cohen Girls! Girls! Girls! Las Vegas Revue

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Leonard Cohen Las Vegas Tour – Webb Sisters Sublime In Latex

The theme, touted in the marketing memos as “classic, classy cabaret,” is apparent in the alterations made in the portion of the show featuring the Sublime Webb Sisters” – who will be presented at the Las Vegas gig as the “Sublime Webb Mistresses.” The tentative script for Cohen’s introduction of them begins, “Confuse them with the Sisters Of Mercy at your own risk – they are the … ”

Their customized for Vegas version of “If It Be Your Will” – renamed for the occasion, “That’s ‘If It Be Our Will,’ Biatch” – will be the first performance of that song to feature handcuffs, a variety of leather implements, battery cables, and a volunteer from the audience.3

Leonard Cohen Las Vegas Concert TV Ad

Even more thematically indicative, however, is this rough cut of the TV ad being produced to to promote the World Tour Las Vegas concert.

Leonard Cohen – Las Vegas Concert Ad

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Credit Due Department: The photo atop this blog was taken by bridger15, the LeonardCohenForum identity of bridgebud on YouTube.

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The Other Other Blues Song Debuts At Tennessee Performing Arts Center

“Darkness,” first captured on video three months ago during the Venice soundcheck,4 reappeared a few hours ago in its first official public presentation at the Leonard Cohen Nashville concert. (“That Other Blues Song,”5 featured in the last three Cohen concerts,6 was not played in Nashville.)

Leonard Cohen – Darkness (Nashville TPAC, 11/5/2009)

Video by bridgebud

“Darkness” Lyrics
From LadyLilley at LeonardCohenForum

I caught the darkness baby,
Drinking from your cup,
I caught the darkness baby,
from your little ruby cup.
I said is this contagious?
You said ‘just drink it up’

I’ve got no future,
I know my days are few
The present’s not that pleasant
just a lot of things to do
I thought the past would last me
but the darkness got there too

I should have seen it coming
it was right behind your eyes
you were young and it was summer
ahhh-I had to take a dive
yeah winning you was easy
but the darkness was the prize

I don’t use no cigerette
and I can’t taste the alcohol
I ain’t had much loving yet
ah but that’s always been your call
ever since the darkness
doesn’t make much sense to me at all

I used to love the rainbow
And I used to love the view
I loved the early morning
and I pretended it was new
but I caught the darkness baby
and I got it worse than you

caught the darkness
drinking from your cup
I caught the darkness
drinking from your cup
I said is this contagious?
you said ‘just drink it up’

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Leonard Cohen Revises “Feels So Good” 3rd Time For Durham Show

The new Leonard Cohen song first presented at the Chicago Rosemont Theatre concert October 29, 2009 and adapted at the Asheville, NC show on November 1, 2009 was featured last night in Durham, NC in its third distinctly different incarnation.

“That Other Blues Song” has not only been a hit at the three concerts and among hard core Cohen fans but has also received a respectable amount of attention on general music sites.

Three Versions Of That Other Blues Song (Feels So Good)

To make comparisons easier, I’ve embedded players for the three current versions of “That Other Blues Song” – or, as I’ve now come to think of it, “Those Other Blues Songs

Leonard Cohen – That Other Blues Song – Feels So Good (Durham, 11/3/2009)

Video from dsotm07

Leonard Cohen – That Other Blues Song – Feels So Good (Rosemont Theatre, Chicago, 10/29/2009)

Video from albertnoonan

Leonard Cohen – That Other Blues Song – Feels So Good (Asheville NC, 11/1/2009)

Video from dsotm07

Lyrics

From the November 3, 2009 Durham, NC performance as transcribed by moubird at LeonardCohenForum

Well it feels so good
not to love you like I did.
Feels so good
not to love you like I did.
It’s like they tore away the blindfold and they said we’re gonna let this prisoner live.
It’s like they tore away the blindfold and they said we’re gonna let this prisoner live.

Feels so good
just to wake up in the morning by myself.
Cup of coffee in the kitchen, fire up a little danger to my health.
I got the same old broken heart but now it feels like it belongs to someone else.
I got the same old broken heart but now it feels like it belongs to someone else.

Ah but you visit me,
summon(?) me to the kingdoms(?) of the night.
And I show you how you broke me
doing every single thing that I like.
And I beg you not to leave me
and I try to go on sleeping, but the room’s too bright.
And I beg you not to leave me
and I try to go on sleeping, but the moon’s too bright.

Yeah it feels so good
not to love you like I did.
I don’t know why
ah, but it just did.
It’s like they tore away my blindfold and they said we’re gonna let this man live.
It’s like they tore away my blindfold and they said we’re gonna let this man live.

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Leonard Cohen World Tour To Continue Into 2010

Note the date on the above poster.

Yep, the 2008-2009 Leonard Cohen World Tour has announced 5 dates in France during March 2010:

  • March 1: Caen, Zenith
  • March 3: Lille, Zenith
  • March 5: Strasbourg, Zenith
  • March 7: Marseille, Le Dome
  • March 9: Grenoble, Palais des Sports
  • March 11: Tours, Le Grand Hall

Other 2010 Leonard Cohen concert dates will be announced soon.

Leonard Cohen Premieres “That Other Blues Song” At October 29, 2009 Chicago Concert

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The Leonard Cohen Chicago concert last night was another great performance in the chain of successes that has characterized the World Tour.

Oh, and Leonard Cohen playing “that other blues song”7 of his for the first time in concert was nice too.

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“That other blues song” was the designation Cohen used in the afternoon soundcheck to refer to the number he later slipped into the concert set list without introduction or explanation. A member of Cohen’s crew confirmed that it was the first official public performance of the song that has been rehearsed in the past few soundchecks.

While hardly the sort of blues one associates with Chicago, “That Other Blues Song” is exquisite, and, along with “The Darkness,” may (or may not) mark a transition back from Leonard Cohen writing songs on keyboards mode to Leonard Cohen writing songs on guitar mode.

The video – from albertnoonan, of course – is superb.

Leonard Cohen – Feels So Good, Baby, Not To Love You Like I Did (Rosemont Theatre, Chicago, 10/29/2009)

Videos From Leonard Cohen Oct 22, 2009 Philadelphia Concert

While Leonard Cohen has been a remarkably consistent performer throughout the World Tour, “Bird On The Wire” is one of his songs that does seem to vary in caliber from one concert to the next. My sense is that the difference in quality is a function of Cohen’s timing. I once listened to a recording of several takes of the same song during a Sinatra rehearsal and was struck by the impact that barely perceptible fluctuations in his timing had on his work. I think that principle may also hold true for Cohen’s “Bird On The Wire.” Hitting the phrases a fraction of a moment too late or too early would diminish the song.

Regardless, the performance of “Bird On The Wire” from the Oct 22, 2009 Philadelphia concert strikes me as precisely on the mark.

The video also features exemplary solos by Bob Metgar on guitar and Dino Soldo on saxophone, but it is clear that those efforts are an extra, a delectable bonus that is attendant upon rather than integrated into the essential core provided by Leonard Cohen.

Leonard Cohen – “Bird On The Wire” – Tower Theatre, Philadelphia – 10-22-09

Video from sturgess66

Leonard Cohen – “Hallelujah” – Tower Theatre, Philadelphia – 10-22-09

Video from sturgess66

Leonard Cohen – “I’m Your Man” – Tower Theatre, Philadelphia – 10-22-09

Video from sturgess66

Leonard Cohen & Band Travel Day

As its title suggests, “Travel Day for Leonard Cohen Band by Dino Soldo 10/14/2009″ is a cinema verite travelogue constructed around the bus-borne journey between hotels for the musicians and support staff of Leonard Cohen’s band. The video is narrated and directed by Dino Soldo, whose primary roles the past 16 months have been playing “instruments of the wind” at World Tour concerts and occasioning a certain amount of swooning among female fans. Mr Soldo is also, not coincidentally, the star of the flick with supporting roles played by crew, other band members, and backup singers.

A small speaking part, “man in hat occupying front seat of bus,” is adequately performed by one Leonard Cohen.

Travel Day for Leonard Cohen Band by Dino Soldo 10/14/2009

Leonard Cohen Displays Revised Repertoire In Fort Lauderdale

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Comments at LeonardCohenForum from fans who attended the performance and the videos of the actual songs from the concert reveal that several of the songs that have been mainstays of the World Tour for the past 16 months have been recast in new arrangements.

Rather than compose paragraphs of explication that would inevitably flounder in musicological muck, I offer a simple comparison and contrast example of this phenomenon.

Leonard Cohen – Waiting For The Miracle (Fort Lauderdale 10/17/2009)

Video from mayormyq

Compare that version with the same song performed by the same musicians just over two months ago in Lisbon.

Leonard Cohen – Waiting For The Miracle (Lisbon 8/3/2009)

Video from albertnoonan

Given the undeniable success and popularity of the World Tour and the fact that many of the venues scheduled for the final swing through the USA have never previously been the site of a Cohen concert, it would have been easy to argue that changes were unnecessary and perhaps contraindicated since the new formats could prove less popular than their predecessors.

Besides, shifts in the arrangements of songs would seem to have slight marketing potential. “The Leonard Cohen World Tour, now featuring a new, more complex lyrical formulation of Waiting For The Miracle” just doesn’t strike one as an effective TV commercial in Southern Florida markets.

Finally, there is the matter of logistics. Exactly when, during the hectic concert schedule, were the changes written in and rehearsed?

ftlauderdale-dino

The Concert Review To Read

At least one review, Leonard Cohen holds first-ever Florida concert in Sunrise by Sean Piccoli (South Florida Sun-Sentinel, October 18, 2009), went beyond the typical reports that listed the songs played and reprinted the standard Cohen cliches to offer some insight into the concert experience. Excerpts follow but do yourself a favor and read the entire piece at the link:

… Backed by nine players, all skilled and closely attuned to their frontman, Cohen sang more than two dozen of his emotionally eloquent songs, the centerpiece of every one of them being his unusual voice. Cohen’s dusky baritone is anything but trained, but in concert it helped give his confessional lyrics the weight of experience — good, bad and ambiguous.

Inside the slow, soulful waltz of “Bird on the Wire,” Cohen managed to sound both rueful and philosophical — perched between “I’m sorry” and “Oh, well”– when he sang, “I have torn everyone who reached out for me.” His singing was frank, but not without guile. (Emphasis mine. I think this is a wonderfully accurate and succinct characterization of Leonard Cohen’s songwriting an singing.)

… It had a way of authenticating language that could be considered archaic (“If It Be Your Will”) or abstract (“Famous Blue Raincoat”). To create a vocabulary for his spiritual self, his inner life, Cohen has dipped into poetry and scripture, and chosen words that might sound florid and dated in other contexts. Here — and partly because he’s been so good at getting every syllable to fit his voice — the lyricism is solid and durable.

… Cohen was also a pleasure to hear between numbers, and an absolute gentleman who kept finding inventive ways to thank the audience — “for climbing the vertiginous heights to your seats ? for braving the menacing, psychotic, abrasive qualities of people you don’t know ? for the warm and welcoming reception.”

… Cohen does have future dates lined up in other cities. And it’s not inconceivable that he would play Florida again. But his worldview, as spelled out in his songs, is about the fleeting nature of things. Whether or not he returns here, his thinking on Saturday seemed to be: Play like it’s your last time, because after that it’s all just memory and hindsight.

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More Music From The Leonard Cohen Ft Lauderdale Concert

Leonard Cohen – Who By Fire (Fort Lauderdale 10/17/2009)

Video from mayormyq

Leonard Cohen – Bird On A Wire (Fort Lauderdale 10/17/2009)

Video from mayormyq

Credit Due Department:

All of the outstanding photos of the Fort Lauderdale concert displayed in this post were taken by and used with the gracious permission of hassan.

Newly Surfaced Videos Of Earlier Concerts

Videos are frequently uploaded to YouTube and other sites days, weeks, or months after the concerts are over. Sometimes, these videos are of better quality than those uploaded in a more timely fashion or show some aspect of the performance more acutely than earlier videos. The following videos have only recently been made available but are clearly worthy of viewing.

Leonard Cohen – Suzanne (Istanbul, 6 August 09)

Video from halitkivanc

Leonard Cohen – Chelsea Hotel #28 (Istanbul, 6 August 09)

Video from halitkivanc

Leonard Cohen – Hallelujah (Tel Aviv 9/24/2009)

While this video is imperfect (much of it is shaky, parts are out of focus, the angle from the camera to the stage is severely acute, and shot selection is questionable in some instances), these flaws are more than compensated for by the videographer’s proximity to the stage (the video was shot from row 9), which allows for direct filming of the actual musicians on stage rather than views of the telescreens. Most impressive, however, are the views of the audience (some of these audience views are among most acutely focused scenes in the video) waving those green glow sticks, singing along, and applauding. Video from lempert3

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Outstanding Video Of Leonard Cohen’s Tel Aviv Priestly Blessing

This video, which only became available on YouTube nearly a week after the concert, offers a direct view of the onstage action itself rather than a recording of a telescreen projection.

A concise explication of the historical origins of the Priestly Blessing and Leonard Cohen’s specific connection to that tradition is available at The Legacy Of Leonard Cohen’s Tel Aviv Priestly Blessing And A Video Encore.

Leonard Cohen – Closing and Blessings (Tel Aviv Sept 24, 2009)

Video by PetSounds69

After 25 Year Absence, Leonard Cohen Sings In Israel

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Leonard Cohen Tel Aviv Concert -Sold-Out Ramat Gan Stadium

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Photo by baotzebao.

Leonard Cohen’s Priestly Blessings At The Tel Aviv Concert

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While perhaps not the most elegant or lyrical account of the Leonard Cohen Tel Aviv Concert, The High Priest, a post by Jerusalem Gypsy in the Jerusalem Wanderings blog may prove to be my favorite.

Jerusalem Gypsy, you see, admires Leonard Cohen and acknowledges that he is, indeed, The Man, but JG is not, as she points out, “a total fanatic.” And, although she seems confident of Cohen’s abilities, she is not willing to automatically cede her approval. She is attending the concert to watch Cohen perform, not to pay homage.

I also appreciate the details she provides about the setting and her admirably idiosyncratic responses to them. I’ve read reviews from the Jerusalem Post and Bloomberg.com, Cohen Defies Critics With Israeli Gig from The Independent, Yonat Frilling’s moving testimonial, and too many other descriptions and analyses of the Tel Aviv concert, but only Jerusalem Gypsy reports sacrificing the hot dog with sauerkraut to go she craved because she “decided [she would] rather starve than miss buses [to the concert].”

And certainly no other reviewer was willing to dedicate a paragraph to (justifiably, one perceives) defaming the bank that was willing to sponsor the concert and provide a gift bag to members of the audience but unwilling to refinance JG’s house loan.

The concert began one minute after I got to my seat. There was a Bank Discount green bag on my seat, and I thought for a moment that someone had taken my spot. But I saw those green bags everywhere. That’s the least that stupid bank can do. I tried for two years to get refinancing on a loan where they were charging me 12% interest. They wouldn’t hear of it. So I changed banks. But I’ll take the green insulated bag – thank you. Fuckers.

This is a woman to whom I can relate. She is eager to attend the concert but she first has to finish her work because

The worst thing would be for me to come back to work on Tuesday, after the Yom Kippur vacation, to a mountain of shit on my desk.

Other folks, no doubt, are awaiting the start of the concert pondering the socio-political implications of Cohen’s show on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or contemplating the subtle shift in the cosmic consciousness Cohen’s songs would trigger that night. Jerusalem Gypsy, however, is locked on exactly the same issue on which I would have focused:

My first thought, as the concert began, was – am I going to feel that the concert was worth the 800 shekels I spent? [emphasis mine]

All that makes Jerusalem Gypsy’s record of her concert experience splendidly personal and her reaction to the concert, especially to the blessings at the end of the performance more moving to me than the most exquisitely written reports from others.

Excerpts follow, but the entire post is worth reading at The High Priest:

And I wondered how this man could get everything so perfect – from the simple stage backdrop of flowing chiffon-like curtains, using only different colored lighting for the stage, which didn’t annoy the crap out of me because the lighting changes were slow and elegant, just like the entire performance. Leonard’s voice was perfect. The band was incredible. He was incredible. The audience was great. Noisy when it had to be, yet when he spoke, you could hear a pin drop. Everything was incredible. So, yes, it was worth the fortune I spent.

We must have been on the same wavelength somehow, either that, or I am psychic as all hell, because at the very end, right before he left the stage, he stood at the microphone with his hands up the way Jewish priests bless the people, and Leonard Cohen, the High Priest, blessed the audience in Hebrew with the ancient priestly blessing – “May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord let His face shine upon you and be gracious to you. May the Lord look kindly upon you and give you peace.”

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And this is the video of that tear-evoking priestly blessing.

Leonard Cohen – Whither Thou Goest & Blessings (Tel Aviv, 9/24/2009)

Video by MajorTom2oo1

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Priestly Blessings

Leonard Cohen Performs In Tel Aviv Stadium Lit By 55,000 Green Flares

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There is nothing to explain; it’s something wonderful and it’s self-apparent.

Leonard Cohen – Hallelujah (Tel Aviv, Sept 24, 2009)

Video by albertabi

Barcelona Sings Happy Birthday To Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen – Happy Birthday, Leonard (by audience) and Dance Me To The End Of Love (Barcelona, Sept 21, 2009)

Candle-lit Moment From Leonard Cohen Barcelona Concert

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Leonard Cohen plays Suzanne in candlelit Barcelona auditorium (click to enlarge)

I lit a thin green candle
To make you jealous of me,

- From “One Of Us Cannot Be Wrong” by Leonard Cohen

During Leonard Cohen’s performance of “Suzanne” at the Sept 21, 2009 birthday concert in Barcelona, audience members lit the auditorium with thin green candles. Photo by Ann Aschenbrenner

Leonard Cohen – Suzanne (Barcelona, Sept 21, 2009)

Video by itsthehappygirl

Leonard Cohen Collapses During Valencia Concert

On September 18, 2009 Leonard Cohen was 30 minutes into his concert program, performing “Bird On The Wire,” when he collapsed to the stage, ending the concert. The incident is being attributed to dehydration secondary to food poisoning. Cohen was apparently examined at a local hospital and was shortly released. The Tour is expected to continue as scheduled. For more details, see

Leonard Cohen Plays The Arena of Nimes

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This is another wonderful example of the ancient stages the Leonard Cohen World Tour has visited. I especially like the contrast between the Roman era stadium and the lighted screens of the cameras and cell phones being used to record the performance.

All photos of the August 20, 2009  Nimes concert are by Pirlouiiiit – Liveinmarseille.com

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Wikipedia provides the background:

The Arena of Nîmes is a Roman amphitheater found in the French city of Nîmes. Built around 70A.D., it was remodeled in 1863 to serve as a bullring. … The building encloses an elliptical central space 133 m long by 101 m wide. It is ringed by 34 rows of seats supported by a vaulted construction. It has a capacity of 16,300 spectators and since 1989 has a movable cover and a heating system.

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The Arena of Nîmes was constructed in the time of Emperor Augustus. As the Empire fell, the amphitheater was fortified by the Visigoths and surrounded by a wall. During the turbulent years that followed the collapse of Visigoth power in Hispania and Septimania, not to mention the Muslim invasion and subsequent reconquest by the French kings in the early eighteenth century, the viscounts of Nîmes constructed a fortified palace within the amphitheater. Later a small neighborhood developed within its confines, complete with one hundred denizens and two chapels. Seven hundred people lived within the amphitheater during the apex of its service as an enclosed community.

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Leonard Cohen Goes Crazy Twice In Belgrade

Leonard Cohen – Closing Time (Belgrade, Sept 9, 2009)

Excellent quality video. The sequence ends a tad abruptly at the completion of the song (battery failure). Animated performance. Enthusiastic audience. Video by mixxailo

Leonard Cohen – The Partisan (Belgrade, Sept 9, 2009)

An especially well-received offering of The Partisan. Video by mixxailo

Videos From Recent Leonard Cohen Concerts – Bratislava, Budapest, & Vienne

Leonard Cohen – Hallelujah (Bratislava, Aug 28, 2009)

Video by albertnoonan

Leonard Cohen – Famous Blue Raincoat (Budapest, Aug 31, 2009)

This is a well done video of a Cohen classic from a concert with few such recordings available (at least at this time). Video by galikbalazs

Leonard Cohen – Whither Thou Goest & Final Words (Vienne, Aug 18, 2009)

Some of the final words are French, all of the final words are gracious. Video by cuuliem

Leonard Cohen – I Tried To Leave You Live (Vienne, Aug 18, 2009)

The exuberance of the solo performances by band members is matched by the crowd’s responsiveness, all to the obvious pleasure of Leonard Cohen. And, Rafael performs the drumstick aerobatics flawlessly. Video by cuuliem.

Leonard Cohen Plays The Ancient Vienne Roman Theater

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I’ve been fascinated by the variety of venues, including outdoor festivals with hastily erected stages, gigantic stadia, intimate halls, baroque theaters, and the occasional hockey rink, that have hosted concerts during the Leonard Cohen World Tour. Of these, however, I am most taken with the ancient stages Cohen has played.

A prime exemplar of this category is the Vienne Roman Theater, resonant with romance and beauty and shown to spectacular advantage in these concert photos by maretschkou.

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Built in the first century AD, the original theater seated 13,000, making it one of the largest in the Roman Empire. A concise, interesting discussion of the structure and its archeological discovery is available at The Ancient Theater At Vienne.

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Leonard Cohen Equipped To Step Into The Ring And Examine Every Inch Of You

Leonard Cohen With Boxing Gloves and Stethoscope (Colmar)

Leonard Cohen With Boxing Gloves and Stethoscope (Colmar)

If you want a boxer
I will step into the ring for you
And if you want a doctor
I’ll examine every inch of you

From “I’m Your Man” by Leonard Cohen

The singer/songwriter/poet is shown here equipped with boxing gloves and stethoscope, pertinent accoutrements to the lyrics of “I’m Your Man” offered by audience members.9 Photo by Uli.

First Leonard Cohen Concerts In Istanbul

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Leonard Cohen played his first ever concerts in Istanbul on August 5 and 6, 2009. Other than the insertion of “Istanbul” into the lyrics of “Hallelujah” (i.e., “I did not come to the great city of Istanbul to fool ya”), there is little in these photos or the video to identify this performance as one that took place in that city.

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Yet, knowing that these artifacts did originate in that exotic locale somehow lends them a mysterious, intriguing aura, rendering them gorgeous and bewitching.

Photos by Muhsin  Akgün.

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2009 Leonard Cohen Venice Concert Venue - Piazza San Marco

Venice Concert A World Tour High Point Plus A New Cohen Song Revealed During Sound Check

The Leonard Cohen Venice Concert proved to be as special as its venue, Piazza San Marco, shown in this engaging photo taken by Eija Arjatsalo. Cohen was confident and in full control, he sang well, and – most significantly – he looked like he was having fun.

My assessment, garnered solely from three YouTube videos of songs performed during the show, is congruent with the comments posted by Tom Sakic, an especially knowledgeable Cohen fan who attended the Venice show after seeing other World Tour concerts as a basis for comparison, at LeonardCohenForum:

I don’t know what happened in Venice on Monday, but above the “usual perfection” (that sounds horrible) of the band and Leonard’s standard superb delivery, there was something in the air, at least when Leonard himself was in question.

Already at the public soundcheck at 6pm he appeared completely in victorious mood (he said “Give them a show!” when he saw how many people gathered for the soundcheck, and teased us with new song about The Darkness), while on the show he was in complete command, always few steps before the band and the singers, even little self-ironic in its easiness.

Commanding his own voice to incredible deepness as never before (the voice is deeper after the flu he got at the Weybridge) – and doing that with the voice consciously; his body on the invisible strings commanded by somebody above doing its own show; kneeling not only on the first verses of each song but now spending the whole songs on the floor; looking for The Angel’s instructions (the golden statue of an angel on the top of the St. Marco tower) in Ain’t No Cure for Love, Tower of Song and So Long Marianne; and with small turns in delivery of some lines and words (every line was lived through), the Venice show launched itself among the best show Cohen ever gave, reaching its even higher highs on the encores, with the whole St. Mark’s Square standing with hands in the air and singing out loud So Long Marianne and the chorus verses of Manhattan and Closing Time.

Cohen waved on few occasions to crowds of young people hold up by security in left and right corner of the stage (the barrier broke down on the encores so those fans where leading in the singing along), going to both corners of the stage to greet them (probably seeing what’s happening). I enjoyed their solemn and touched smiles and faces while waving to Leonard all the time.

Thus for now; I don’t know what happened there – the band was really happening, Sharon stormed the stage and touched the golden string in a capella/gospel part of Boogie Street (leaving the audience, at least where I was sitting, in utter amazement), Javier Mas almost killed us not only with prolonged intro to Who By Fire but bleeding his heart out on all his strings as loud he could manage (and it was loud!), half-standing above his chair.

Maybe it was Venice, maybe it was Piazza St. Marco – but Leonard himself appeared very keen & ready, and although I cried through the show in Lucca, which was also energetic and loud as this one (but it was my first), and I saw Royal Albert Hall (which appears completely academic when compared to the Italian shows) in its immaculate perfection, the show in Venice showed what means when Leonard Cohen is literally taking a city. And – unlike the mix of the Live in London CD/DVD – it sounded as it should be – very loud but still clear, every musician being in his/her own tour de force, and every word from Leonard’s lips transparent.

Tom goes on, referring to “So Long Marianne”

This video tells it all – just how I remember it was! Loud and everybody singing and Leonard totally ready to take Venice!

And, he’s right.

“So Long, Marianne” continues to be the Leonard Cohen Summer 2009 European Tour go-to song for audience response with the Venetian crowd booming forth on the chorus and Cohen complimenting the effort with an “Ah, you sing so sweet” (2:45).

Also noteworthy is Cohen’s entry, which is also his return from the magnificent skipping stage dismount documented in the next section, Leonard Cohen Swings, Skips, Romps Through “Closing Time” In Venice. On the return circuit seen in the next video, Cohen enters running but midway to the microphone shifts into high amplitude skipping.

Leonard Cohen – So Long, Marianne (Venice 2009)

Leonard Cohen Swings, Skips, Romps Through “Closing Time” In Venice

Leonard Cohen In Pre-Skipping Windup

Leonard Cohen In Pre-Skipping Windup

Leonard Cohen’s performance of “Closing Time” in Venice is outstanding.

Ongoing readers may recall my recent description of Leonard Cohen In Belfast … Possible Best Skipping Of Tour:

First, note how, at 5:50, Cohen pauses to make the transition from prayerfully saluting the audience to preparing himself for the floor exercise.

He strikes the classic starting position with his left arm held across his midsection for balance and then simultaneously lifts his right arm above his head and his right knee to waist height for power. After holding that posture for an instant, he kicks down, attaining excellent velocity and elevation on his initial thrust, all the while maintaining near-perfect form.

Well, Cohen’s skipping in Belfast was, as noted, excellent, but his skipping in Venice appears to have earned both style and power points that exceed the Belfast effort.

His wind-up, shown in the screenshot atop this post, is awesome, and the entire skipping sequence (at the end of this video) is impressive.

And, at the very end of the video, watch Roscoe Beck’s demonstration of fancy hat twirling.10

Leonard Cohen – Closing Time – Venice 2009

New Cohen Song Emerges From Venice Sound Check

A by-product of the singer-songwriter’s expansive mood in Venice appears to have been his semi-public audition of a new song, “The Darkness,” during the Venice sound check, which was watched by a number of fans.

Tom Sakic notes the following comments re the song’s title:

Leonard to Jarkko: “untitled work in progress.”
Bob Metzger: “We call it the blues.”

Leonard Cohen – The Darkness (Venice Sound Check)

Update: The latest set of lyrics are from merton at LeonardCohenForum:

….. it was drinking from your cup,
I got the darkness
from your little ruby cup
I said ‘is this contagious?’
You said ‘just drink it up’

I’ve got no future baby
I know my days are few
I’ve got no future though
As I say I know my days are few
Is the present not that pleasant (?)
Just a lot of things to do

I don’t like your sticky little bud
I don’t like alcohol
I don’t need your loving touch
That’s always been your call
Cause there’s nothing but the darkness
Makes any sense to me at all

I should have seen the darkness
It was right behind your eyes
All those pools so deep and heartless
I just had to take a dive
Ah yea but winning you was easy
Ah but the darkness was the price

Got no future (x3)

Yea I know the days are few
The present is not that pleasant(?)
Just a lot of things to do

(AND THEN QUASIMODO THE BELLS THE BELLS !!!!)

The Poetic Performance In León

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These wonderful photos from the July 31, 2009 Leonard Cohen concert in León were taken by Indiana Caba.

Review Of Leonard Cohen In León Concert

The following is a Google translation of Leonard Cohen tiñe León con la amargura de sus plegarias poéticas by Cristina Fanjul, published in Diario de León on August 8, 2009.11

Leonard Cohen stained with the bitterness of his poetic prayers
The Canadian singer dazzled in his first recitals in Spain

As a contemporary Lord Byron, with all the beauty and the loser with a burning violin, Leonard Cohen yesterday led thousands of León to the beauty of some songs which could directly recover, thanks to sin, after years of silence. With his hat as master of ceremonies, the Canadian poet showed throughout the concert, thanks to the great and deployment issues such as the magic of Dance me to the end of love (the waltz with the opening scene), The Future, Ain’ t no cure for love or Everybody knows. Leonard Cohen yesterday became one of the most important cultural events of the city who has lived and Leon Arena was capital for almost three hours of epic music that shapes a poet to transcend the mud, singing and continues to look for individuality what he considered unattainable.

Generous and genial, he shared with the audience their hymns and tells how a legendary era of unbridled dreams led him to venture into the world of religion and philosophy, and the drug Prozac. And all that said, “to conclude that no possible cure for love”, one of his best songs. Futile freedom of a bird in the wire of a preceding their most famous, Everybody knows. As a messiah who has lost hope, as a redeemed Poe, claimed in her personal Gethsemane, and before the verses of chant Anthem reminded that everything has a crack, and this is the only way for the light entering the darkness. Suzanne followed, including his ode to lost love, crazy love of youth, which allows blind and go through life with eyes closed. After Boggio street, a statement of principles of a sinner, then Cohen one of his most beautiful prayers, Hallelujah, that in raising his voice and says that, as he himself says, “one begins to be wise when he realizes that is very unhappy.” Democracy came after the prayer, a hymn to United States, and immediately afterwards, I’m your man, a sample of the great pessimist knows laughing, exercising an irony of love and surrender and submissive absurd. Was almost Ecuador when Leonard Cohen’s concert showed why poetry | a verse recitation was suspended in the air, as deep as a thousand kisses.

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And suddenly, his tribute to Lorca, who was revealed to be profound and popular at the time, who guided him along the road that leads to poetry. Take this waltz was one of the most memorable moments of the show and prior to the end a new beginning, to Marianne, First We Take Manhattan, a Closing time. Yesterday, Leonard Cohen has allowed us to cross to the other side, those dreams were never fulfilled, that of the vanquished that, despite everything, still waiting, the lust for drugs and who share dreams with the hope of salvation of finding a truth that never-| Like a fisherman king, as the Jew who sang Lorca, halfway between the East River and the Bronx, as Ruth-| I beg you to stop. Where you go, I will go …

Sharon Robinson On Boogie Street In Lisbon

While a significant number of Cohen fans are not fond of “Boogie Street,” a Sharon Robinson – Leonard Cohen collaboration, this albertnoonan video of Sharon Robinson performing a luscious arrangement of that song at the Lisbon concert is special. If you don’t enjoy this, you can rest assured that you just don’t like the song and can time your trip to the concession stand or the rest room to coincide with it during the next concert you attend.

But I warn you, you may find yourself getting off on “Boogie Street.”

Lisbon 2009, Boogie Street, Sharon Robinson / Leonard Cohen

The Lisbon Concert Experience

It would be difficult to find a more concise and significant assessment of the Lisbon concert than this single sentence I’ve excerpted from a very personal, subjective, thorough, and delightful discussion of the show by burningviolin at LeonardCohenForum:

I didn’t think any concert could top Dublin but Lisbon was it!

Leonard Cohen – Anthem & Band Intros (Lisbon, July 30, 2009)

Leonard Cohen – Who By Fire (Lisbon, July 30, 2009)

Cohen Tells Dublin “Ah, You Sing So Pretty”

One of the first indisputable signs available to those of us not in attendance that the Dublin shows would be extraordinary was the video from the Dublin concert featuring one of Cohen’s best performances of “So Long Marianne,” which was even further enhanced by the Dublin audience singing along (see below). The following video is the same song from a different Dublin concert; the reason for posting it is Cohen’s sweetly delivered compliment to the audience at about the 34 second mark.

So Long, Marianne – Leonard Cohen (Dublin, July 22, 2009)

Images From Leonard Cohen’s Final 2009 Irish Concert

As part of this small tribute, I’m also happy to be able to post these photos from the Belfast concert, likely to be Cohen’s last performance in Ireland.

The photographer is Joan From Cork – A Devoted Leonard Cohen Fan.

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Leonard Cohen - Belfast 2009

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Dino Soldo - Belfast 2009

Showing Off In Belfast – Great Music, World Class Skipping

Leonard Cohen - Belfast 2009

Leonard Cohen - Belfast 2009

Cohen’s departure from the stage in Belfast is a clear contender for the Best World Tour Skipping title and is a fine example for the young, aspiring skippers watching at home. First, note how, at 5:50, Cohen pauses to make the transition from prayerfully saluting the audience to preparing himself for the floor exercise.

He strikes the classic starting position with his left arm held across his midsection for balance and then simultaneously lifts his right arm above his head and his right knee to waist height for power. After holding that posture for an instant, he kicks down, attaining excellent velocity and elevation on his initial thrust, all the while maintaining near-perfect form.

Cohen is especially impressive in the turn near raised platform where the keyboards are located, adding a half-twist not seen before in this competition. Finally, he continues to accelerate past his exit through the curtain, correcting his tendency in past concerts to slow his pace a step or two before reaching the curtained area.

The routine is exemplary, displaying challenging, even daring moves, exquisite style, and an unexpected degree of athleticism, given the competitor’s recent summer cold.

This is a spectacular performance sure to be mentioned in future years wherever fans gather to talk about skipping and one that will be most difficult to surpass in the remaining European shows or the final 15 concerts in the U.S.

Leonard Cohen – Closing Time (Belfast, 2009)

Leonard Cohen – I Tried To Leave You (Belfast, 2009)

This song features Cohen’s band members and back-up singers eager to demonstrate their skills, an enthusiastically appreciative audience, and, of course, albertnoonan to capture it on video.

Priestly Blessing Offered For Belfast Benediction

Leonard Cohen’s blessings at the July 26, 2009 Belfast concert varied from the benedictions he has used at most of his performances, including his shows in Dublin a few days earlier.

The Belfast blessings were taken from The Priestly Blessing found in Numbers 6:24-26, the prayer to be used by Aaron and his sons for the blessing of the children of Israel. Many synagogues end their services with this prayer. In Protestant churches, it has come to be known as The Benediction and often closes church services as a blessing upon the congregation. It is similarly used at weddings as a blessing upon the bride and groom.

The King James version follows:

The LORD bless thee, and keep thee:
The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee:
The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.

Leonard Cohen – Blessings (Belfast, 2009)

More Spectacular Video From Spectacular Dublin Shows

The only essential introductory information about these videos are the following three lines:

Performers: Leonard Cohen, World Tour Band & Back-up Singers

Venue: Dublin

Videographer: albertnoonan

Videos From Leonard Cohen Dublin Concerts

Leonard Cohen – Hallelujah (Dublin O2, 7/23/2009)

Leonard Cohen – First We Take Manhattan (Dublin O2, 7/23/2009)

This is a superb performance, and it offers a bonus. As the video begins, Charley Webb (the back-up singer on the viewer’s far left) is shrugging into her jacket and then, that task accomplished, gets into the rhythm of the choreography with her sister, Hattie, and Sharon Robinson. As a result of Charley’s shimmy she employs to don her coat, her subsequent hair adjustments, and her synchronized gyrations in anticipation of the initial chords of “First We Take Manhattan,” I am now officially hot for Charley Webb. (This may be the first occasion when I’ve been turned on by watching a woman put on rather than removing clothing.) Oh, and that Cohen fellow also sings after Charley finishes her reverse ecdysis.

Leonard Cohen – Lullaby (Dublin O2, 7/22/2009)

Leonard Cohen – The Future (Dublin O2, 7/23/2009)

Verse Added To “A Thousand Kisses Deep” In Dublin

Leonard Cohen’s recitation of “A Thousand Kisses Deep” at the July 21, 2009 Dublin concert includes an additional verse not used in previous shows.

Most importantly, however, this rendition of “A Thousand Kisses Deep” is resonant and moving.

Leonard Cohen – A 1000 Kisses Deep (Dublin O2, July 20, 2009)

Best “So Long Marianne” From World Tour?

The quality of the camera work and audio by albertnoonan in producing this video earns accolades and appreciation from those of us not privileged to be in Dublin last night to hear the Leonard Cohen performance of “So Long Marianne” accounted by some who have attended multiple concerts during the World Tour as the best rendition of the song thus far.

As a bonus, the chorus is performed as an Irish sing-along to excellent effect.

Leonard Cohen – So Long Marianne (Dublin O2 – 7/20/2009)

Singing “So Long Marianne” To Marianne At Langesund

This is not a video with great production values. As the cameraperson notes, “Sorry for the all the drunk people singing.”

But how could anyone who knows anything about Leonard Cohen pass up the chance to watch him sing “So Long Marianne” to a concert audience that includes Marianne Ihlen herself?12

Leonard Cohen – So Long Marianne (Langesund – July 16, 2009

From Wet Weybridge To To Lovely Langesund In 5 Days

Five days after the spectacular show, apparently held in a gale at Weybridge (see below), Leonard Cohen overcame the perfect weather and blissful setting of Langesund to give, by all accounts, a fine concert.

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Leonard Cohen Langesund Concert - 16 July 2009

Leonard Cohen’s Wet, Wonderful Weybridge Show

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Leonard Cohen's Back - Note rain falling on Cohen who is on the protected stage

Where’s That Famous Blue Raincoat When You Need It?

The photographer, dorsetbays, who took the shots on this page13 and generously permitted them to be posted at Heck Of A Guy, summarizes the setting:

Leonard Cohen put on an amazing concert at the Mercedes Benz Arena, Surrey on 11 July 2009. The weather was atrocious, heavy rain and gale force winds, but the atmosphere was electric.

A Soggy But Stalwart Suzanne Vega Opens

Susan Vega

Susan Vega

The reports of the relative few who actually arrived at the concert in time to hear the opening act, long time Leonard Cohen collaborator, Suzanne Vega, indicate she was a class act and in good voice for her ten song set, including Luka, Tom’s Diner, and Pornographer’s Dream, on her birthday.

The Leonard Cohen Weybridge Concert

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Second Act Costume Change: Cohen adds scarf to ensemble

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Rain doesn't dampen Cohen Dance Fever

Cohen, Crew, & Crowd Triumph

Be assured that the next video is from the correct concert in the inclement weather – the performance of Cohen and his musicians and the response of the crowd just overwhelm the impact of the wind and rain.

Leonard Cohen – Closing Time (Weybridge 2009)

Once Again, No One, No Where Gives Better Blessings Than Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen – Whither Thou Goest and Blessings (Weybridge – July 11, 2009)

Exceptional Video From Closing Of Toulouse Concert

Leonard Cohen – Whither Thou Goest and Blessings (Toulouse – July 9, 2009)

Video From Antwerp Concert

Leonard Cohen – Suzanne (Antwerp- July 4, 2009)

Berlin Enthusiastic About Being Taken

While the reaction of an audience to the occurrence of their city’s name in the lyrics of the performer’s song (even when that usage is predicated on the necessities of rhyme and meter, let alone when the choice, as is the case in this instance, is fundamental to the significance of the song) is so predictable as to be deemed inevitable, the excitement demonstrated by the Berliners singing along to Leonard Cohen’s “First We Take Manhattan” is exhilarating and infectious. The crescendo on “… then we take Berlin” is emotionally overwhelming.

The camera is a tad shaky, especially at first, but one can hardly fault the contributer, BenLev10, who may have produced a few faulty frames in trying to capture too much of the performance, audience reaction, and venue (Berlin’s O2 Arena) itself but also produced some shots that are inspired, including some views of the audience that are atypical of most of Cohen’s concert videos.  It is, with apologies to Browning, one of those “a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for?” things.

Leonard Cohen – First We Take Manhattan (Berlin – July 2, 2009)

“With your permission, I would like to dedicate this concert to the memory of Yasmine …”

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Leonard Cohen dedicated the July 4, 2009 Antwerp Concert to Yasmine (real name: Hilde Rens), a well known Belgian singer-songwriter and TV presenter, who translated and covered many Leonard Cohen songs as well as performing at the Leonard Cohen Hydra 2002 Event.

Yasmine took her own life on June 26, 2009, apparently in the wake of a recently ended marriage with Marianne, another Belgian public figure.14

Yasmine – Dans me

The photo atop this note is from the only page of Yasmine’s web site now accessible.

Dear Leonard Cohen – Thanks For The Tour

Following the New York Leonard Cohen Beacon Theatre Concert (February 2009) but prior to realizing that the Cohen concert junket had become the Tour That Never Ends,15 I began putting together a commemorative video of the event. The idea was that I would finish the project once the World Tour was over.

As of today, the Cohen Infinite Tour Loop includes confirmed concert dates through 21 September 2009 with possible venues being considered after that time.

So, in hopes of posting this video sometime before the Christmas rush, I am proud to present, on the occasion of the end of the US-Canadian leg and the beginning of the 2009 European leg of the World Tour,

The Heck Of A Guy
Dear Leonard Cohen –
Thanks For The Tour.
I Hope It Was Good For You, Too.

Commemorative Video Celebration
Of The First 14 Months Of The 2008-2009 World Tour

The music is the 1980 version of Leonard Cohen’s “Do I Have To Dance All Night,” an arrangement that has never been released.

Leonard Cohen Playing Suzanne In Berlin

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This altogether impressive photo was taken during Leonard Cohen’s July 2, 2009 concert by jarkko and was first posted at LeonardCohenForum.

Leonard Cohen – Your Man In New York And Sydney

During this hiatus between the 2009 North American and Summer European legs of the Tour, I happened onto two outstanding performances of “I’m Your Man.”

Leonard Cohen – I’m Your Man & A Thousand Kisses Deep – Sydney Jan 2009

Leonard Cohen – I’m Your Man -Radio City Music Hall May 2009

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Credit Due Department:
I was alerted to the video of the Sydney performance by Tom Sakic of A Thousand Kisses Deep when he favorited it on YouTube and to the video of the Radio City Music Hall performance by an entry on LeonardCohenForum from sturgess66.

Red Rocks Concert In Six Minutes

Fascinating time lapse video of the Red Rocks WebCam, before and during the Leonard Cohen concert on June 4th, 2009.

Chicago Marquee

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Photo by Dan Klute

Boffo In Boston – Wonderful At The Wang 16

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I’m still mad for this kind of a striking shot of the marquee at the venue for the Cohen concert. Photo taken by Avi Elkoni, who has graciously allowed its publication at LeonardCohenSearch.

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I’ve found only one or two other photos (see photos for Radio City Music Hall show) taken from this perspective (otherwise known as the balcony) of Cohen kneeling, but I’m grateful for every example of this classic image. This and the next two photos were taken by xrayspx, who has generously licensed these pictures for uses such as this.

The last two photos demonstrate the physicality of Dino Soldo’s style of playing the woodwinds.

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While a number of reports of the Boston show competently describe the performance and some nicely evoke the experience of watching the concert, I am especially taken with the review at Neo-neocon: Leonard Cohen comes to Boston, which offers a perspective not only of Cohen’s work place within the context of the lives of those in the cohort Neo-neocon and I share but also of the significance of his music on our consciousness. Excerpts follow:

As I’ve written before, Leonard Cohen is not for everyone (although he’s certainly for me). Some find him boring, some find him droning, some find him hard to tell apart from Dustin Hoffman until he opens his mouth (although as they’ve both aged, they look a lot less alike than they used to). But I find him to be one of the most compelling and hypnotic singer-songwriters, poet-musicians—whatever sort of hyphenated descriptive term you prefer—in the world.

Cohen spent a lot of time last night with his hat on and his eyes closed and his legs bent or even in a full kneel (try doing that when you’re seventy-four), facing his backup singers or his musicians and singing to them. It sounds as though this would distance him from the audience, but it didn’t; it’s his way of reaching deep within himself to give the greatest emotional power to each song. The words are neither more nor less important than the music, and although he’s probably sung each composition hundreds or even thousands of times, he never seems to be just going through the motions.

For example, when Cohen sang “Suzanne,” one of his earliest songs, he brought thick layers of memory to those of us who had first heard it back in high school or college in the 60s, from a Leonard Cohen who seemed mature at the time but was only in his mid-thirties. How did he make it seem so fresh now, singing it as an old man? His voice is far deeper (deeper even than I’d heard it sound recently in You Tube videos from the current tour—how deep can a man’s voice get and still be heard by the human ear?) But that’s not the only thing that’s deeper; you can hear all the ache of the intervening years—the hard-won wisdom and the hard-fought pain—in his phrasing and tone, and as you listen you nod and think of all that you’ve been through in those same passing decades.

… it is a tribute to the extraordinary musicality of Cohen and everyone else on the stage that none of the new variations is ever a disappointment no matter how deeply entrenched in one’s head a beloved original might be. Each new phrasing, each new riff, is a revelation.

I have just used the word “revelation,” and it points to another characteristic of Cohen’s work: there is a religious undercurrent to it, even when he’s singing about sex (or maybe especially when he’s singing about sex). How he manages to combine the worldly and even the world-weary with the ecstatic and the numinous is a mystery, but his music is permeated with this sense.

The full review cam be read at Neo-neocon: Leonard Cohen comes to Boston.

Outstanding Video Summary Of Cohen’s Hamilton Concert

The following four-part video offers excellent visual and audio coverage of representative portions of every song performed at the May 19, 2009 Hamilton concert. The quality of the camera work and editing of enervatingpeople, who uploaded these videos, is exceeded only by the generosity displayed in sharing this effort with viewers.

Leonard Cohen Live Hamilton May 19, 2009 Part 1

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Leonard Cohen Live Hamilton May 19, 2009 Part 2

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Leonard Cohen Live Hamilton May 19, 2009 Part 3

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Leonard Cohen Live Hamilton May 19, 2009 Part 4

Radio City Music Hall Signet Ring Souvenir & Cohen Photo

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Photos by Jean @ Renovation Therapy

From Surplus To Scarcity – An Editorial Message

As some viewers have noted, there have been few additions to the Best Of Leonard Cohen World Tour 2008-2009 page since Coachella.

The Tour, of course, continues and the recent concerts, such as those in Philadelphia, Waterbury, Edmonton, Calgary, and other cities (including Chicago, the nearest site to my own home) have been, by all reports, as exquisitely performed and as deeply felt by those in the audience as the shows earlier in the schedule.

The rate at which new material has been added here lately is relatively low because of that schedule. At this point, Cohen has completed more than 100 concerts with little variation in play lists and monologues. Consequently, good quality videos of most of his music and chatter have become available. A viewer who can already watch three or four well done concert videos of “Tower Of Song” on this page gains little by being given the opportunity to see a 5th, 6th, and 7th version. Concert reviews are almost universally positive but are also almost universally redundant, dampening enthusiasm for posting or reading excerpts.

I am still interested in the novel, unique, and just plain odd Tour elements, which is why portions of this page are devoted to Leonard Cohen dancing and skipping, the Webb Sisters Cartwheeling, Cohen’s cowboy hat, the unreleased song, “Lullaby,” that has been added to his concert set, etc. Occasionally, the venue is special enough to warrant attention, which was the case at Coachella (the only American festival with an overwhelmingly young audience on the Tour schedule) and the first cities played in the US after a 15 year absence.

There will be new photos, videos, reviews, and such appearing here. The upcoming Tour schedule, for example, includes a concert on Cohen’s 75th birthday and a performance in Israel that some groups are pressuring Cohen to refuse for political reasons, both of which will be represented on the Best Of Leonard Cohen World Tour 2008-2009. Some photographer somewhere will take a spectacular shot or some reviewer will find a new angle for his story that will turn up on this page.

I continue to monitor uploaded videos, newspaper and personal reports on the concerts, and photos of the shows. When the next great instance from a Leonard Cohen concert shows up in graphic, audio, or textual form, I’ll do my best to display it here.

Waiting For The Miracle In Seattle

Leonard Cohen – Waiting for the Miracle and “… 60 Years Old, Just A Kid With A Crazy Dream” Monologue (Seattle, 2009)

Bang The Gong Slowly

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This photo, taken during rehearsals prior to the start of the Tour, raised the inevitable question,

And what the heck is with that gong in the background?

That query can now be answered. Watch and learn.

Leonard Cohen – The Gypsy’s Wife (Oakland, 2009)

Vancouver Concert Review

Leonard Cohen Full Of Classy Contradictions In Vancouver by John Lucas (Straight.com April 20, 2009) is not only an accurate account of Cohen’s Vancouver performance, but is chock-full of Cohen paradoxes. These excerpts are representative:

The 74-year-old icon is a walking contradiction (and occasionally a skipping-around-the-stage contradiction), part beatific Zen monk and part Old Testament prophet of doom. The Montreal-born poet’s best work is seemingly best absorbed in dark-side-of-midnight moments of solitary contemplation, but it somehow comes across just fine in a hockey rink filled with enraptured fans.

[Cohen's line about "being born with the gift of a golden voice is] funny, yes, because Cohen’s weathered croon is no one’s idea of a heavenly instrument, but it’s also true. Nobody can sing a Leonard Cohen like Leonard Cohen, which he proved with “Hallelujah”. Thanks to a seemingly endless stream of covers, that mid-’80s tune has become Cohen’s best-known song, even among those who have never heard him sing it. They should, because, at least on this occasion, the author’s version bests them all, sounding simultaneously carnal and divine, like two angels fucking. (And if you think I’m being needlessly vulgar, you clearly haven’t seen the picture on the sleeve of New Skin for the Old Ceremony.) ))

The entire article is a worthwhile read, whether one has a special interest in the Vancouver concert or only a general fascination with Cohen. It is available at Leonard Cohen Full Of Classy Contradictions In Vancouver.

Leonard Cohen Goes Messianic In Coachella Desert

The folks at Gawker have published Coachella: An Illustrated Nightmare, which comprises a series of, as one would suspect, nightmarish photos of the goings-on at Coachella 2009 replete with snark-laden captions.

Well, that nightmarish-snarky thing is true except in the case of the last photo in the sequence:

And then an awesome, natty old man showed up to play that song from the Watchmen sex scene. ["Leonard Cohen by vonlohmann, on Flickr"]

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Searching for photos of Leonard Cohen that also identified the Coachella setting (most photos of Cohen in the desert could have been taken in London, New York, or Fredericton) I came across two excellent shots at Sharee Rivera‘s Live Journal entry, Coachella Was Da Bomb, documenting her visit to the first day of Coachella 2009.

Here is Leonard Cohen! He is super old. I love him. He was so incredible.

Leonard Cohen - Cochella 2009

Leonard Cohen - Coachella 2009

Leonard Cohen - Coachella 2009

Leonard Cohen - Coachella 2009

Reading from the Epistle of Spinner Re The Coachellans,

Seeing Leonard Cohen in the desert one wonders if they’re just seeing a messianic mirage. In fact, his set on Friday night at Coachella was not unlike going to church — a notion driven home by the fact that the notoriously chatty crowd remained absolutely silent during Cohen’s one-hour set except for ‘Hallelujah,’ during which everyone threw their arms in the air and sang in unison. A cathartic moment during a set full of them as Cohen sang one essential hit after another, including ‘Bird on a Wire,’ ‘I’m Your Man’ and ‘Everybody Knows.’

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And, from the Gospel according to The L.A. Times, we find the account of Leonard Cohen’s Spiritual Oasis at Coachella:

He delivered the selections pretty much identically to the L.A. Show, except for the unexpected locale reference humorously dropped into “Hallelujah”; “I didn’t come to Coachella to fool ya,” a moment that’s about the closest he gets to spontaneity. However meticulously rehearsed it might have been, “Hallelujah” became an exceptionally powerful communal experience, most of the onlookers joining in on the chorus like a shared prayer. A religious experience in the desert–who’d have thought?

From Blessed MotherJones.com Coachella Wrapup as revealed to Party Ben:

As the sun goes behind the mountains, a huge crowd has assembled at the side stage to see 74-year-old singer Leonard Cohen. I know he’s a legend and has unquestionable hipster cachet, but this is crazy:—scrappy-looking kids with punk haircuts are shoving past me to get better spots. Cohen emerges onto the stage with his nicely-dressed band, himself in a black suit, white shirt, cheeky bolo tie, and a little fedora, which he doffs for the crowd. The band starts up, quietly, but the other stages have gone silent out of respect, and the sound is clear as a bell. Cohen drops on one knee to sing the opening bars of “Dance Me to the End of Love.” His voice starts off a little wobbly, and at one point he seems to fumble a line, but in the chorus he dives for the low notes with gusto, his rich basso making the girls scream. As he continues, his confidence only seems to grow, and he picks rhythms in the repeating choruses that intertwine with the backup singers, surprising counterpoints to the straightforward melody already established. He’s on his knees again, and back up again, and I realize I can’t do that now, and I’m half this guy’s age. “I need to see you naked,” he sings, and the crowd screams louder.

In closing, the blessings of the Leonard Cohen World Tour Benediction be upon you:

I don’t know when we’ll meet again. Until then, take care of yourselves. May you fall on the side of luck, may you be surrounded by friends and family, and if none of these is yours, may the blessings find you in your solitude. Thank you so much friends, goodnight, take care.

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Franz Nicolay

Cohen’s Coachella Performance From Another Perspective

I don’t follow PunkNews.org as well as perhaps I should. Aubin posted an explanatory introduction to the entry on April 30, 200:

Dispatches: Franz Nicolay: Episode 1
Today, we’ve got a brand new set of tour diaries coming from Franz Nicolay, multi-instrumentalist and member of The Hold Steady and World/Inferno Friendship Society.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I attest to having long been a fan of Franz Nicolay, both in his solo gypsy-punk rock mode and as part of one of my favorite bands, The Hold Steady. While I may, consequently, carry a bias, there are batches of laudatory reviews of Nicolay and The Hold Steady attesting to their popularity and the quality of their music.

In the pertinent section of the post, Nicolay is describing his experiences at Coachella, where The Hold Steady have played earlier on the same day that Leonard Cohen, Morrissey, and Paul McCartney will perform.

Nicolay On Morrissey And McCartney At Coachella

In the tour diary itself Nicolay proves himself no sycophant, opening his report of Morrissey’s performance, for example, with this unambiguous line:

So it pains me to report … that Morrissey, who played next on the main stage, was, and I wish I could come up with a more eloquent way to put this, a pissy little bitch.

And about the headliner, Paul McCartney, Nicolay’s full report is contained in two brief paragraphs:

On my way to the stage for Cohen’s set, I was stopped by a security guard, as a motorcade of black Escalades pulled up to a gate. While we waited on the sidewalk, out stepped Paul McCartney, in a baggy grey suit. And red sneakers.

Which I suppose is the kind of thing the richest entertainer in the world can get away with, though two and a half hours of McCartney was an adult dose. For a guy worth half a billion dollars it was an admirably simple stage show (especially the ukulele take on “Something”). Except for the flash-pots and fireworks deployed for “Live And Let Die”: a subtle display of the kind of fuck-you money that brings a full pyro setup for one song.

Franz Nicolay On Leonard Cohen At Coachella -
An Object Lesson In Performance Manners

On that topic – the ridiculous to the sublime, the snowy to the sun-baked, or something to that effect – we played the giant Coachella festival in a desert polo grounds in southern California three days later, and I saw an object lesson in performance manners. Perhaps you’ve heard that Leonard Cohen recently suffered a severe financial setback. He spent six years studying in a Zen monastery, during which time he left his affairs in the hands of a personal manager – who took him for five million dollars, essentially his life savings. So, at 74, he’s back on the road, and a more gracious performance I’ve never seen. All ten or twenty thousand people waiting for him on a second stage, waited in a hushed silence, like a church service. And indeed, one of the notable details was that this was the quietest PA sound I’ve ever seen at a festival show, so the religious atmosphere held, up to a really chilling mass singalong to “Hallelujah”. One detail that really pleased me was that, every time a member of the band took a solo, he removed his fedora and held it over his heart for the duration, as a gesture of respect.

Leonard Cohen’s Coachella Performances – “Hallelujah” and “The Future” Now Online

Leonard Cohen – Hallelujah (Coachella 2009)

Leonard Cohen – The Future (Coachella 2009)

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The Final Score – Rating Cohen At Coachella

From Leonard Cohen’s February 20, 2009 interview with the LA Times,17,

“We’d played festivals in the past, and I’m not crazy about the setup. You’re on a roster with a whole lot of other people. You don’t have the evening. I like to be in a room with people for three hours, have a beginning, middle and an end. We can’t do our whole set, it’s not our rhythm. But we have heard it’s a special hospitality there. We’ll play our best and look forward to it.”

Below are gathered a few reviews to determine how Leonard Cohen fared at Coachella. At the risk of dissipating the suspense, I am compelled to say, “Leonard, not to worry.”

SPIN – Best & Worst from Coachella (Friday)

Best Set: Leonard Cohen
How fitting that Leonard Cohen’s performance of “Hallelujah,” his most famous song, would still come as a glorious shock. After all, that’s what the melody does: It seeps into your heart and lies dormant — then erupts as pure emotion. The set was tenderly elegant (brocade rugs and red velvet chairs!), but nothing could distract from Cohen, 75 and beaming, tipping his fedora to a misty-eyed crowd of all ages and roaming the stage like Sinatra, depthless baritone still in terrific form. Artists one-third his age couldn’t have culled the ferocity of “First We Take Manhattan” or the heartrending, unadorned lament of “Everybody Knows.” And still, when the keys kicked up the first strains of “Hallelujah,” those ascending notes led a seismic reaction — offstage, as an ecstatic audience sang every word back in hymnal, and onstage, where Cohen removed his hat and peered out into audience with reverent, brimming tears. — Stacey Anderson

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Coachella 2009 Review – Final Recap (Top 10/ Worst 5)

Top Ten Performances of Coachella 2009:

1. Leonard Cohen
2. My Bloody Valentine
3. Yeah Yeah Yeahs
4. TV on the Radio
5. Paul McCartney
6. The Hold Steady
7. Bob Mould Band
8. The Cure
9. Henry Rollins
10. Fucked Up (w/ No Age)

There’s no question of Leonard Cohen’s Friday evening set being the finest of the weekend—his otherworldly baritone sheathed in a ravaged rasp led the massive Outdoor Theatre crowd into the weekend’s most cathartic, devastatingly human moments of artistry and poetics, from the perfect opening lines of “Bird on a Wire” to his closing audience singalong of the immortal “Hallelujah,” performed just as a blood-red sun sank deep into a jagged, palm tree’d horizon and left the sky black. It was nothing short of magic.

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WERS Music – My Weekend at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival

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At the ripe age of 74, Leonard Cohen is still able to prove to the masses that he has no intentions of taking off his hat just yet. With the support of a classily dressed band, Cohen led the crowd through a smoky and nostalgic set. The surreal nature of hearing the Poet of Rock and Roll himself sing “Hallelujah” in a venue that few had expected he ever would perform was truly powerful. His wit and charm have only increased as the years have gone by, keeping his work relevant and groundbreaking to this very day.

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Soundcheck’s Coachella ‘09

My personal high, however, I suspect is an encounter held in equally high regard by thousands more. The incredible version of “Hallelujah,” with which Leonard Cohen stunned the already rapt crowd before him, is a Coachella moment like no other. Along with McCartney’s performance in total, it will undoubtedly turn up in best-ever talk for years to come.

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Headcount – Coachella, Cohen & Chris Isaak Make Life Worth Living

It is not often (or ever, really) during a concert review that I get teary and comment out loud, “Oh my god!” but the coverage of Best Set: Leonard Cohen tore at my insides. Coachella, that evergrowing-in-popularity music and arts festival in Indio, Ca, was this weekend. Spin has a nice recap of the bests and worsts from all three days, including Best Personality (Morrissey), Best Encore (Paul McCartney) and Worst Stage Banter (We Are Scientists), among many others. I’m not sure if my emotional reaction to Best Set was to the report of a crowd singing back to Cohen in delight, Cohen’s tearful response to the singing, the combination of the two or if I just have a special place in my heart for euphoric old men. Whatever the case, the live performance and crowd interaction seemed magical.

Leonard Cohen On Performing At Coachella

In that Los Angeles Times article mentioned at the first of this post, Cohen concluded his comments about Coachella by segueing, as reported by the interviewer, into an

… extended explanation of where the stage magic lies for him, the sweet spot between the practiced and the unexpected. Then, unhappy with the long route to an answer, the poet shrugged and took a four-word path: “There is a flicker.”

A Special Perspective From Leonard Cohen’s Oakland Concert

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Cohen In Context

A review of the April 13, 2009 Oakland concert, Leonard Cohen’s Perfect Offering by Gary Kamiya, is online at Salon.com It’s an interesting perspective, placing this show in the context of past tours and focusing not only on the performance but also on the notion of Cohen dealing with old age without self-delusion, false bravado, or fearfulness.

I’ve excerpted passages in hopes of convincing viewers that the entire piece is worth perusal.

For the people fortunate enough to see Leonard Cohen on his current national tour, as I did Monday night at Oakland, Calif.’s Paramount Theater, the world is a bigger, deeper, older, more bitter and radiant place. Every Cohen performance is an epic event. And in his three-hour-plus performance, part of his first tour in 15 years, the great songwriter, poet and novelist once again used his powerful body of work to create, for one night, a theater of his life, a public confession so intimate, complex, combative and profound that it felt as much like prayer as performance. At the end of the evening, as the audience floated out, still transported to whatever unknown inner place his words and music had carried them, you could almost feel a palpable sense of collective gratitude that such artistry still exists in a weary world — that Leonard Cohen is still around.

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For those of us still hiding from the revenges planned by the whirligig of time, it can be hard to look. This is the fourth or fifth time I’ve seen Cohen perform. The first time was sometime in the 1970s — it’s been so long I don’t remember exactly. The last was on his mid-’90s tour, during the remarkable career renaissance spurred by his superb 1988 album, “I’m Your Man.” In a stock line he uses in every show, but which surely brings down the house every time, Cohen noted that the last time he performed was 14 or 15 years ago, then deadpanned, “I was 60 years old. Just a crazy kid with a dream.” In those 14 years, Cohen went from being a brilliantly sardonic middle-aged man (“Now my friends are gone and my hair is gray/ I ache in the places where I used to play”) to a brilliantly sardonic old man. In his black suit and fedora, he looks like a cross between an aging hipster and a retired Jewish haberdasher, with a little John Updike thrown in. It’s a cool look, and Cohen is trim and spry (in a delightful touch, he skipped off the stage at end of each set), but there’s no hiding the fact that the golden boy is gone and won’t come back.

But, of course, Cohen knows this, and talks about it, and plays with it, and interrogates it. At one point in his second set, he said that he’d been working out, and slyly opened his suit jacket to reveal his (flat) stomach. “But it’s too late,” he said. And then, after a beat: “It’s always been too late.” Old age, like everything else for Cohen, is a curiosity to be investigated. It’s inescapable, and yet in a certain sense it can be overcome. During his memorable version of “I’m Your Man,” which like all of his unabashed love songs falls like a redemptive rain after the caustic romantic pessimism of much of his other work, he made one of his characteristic, intriguing tweaks to his lyrics: following the line, “If you want another kind of lover,” he changed the original “I’ll wear a mask for you” to “I’ll wear an old man’s mask for you.” Cohen’s point seemed to be that his old age is real, but it is also a mask, and that beneath it, the same youthful fire of passion and devotion burns. In fact, maybe it burns higher and hotter, as he gets closer to what he calls “closing time.” It certainly felt like that Monday night.

These photos by Aki Gibbons , shot from the seating area of the Oakland Paramount Theatre rather than from onstage or the apron of the stage, impressively evoke the sense of the venue.

More Pix From Oakland

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These two photos (click on images for better viewing), taken by gussifer | thecolorawesome.com, are from the April 14, 2009 Leonard Cohen Concert in Oakland. I’m especially taken with the marquee shot (I have a small town boy’s fascination with marquees) above and with the photo below, in part because it shows the Webb Sisters in full flip mode (for video of Webb Sisters cartwheeling, see “Webb Sisters Cartwheel From Oakland Into Your Hearts” directly following this section and for the evolution of this program segment, see the section below headed “White Man Dancing”).

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Leonard Cohen Oakland Paramount Concert (April 14, 2009)

Webb Sisters Cartwheel From Oakland Into Your Hearts

A quality video of the White Girls Dancing, Synchronized Cartwheel Modification, an obligatory floor exercise in contemporary Leonard Cohen concerts, has finally shown up on YouTube.

The setting is the Paramount Theater in Oakland, California. Leonard Cohen is midway through his performance of “The Future.” The camera is focused on Cohen while he sings, “There’ll be phantoms / There’ll be fires on the road,” and moves into his “White man dancing” choreography.

As Cohen sings “You’ll see a woman / hanging upside down,” the camera pans out, capturing the full stage contingent: Leonard Cohen, the band, and the three backup singers.

On “her features covered by her fallen gown,” the Webb Sisters remove their jackets.

And, just as Cohen growls, “Yeah, the white girls dancin’,” Charlie and Hattie19 turn, execute simultaneous cartwheels to enthusiastic applause from a seemingly surprised (apparently non-Heck Of A Guy reading) audience, and return to their places alongside Sharon Robinson.

And it’s all on camera. 20 (For a still photo of the cartwheels, see section directly above this one, labeled “More Pix From Oakland.” For the evolution of this program segment, see the section below headed “White Man Dancing.”)

Leonard Cohen – The Future (Oakland Paramount 4/13/09)

Oh heck, it’s worth seeing again, if only to judge whether the Webb Sisters’ gymnastic skills have progressed. This sequence is from the Ottawa concert in May 2009.

Leonard Cohen – The Future (Ottawa 2009)

New, Unreleased “Lullaby” By Leonard Cohen From Grand Prairie Concert

A video of Leonard Cohen singing “Lullaby,” his new, unreleased song is now online.

Leonard Cohen – Lullaby (Grand Prairie, TX April 3, 2009)

Note: The scene on the video screen is fixed and serves only as background to the audio recording of the song.

Leonard Cohen Back In L.A.

cohen-nokia

Leonard Cohen Makes Sublime Magic in L.A. by Ben Wener (The Orange County Register , April 11, 2009) is an outstanding review of Leonard Cohen’s April 10, 2009 Nokia concert, nicely blending the writer’s personal perspective with reporting of the  performance itself.  These excerpts are representative:

Like a lot of Gen-X’ers, I initially noticed his chilling tone and jazz-folk style in movies, for which his noir sound is ideal. First there was the zinger-rich “Everybody Knows” in “Pump up the Volume” (1990). Then came the apocalyptic triptych (including “The Future,” inspired by the L.A. riots) that Oliver Stone used to great effect in “Natural Born Killers” in 1994, the same year so many of us first heard Jeff Buckley’s heavenly, heartbreaking rendition of one of Cohen’s greatest achievements, the oft-revived “Hallelujah.”

Later I saw Robert Altman’s masterpiece “McCabe & Mrs. Miller” (1971), a frontier Western like no other, with a sparse but resonant score comprised entirely of pieces from the bard’s 1967 debut, “Songs of Leonard Cohen.” Only then, hearing his tales of “some Joseph looking for a manger” and finding comfort with “Sisters of Mercy,” did I begin to instinctively grasp the magnetic pull of Cohen’s music: It creeps up on you and lingers. Once it’s in your soul, it never leaves.

… There’s the wizened doomsayer of “The Future” (he’s seen it, and it’s murder) or “Everybody Knows,” perfectly embodied in Cohen’s typical fashion of black suit, gray shirt, bolo tie, Fedora hat hiding his eyes like a spy except for when he doffs it to give deep bows to the crowd or his exceptional musicians. (Standouts from his uniformly excellent nine-member ensemble: the frantic but liquid fretwork of Javier Mas on the 12-string banduria, the supple soloing of guitarist Bob Metzger, and the subtly dazzling detailing of Neil Larsen on Hammond B-3 organ.)

Bolstered by such nuanced support, Cohen can get so caught up in the moment that at times he’ll wiggle on the balls of his feet with his shoulders hunched up, like an elderly Blues Brother, or drop to his knees to underscore a dramatic point. Yet all the while he retains the stoic air of a private detective plucked from another era and plopped into chaotic modern times – more like the character Lemmy Caution lost in Godard’s dystopia “Alphaville” than Bogart in “The Big Sleep.”

Photo is by Kelly A. Swift from the same article.

The entire piece is well worth reading.  That link is Leonard Cohen Makes Sublime Magic in L.A.

Hi-ho Lenny – Leonard Cohen, The Singing Cowboy

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Leonard Cohen - Dallas 2009

Photo by Anne M Bray

From Concert Report: Grand Prairie (Apr 3) by ProfNowlin on LeonardCohenForum

And for those of you who have not yet heard the new song, “Lullaby,” you are in for a real treat! The between-songs addresses to the audience were pretty much recycled from the earlier tour (as I’ve gathered from the recordings of the London and the Beacon shows), but they still felt authentic. Wearing a cowboy hat to perform the almost bluesy “I Tried to Leave You” did seem like a unique-to-Texas touch… [emphasis mine]

A Thousand Kisses Deep In The Heart Of Texas

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I’m Your Man Video From The Dallas Concert

The video of “I’m Your Man” from the Leonard Cohen Nokia Theatre Concert (Grand Prairie/Dallas) is absent the first and last fractions of the song but does benefit from good focus, a steady hand (or competent electronic stabilization), and decent quality sound.

The best received moment of “I’m Your Man,” comes at about the 1:10 mark when Roscoe Beck, playing the bass guitar, echoes Cohen’s elongated, plaintive “Please.”

There is also a brief solo by Dino Soldo, perhaps better known to aficionados of Cohen’s band introductions as “The Master Of Wind,” a title that could launch a thousand puns. Some critics deride his contributions to Cohen’s performance as superfluous at best and often distracting. I admit to enjoying the semi-exotic effect of his instruments.21

dino

I also confess that the first time I saw his photo (that’s Dino on your right in the above photo), I thought he might have been hired as Leonard’s bodyguard.

Leonard Cohen – I’m Your Man (Dallas April 3, 2009)

A Thousand Kisses Deep Video From The Dallas Concert

“A Thousand Kisses Deep” also starts a few seconds into the recitation, and its production values are not up to the standards of the “I’m Your Man” video, but – well, I really like this presentation of the poem and now prefer it to the song of the same title.

Readers unfamiliar with the poem may benefit from the provision of those missing lines from the video of “A Thousand Kisses Deep.” The first words Cohen speaks on the video are

You’d have to be a man to know

How good that feels, how sweet.

The two lines preceding those, if Cohen used the words of his poem from the Book Of Longing which he has in other venues on the World Tour,22 are

You came to me this morning

And you handled me like meat.

Leonard Cohen – A Thousand Kisses Deep (Dallas April 3, 2009)

Leonard Cohen Did Dallas April 3, 2009

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While the  opening to Concert Review: Leonard Cohen at Nokia Theatre by Mandi Collier (see below) may be the most inspired lines of the piece, the rest of the review is reassuring to Cohen fans although it breaks no new ground.

Friday night, Nokia Theatre was transformed from a mid-sized, 6,000 capacity venue, to an old-school jazz lounge. With the mezzanine closed and the blue lights low, the ambiance was set for a night dedicated to songwriting legend Leonard Cohen.

Leonard Cohen – Famous Blue Raincoat (Dallas)

Leonard Cohen Famous Blue Raincoat Dallas 2009 from Mr. Luna on Vimeo.

Leonard Cohen Performs Unreleased Song in Austin Concerts April 1 & 2, 2009

The concerts were routinely superb. In addition, however, the Austin shows marked the first appearance of new or unreleased music in any of the concerts of this tour – which may or may not be significant.

Among the songs played as part of the encore was “Lullaby,”23 the song Cohen discussed in his February 20, 2009 interview with Rolling Stone.24

The introduction of this song could presage development of the long awaited album of new Leonard Cohen songs that has been the subject of discussion since at least as long ago as June 2006.25

Historically, however, Cohen has sometimes performed unreleased music in his concerts that was never to be issued as part of an album. An excellent example of this phenomenon would be one of my personal favorites, “Do I Have To Dance All Night,”26 which was frequently played as the final song of concerts for a couple of years and was issued in Europe as a 45 rpm single but was never released in the US or as part of an album.

For now, the addition of “Lullaby” to the current concert set list is a “how about that” sort of thing that bears monitoring.

Update:  For more about “Lullaby” see The Leonard Cohen 2009 Austin Concert below.

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Click on images for best viewing.

The Leonard Cohen 2009 Austin Concert

The Austin concert was dramatically captured in these photos from Laura Lea Nalle. Accompanying theses images is a review of the performance that is striking both for the quality of its assessments and the thoroughness of its coverage.

Photos and excerpted text by Laura Lea Nalle. More pictures of the concert and the complete review can be found at the link.

Dino Soldo

there are two particularly exceptional highlights – Spanish guitar virtuoso Javier Mas and the young master of multiple brass and woodwind instruments Dino Soldo. Mas is undeniably sophisticated and inspired in his instrumentation, with his exotic rhythms and sounds of traditional Spanish string instruments weaving seamlessly throughout Cohen’s compositions with a rare and awe inspiring sensibility. Soldo’s range in terms of his apparent musical and spiritual depth and his mastery of multiple instruments is astonishing; his presence on stage outshines even the brightest of his already brilliant peers; and his saxophone solos are an occasion to lose yourself, just so he can lead you back again.

… Soldo opens “No Cure For Love” with a beautiful tenor sax solo. He is an electrifying talent, effortlessly switching from tenor saxophone to an electric wind instrument, to chromatic harmonica, to keyboards and backup vocals, to bassoon and bass clarinet, all while dancing and moving to the music with a look of divine possession on his face.

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The Healing Chant

After intermission, Cohen skips back onto the stage to take his place behind his keyboard for “Tower of Song,” accompanied only by a sampler, the Webb sisters and Sharon Robinson on vocals, and Larsen on the B-3. With the push of a button, Cohen starts the song and then plays a charmingly clunky keyboard solo. The crowd cheers wildly, to which he replies, “You are very kind.” Cohen pleads to the women to keep going with their angelic “doo dum dum dum da doo dum dum’s.” “Don’t stop,” he says, “Oh please, don’t stop, I’m not ready to go on to the next thing. [crowd laughs] Ahhh sing me down to sleep angels, sing me through the bitter morning. I am gathering myself, we’re all gathering ourselves, we are all healing ourselves, it’s almost done,” to which the ladies kindly oblige until Cohen proclaims, “We are healed, thank you.”

“Lullaby” – The Unreleased Leonard Cohen Song

While no video or audio recording of the recently added “Lullaby” has been found, Ms Nalle’s review provides a thorough and evocative description:

Then we hear the beginnings of a very special debut of a new unreleased song, “Lullaby” which is a down tempo tune with a triplet feel that weaves an exquisite dance of slide guitar, harmonica, and B-3 while Cohen croons, “When it’s much too late, and we’ve taken our stand, when they call out your name, we’ll go hand in hand. If your heart is torn, who can wonder why? If the night is long, here is my lullaby, here’s my lullaby.”

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Thank You So Much Friends

And, no one closes with a more heartfelt benediction than Leonard Cohen:

“I don’t know when we’ll meet again. Until then, take care of yourselves. May you fall on the side of luck, may you be surrounded by friends and family, and if none of these is yours, may the blessings find you in your solitude. Thank you so much friends, goodnight, take care.”

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Leonard Cohen July 17, 2008 O2 Arena Concert Becomes Leonard Cohen: Live In London Album

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Leonard Cohen’s first album in five years, Live in London, will be released on March 31. The 2-CD/26-track set was recorded last July 17 at London’s O2 Arena. A DVD will be released on the same day.

Pre-Release Videos

Update: As indicated, the pre-release videos were available for a limited time and are no longer accessible.

Pre-Release Webcasts

Update: As indicated, the pre-release webcasts were available for a limited time and are no longer accessible.

  • CBC: From March 24 to March 30, the CBC offers audio streaming of all tracks of Cohen’s upcoming Live In London release at CBC Spotlight
  • NPR: NPR Music will stream the entire Leonard Cohen Live In London album from 11:59 p.m. March 23 until March 31 at NPR First Listen

The February 20, 2009 Leonard Cohen Interviews

From the beginning of the World Tour on May 11, 2008 until February 20, 2009, Leonard Cohen had granted only one interview, a wide ranging affair which took place June 4, 2008 at Hamilton Place.27 The day after the Beacon Theatre concert, however, at least three major newspapers, The New York Times, The Globe and Mail, and the LA Times, lined up for serial interviews with Leonard Cohen at the Warwick Hotel.

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The best of the batch (so far) is Leonard Cohen reborn in the U.S.A. by Geoff Boucher at Pop & Hiss, the L.A. Times music blog. It covers Cohen’s career and his current role in pop music in depth and takes an especially insightful look at Cohen’s perspective on his legacy. It also offers an unusually accurate portrait of Cohen’s sojourn at a Zen monastery.

Even when Pop and Hiss plays up the local angle, it does so in an interesting way. The discussion of Cohen’s participation at Coachella, for example, centers around his concern that the venue presents disadvantages compared to typical concert halls.

“We’d played festivals in the past, and I’m not crazy about the setup. You’re on a roster with a whole lot of other people. You don’t have the evening. I like to be in a room with people for three hours, have a beginning, middle and an end. We can’t do our whole set, it’s not our rhythm. But we have heard it’s a special hospitality there. We’ll play our best and look forward to it.”

And, that segues into Cohen’s

… extended explanation of where the stage magic lies for him, the sweet spot between the practiced and the unexpected. Then, unhappy with the long route to an answer, the poet shrugged and took a four-word path: “There is a flicker.”

The entire article is a worthwhile read, but take special care not to miss the last section, “No fretting over his legacy,” which is simply outstanding.

This LA Times interview can be found at Leonard Cohen reborn in the U.S.A..

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The high points of the Globe and Mail piece follow:

Roscoe Beck, the Tour’s Musical Director, provides an interesting point of view on Cohen’s well known predilection for improvisation and on the spot adaption of the programs:

Cohen likes to feel the mood in a room and react, in a process he says is almost spiritual. Which is why, as his music director and bassist Roscoe Beck explained a couple of hours before the show, Cohen tries to leave himself open to momentary whims onstage. “It’s heads-up at all times,” said Beck, who has played with Cohen since 1979 and put together the band for the current tour. “We may land on a chord and he just may feel that it’s not time to come in singing yet, just emotionally it’s a nice moment, and he’ll decide to extend that moment another bar. We have to be ready for that, we have to be ready for anything. A lyric change, an added bar, a different song.”

As is often the case, Leonard Cohen transforms the same overdone topics into worthwhile reading. He comments, for example, on the process of touring:

“The response has been very, very, very hospitable, and it’s been a generally very nourishing experience,” Cohen begins, slowly. “We’ve been all over the world, and you know, one is never sure that it’s going to work again. You’re never sure from concert to concert, actually, because there’s some part of it you don’t command.”

During the recounting of his financial woes, Cohen ruefully recalls guidance received from an earlier adviser:

He leans back and recalls a moment four decades past. “When I first went down to New York from Montreal to pursue some sort of career,” he says, “my mother, who I always thought was kind of naive – she was Russian, her English was imperfect – she said to me, ‘Leonard, you be careful of those people down there. They’re not like us.’ And of course, I didn’t say anything to disrespect, she was my mother, but in my mind I thought, ‘Mother, you know, I’m not a child.’ I was 32, I’d been around the block a few times.” He turns to face you, and a lopsided smile wafts across his lips. “But she was right. She was right.”

The final paragraph summarizes Cohen’s perspective on performing concerts on this tour at age 74:

Somehow, just in the nature of things, you know, the disappointments accumulate, and the obstacles multiply and you sense the destruction of your body, and your mind, and you feel here is the last arena – ‘arena’ is too big, the last boxing ring, or the last Ouija board, where you can examine some of the ideas that have intrigued you. That have seized you, really.

The complete Globe and Mail interview is available at Coffee and Candour with Cohen.

nytimesmasthead

The day after his first American concert in more than 15 years, Leonard Cohen sat in a Manhattan hotel suite warily submitting to an interviewer’s questions, including one about the music in his laptop’s iTunes. In response, he played a klezmer-style Hebrew hymn, then followed it by singing along with one of George Jones’s weepy country morality tales.

That is the beginning of The NY Times article. Most of the interview consists of the standard Leonard Cohen article items (e.g., Cohen’s financial losses, his Zen retreat, the US and Canada tour dates, his age and his energy, the songs favored in his concert sets, … ). The only arguably new information I can find follows:

Mr. Cohen said he hoped to make a new record when the tour ends, and offered to play one of his newer compositions. Tentatively called “Amen,” it features a Farfisa-style keyboard, a trumpetlike solo played by Mr. Cohen on his synthesizer and lyrics like this: “Tell me again when the filth of the butcher is washed in the blood of the lamb.”

The full interview, including a portion about Zen and Judaism captured on an audio recording, can be found at Leonard Cohen Returns to the Road, for Reasons Both Practical and Spiritual.

Best Of Leonard Cohen New York Beacon Theatre Concert

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Leonard Cohen Concert - Beacon Theater (click to enlarge)

The best photos of the February 19, 2009 concert, including the marquee shot shown above, are the Stereogum series of 20 photos by Ryan Muir found at Leonard Cohen @ Beacon Theater.

These shots by Jean @ Renovation Therapy are not only excellent in quality but are also taken from an intriguing angle. (Click on images to enlarge)

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Also recommended are those by Ricky Chapman at Paste and the shots by Christopher Owyoung at Featured Photos: Leonard Cohen at the Beacon Theatre, which include this proof that Leonard Cohen – and perhaps only Leonard Cohen, can come off as elegantly attired while wearing a bolo tie.

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Leonard Cohen - Beacon Theater (19 Feb 2009)

The best reviews (in this case, “best reviews” means the most thoughtful comments about the concert rather than chauvinistic preening about Leonard Cohen being scheduled to appear in the city from which the review originates) follow:

NPR Bonus Webcast Of Concert

Update: As indicated, the NPR pre-release webcast was available for a limited time and is no longer accessible.

The NPR offering, Leonard Cohen, Live At The Beacon Theatre by Bob Boilen includes not only a decent overview (I suggest supplementing this piece with Boilen’s insightful blog posting about the concert, Musings: Leonard Cohen Live In NYC) but also a webcast of the performance.  The entire Leonard Cohen Concert performed Feb 19, 2009 in New York can be heard from Feb 26 to March 26, 2009 at NPR Webcast – Leonard Cohen Beacon

Theatre Concert. This information is also available in the right sidebar under the heading, “NPR Webcast of Leonard Cohen NYC Concert.”

Beacon Theatre Concert Videos

Leonard Cohen – A Thousand Kisses Deep (Beacon Theatre)

Leonard Cohen – Democracy Is Coming To The USA (Beacon Theatre)

Leonard Cohen – Hallelujah (Beacon Theatre)

Superb Photos of Leconfield Winery Concert

Adelaide, Australia January 26, 2009

Click on any photo to enlarge image

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Credit Due Department: Photos by Paul, reproduced with permission

The Tower Of Song Video Trilogy

Tower Of Song has repeatedly been one of the best received songs during the Tour and appears to be the one, judging from his facial expressions and his animation, that Leonard Cohen most enjoys performing. Because it is crammed with humorous moments and because it often follows directly after Leonard Cohen’s introductory comments to the crowd (which I wanted to capture), I have been unable to find a single video that captures all the important aspects of the presentation. It has required, in fact, portions of 3 different videos to do it justice.

1. Leonard Cohen – Just a kid with a crazy dream … pharmaceutical recitation28 …  but cheerfulness kept breaking through Introduction and Don’t be alarmed, I’m going to start up this machine Lead-in To Tower Of Song (Geneva. October 27, 2008)

2. Leonard Cohen – Most Expressive Version Of Tower Of Song (Sofiero Sweden, July 3, 2008)

Cohen’s first words (drowned out in applause) are “No hands.” Also lost in the crowd’s response to his keyboard solo at 1:30-2:00 is his acknowledgment “You’re very kind.”  Also of  note: hat doff at “hair has turned gray,” audience singing along and wildly applauding “I was born like this, I  had no choice/ I was born with the gift of a golden voice.” (starts about 2:10), Cohen points to head in concert with the line, “You see, I hear these funny voices” (about 3:27).

3. Leonard Cohen – Ending Of Tower Of Song With Answer To The Timeless Question (Lisboa Portugal, July 20, 2008)

Update: Alternative Endings To Tower Of Song

In the second half of the North American leg of the tour, Leonard Cohen began routinely using a variety of endings rather than the straightforward answer to the timeless question lines.29 The words vary but the mood and sentiment are similar. This example from the Seattle concert is instructive.

Leonard Cohen Donates Cash To Australian Bushfire Victims

Excerpt: The elements of the Leonard Cohen World Tour, Leonard Cohen himself, current support act Paul Kelly, promoters AEGLive UK and the Frontier Touring Company are donating $200,000 (£90,000) to help victims of the bushfires that have swept across Victoria in Australia.

Leonard has loved his time in Australia on this tour and is shocked and deeply saddened by the news of the fires. Leonard, Paul, their touring parties and everyone at AEGLive UK and the Frontier Touring Company wish to extend their heartfelt sympathies to those that have suffered the loss of loved ones or their homes through this terrible tragedy.”

More info at Leonard Cohen Donates Cash To Australian Bushfire Victims

Best Description Of Leonard Cohen’s Tour Musicians

From Review: Leonard Cohen at Vector Arena By Russell Baillie (New Zealand Herald. Jan 23, 2009):

Somehow, Cohen’s ensemble, a sort of gypsy-soul rock-noir cabaret outfit dressed, as was their fedora-ed double-breasted leader like particularly stylish members of the French Resistance, were able to shrink the vastness of the venue down to the intimate scale of the music.

Those lines were the inspiration for this montage focusing on Leonard Cohen’s musicians from some of my favorite photos of the Leonard Cohen World Tour concerts.30 (Click on graphic to enlarge image.)

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Leonard Cohen Introduces Musicians

This video from the 2008 Leonard Cohen Manchester Concert not only identifies the members of the band and the backup singers but also demonstrates Cohen’s respect for his musicians.

Leonard Cohen – He Runs, He Skips, He (Writes) Scores

Leonard Cohen, a 74 year old entertainer with a self-admitted history of significant tobacco, alcohol, and illicit pharmaceutical use, maintained a tour schedule through 2008 that began with 22 concerts in 30 days (May 11 – June 9). Then, after 4 day break for travel, this so-called tour resumed on June 13th in Europe with 7 concerts in the first 8 days. Oh, and from September 21-November 30, Leonard Cohen allegedly performed 34 concerts in 28 cities across 15 countries.31

Nor are these concerts easy-going, ritualistic affairs, the purpose of which is no more than to allow fans to pay homage to a once-great entertainer. The newspaper reports describe an entirely different kind of event.

Cohen’s three-hour set masterpiece:32

… Leonard Cohen surprised and delighted his audience at the BIC last night (Tuesday) by literally sprinting onto the stage and performing a three hour show.

Leonard Cohen at the Brighton Centre33

Like a surreal gangster in double-breasted suit and trademark Fedora, Leonard Cohen skipped on to the stage to a deafening and reverential welcome at the Brighton Centre.

Friday 14/11/08 Leonard Cohen @ The O2 Arena, London:34

After a seemingly endless string of encores (with Cohen skipping on and off stage between each) it’s obvious that Leonard Cohen has finally come to enjoy life and the songs that he has written that have touched so many.

Even more impressive is watching one of these exercises – note Cohen’s exit and re-entrance at the end of this encore presentation of First We Take Manhattan at the O2 in London on November 18, 2008.

White Man Dancing

There’ll be the breaking of the ancient western code
Your private life will suddenly explode
There’ll be phantoms
There’ll be fires on the road
and the white man dancing
You’ll see a woman
hanging upside down
her features covered by her fallen gown
and all the lousy little poets
coming round
tryin’ to sound like Charlie Manson
and the white man dancin’

~From “The Future” by Leonard Cohen

The concerts have featured Cohen not only running, skipping, and performing “high kicks,” but also illustrating the “white man dancing” lyrics of “The Future,” as demonstrated in the videos below.35

In the first part of the tour, the dance was a measured shuffle, carefully executed.

Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada (May 23, 2008)

Sometime during the next two months, the dance became more adventuresome.

Leonard Cohen – The Future – Lisboa (July 19, 2008)

And the cast of dancers expanded.

White Girls Dancing

At some point in the Tour, the second “white man dancin’” became “white girls dancin’.”

Again, at first the choreography was rather prim. Keep your eyes on the Webb Sisters at the far left side of the stage.

Leonard Cohen – The Future – Westerpark (July 12, 2008)

As time passed and the future became more imminent, things started to slide, slide in all directions.

Leonard Cohen – The Future – Rotterdam (Nov 7, 2008)

While less clear than the preceding shot, the final video (in which the camera is actually focused on a giant video screen beside the stage) does include the full sequence of the same moves.

Leonard Cohen – The Future – Rotterdam (November 04, 2008)

Update: Even Better Images Of Webb Sisters Cartwheeling

For an excellent still photo and a high quality video of the cartwheels, see above sections headed “More Pix From Oakland” and “Webb Sisters Cartwheel From Oakland Into Your Hearts.”

The Best TV Ad For A Leonard Cohen Concert I’ve Ever Seen

OK, it’s also the only TV ad for a Leonard Cohen concert I’ve ever seen. In fact,  the immense cognitive dissonance generated by a TV ad for Cohen is the actual reason this is posted.
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Update: The same commercial with language and place name changes was broadcast for the Prague concert and is now available on YouTube.

I also saw an ad broadcast for the American tour, but cannot find it on YouTube.

Leonard Cohen – Bird On A Wire36 (Auckland New Zealand, Jan 22, 2009)

Leonard Cohen – A Thousand Kisses Deep, Spoken Word Version (London O2 Nov 16, 2008)

Michael Foley’s Photos of the Dublin Concert June 14, 2008

These photos and explicative text were originally posted at The Leonard Cohen Dublin Photo Session With Michael Foley. The full galley of photos, the author’s notes, and the review are still available at that link.37

Leonard Cohen in Concert - Dublin, June 14, 2008
Leonard Cohen in Concert – Dublin, June 14, 2008

A magical concert in Dublin

A singer and a city come together

Credit Due Department

These photos were, again, the work of Michael Foley of Michael Foley Photography. The Dublin Concert photos were found in his Flickr account. Both his web site and his Flickr photostream house a bounty of work that is skillfully and creatively constructed.

Dublin Audience Waltzes To Leonard Cohen

This enchanting photo by Karl Smyth shows members of the audience at Leonard Cohen’s Dublin Concert waltzing to – yep – “Take This Waltz.”

Leonard Cohen Jokes About Sharon Robinson’s Idea For His Drinking Problem (Toronto Canada, June 6, 2008 )

Leonard Cohen At Centennial Vineyards

In this tour, Leonard Cohen has performed at intimate playhouses in Eastern Canada, huge stadiums in Europe, large theaters in Britain and Eastern Europe, festivals in England, France, Italy, and Switzerland, and, now, four vineyards in Australia. These photos are from the performance at one of those vineyards, the Feb 1, 2009 concert at Bowral, and were taken by Amanda at Flop Eared Mule.

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Leonard Cohen at Centennial Vineyards - Bowral, Australia (click image to enlarge)

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Audience - Centennial Vineyards - Bowral, Australia (click image to enlarge)

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Leonard Cohen Towering At Keyboard (click image to enlarge)

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Leonard Cohen Focuses (click image to enlarge)

Video From The Leonard Cohen Rochford Winery Concert

The camera angle of this video from another of the winery concerts is suboptimal, but the this segment, beginning with the “Just a kid with a crazy dream … pharmaceutical recitation … but cheerfulness kept breaking through” sequence, extending through the reference to the specific location of the concert, and segueing into the performance of Anthem (which is abruptly ended before the song’s conclusion) nicely demonstrates Leonard Cohen connecting with the audience.

Interviews With The Leonard Cohen Concert Troop

Uncut - December 2008 (Outside UK)

Uncut - December 2008 (Outside UK)

The  Uncut interviews with Cohen’s Tour Team are now online. Links to the full interviews along with a sample excerpt from each are listed below.

Sharon Robinson

Leonard on tour: what other memories come to mind?

He’s a devoted workhorse. He works harder than any of the rest of us, and has reserves of energy that no one can quite tell where they come from. And he is moved by the response of the audience, and the overall sense of an almost spiritual connection that is going on between him, his work and his audience. The whole thing is a real phenomenon, and Leonard is very moved by that.

How different is he than when you toured with him before?

He’s a little older. He’s been through a number of personal changes. He’s quite a bit happier than when I knew him 30 years ago. His voice is lower, but he’s singing great. He’s doing very well. As he’s said, the unexpected lifting of a certain dark cloud, that depression that has been well-documented, is a big change.

Javier Mas

Has he said why he wants the concerts to be so long?

He really wants to play for the audience. He’s so happy to come back, for the response he finds from the audience. Sometimes, the audience stand up and clap even before we start. He wants to give them everything, so that makes for a long concert. In Athens, people were clapping and screaming for one song, so we had to play it too. When you are up there, you forget about your age!

What have been the best moments of the tour so far?

It was great that we started in Canada. We had four nights in a great big beautiful theatre in Toronto, and the second was maybe the best concert we’ve had. Manchester. Athens was very good, they like Leonard there – “Sisters of Mercy” and “So Long, Marianne” were inspired by there. And in Lisbon [going to re-check, Spanish pronunciation] it was amazing. The people were singing the songs outside the concert, and sometimes they sang better than we played! Those were very emotional nights. I think this music is made to be played in theatres, like our four nights in Manchester, not in festivals. But people want so much to seem him – we don’t even have tickets for family.

Leif Bodnarchuk38

What have the highlights been for you?

The first show, Fredericton was a mind blower – the initial audience reaction to Leonard’s presence on stage was amazing. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a genuinely enthusiastic reception. I’ve see kids go wild, but this older audience was incredible. Over on stage left, we were stunned! I don’t think I’ve seen a stage entrance reception that rivals it. The Dublin crowd are my personal running favourite; they sang the loudest and had the most fun of that leg. And the crowd in Glastonbury was overwhelming. It was a surreal experience. Call me crazy, but even I got a little emotional!

Charley and Hattie Webb

CHARLEY: Back then, [at Fredericton], Hattie and I weren’t plugged into what to expect. We’d never seen Leonard live before. A religious experience is an appropriate phrase, for how people see his shows. We would walk on – and it took a while to harden to being affected by grown men and women crying and sobbing and screaming directly in front of you. But Leonard seems to be warmed by that. It’s almost like he could part the Red Sea. He lifts up his microphone, and everything settles.

HATTIE: In Fredericton, it was quite overwhelming. Everybody felt it was going to be quite an electric atmosphere. But it was beyond anything that we’d imagined. And so intimate. That was a very small theatre. I think it was a very smart way of Leonard to start the tour. Instead of being in an enormous arena with less personal connection, you could really see the faces of the first twenty rows. It was so tiny, it was like one of those old London theatres. You could almost picture people in Victorian dress. Leonard immediately connected with people, and his own nerves dissipated within a couple of songs.

CHARLEY: We all knew what a weighty night that was.

And Dublin? The first gig in Europe…

CHARLEY: Dublin was raucous, high-energy. We were freezing to death on-stage. It was the coldest I’ve ever been, all of our kneecaps were going up and down, trying not to completely shudder. It was outdoors at night, and the hardy Irish were swinging and dancing in the rain to “So Long, Marianne”, knowing all the words. The outside atmosphere and the weather added to a completely different energy.

Was that raucous energy consistent through the Dublin shows, though?

HATTIE: It was. There were three nights in Dublin, but the second was the first to be booked and officially sold. The first night was energetic, but the second, with all the die-hards, was absolutely mental.

CHARLEY: The security people got completely squashed and swept out of the way by the tides of people coming towards the front, insisting on polkaing and waltzing. Cameramen even zoomed in and captured some couples on their knees – one person was proposing with a ring during “I’m Your Man”. It was crazy.

How did the songs stand up to that atmosphere?

HATTIE: Something like “Take This Waltz” is very uplifting. Everybody was singing along to that, and “So Long, Marianne” is quite a chanty, beer-swilling song.

Bruce Rodgers39

Is there a theme that you were working with, design-wise?

Not necessarily a theme but I took the approach to design the set as an extension of who Leonard is to me, Leonard is a very elegant gentleman and dresses that way. His music is from the heart and he’s also a great artist. He allows us to see into his heart when he sings and I wanted the feel of the set to be like him, subtle and silvery grey and translucent, mysterious and full of light at times, dark and moody at others. My setting this not only gave me the feelings I was after but also gives Anne the ability to tone the space thru out the evening.

Roscoe Beck40

And new songs forthcoming?

Well, he’s writing. He’s already got some things written. He’s played me two of the songs. And there are more new songs. I saw him writing on the plane yesterday, in his notebooks. And he’s talked to me about wanting to do a new record. But it will probably be when the touring’s done. Just because we still have dates – we’re in Europe until December 1, we’ll break for Christmas, then I think we’re going to Hawaii, New Zealand, Australia and the Far East, after that will be the US and Western Canada, so there’s at least that much touring before we can start on a record. That will probably take us to at least October 2009 before we can even think about recording.

New songs.?

Well, you know, these things are always subject to change, and I do know a couple of titles but I wouldn’t want to give them away in case somebody took them…

Wilfred Langmaid

The subject of the final interview proves a surprising choice. Wilfred Langmaid is described by Uncut thusly:

He’s been a critic for New Brunswick’s English-language newspaper The Daily Gleaner for over 25 years, and written often about Cohen during that period, including coverage of the first night of the “comeback” tour in Langmaid’s hometown of Fredericton. He also happens to be an Anglican chaplain.

And, indeed, the interview deals exclusively with the first concert of the tour, which was held in Fredericton. An excerpt follows:

What was the response when he arrived on stage?

When he appeared on the stage, there was a two-minute sta  nding ovation. Not a note was playing. Just the fact that he was there. We just rose to our feet. He looked out with that nervous, shy smile, and kept bowing and nodding his head; a sheepish grin, but certainly loving every moment of it. He knew that we were thrilled to have him there. And we certainly knew, based on what he said, but more importantly what he did musically and artistically, that he was really thrilled to be with us. There must have been some misgivings, some second thoughts: “Oh, my heaven! I’m really doing this!” But the band were in the pocket right from the get-go. Leonard did well from the outset, but he seemed a little jittery, for the first couple of songs; he made reference to it. But by the fourth song, “Bird on the Wire” – that was in the four-spot. The nervousness was gone. He was fully engaged, and just sailing along. He was at his best. The voice was far stronger than I expected. The energy was strong. He was playful throughout the evening. He was gracious, he was thinking on his feet. It became clear in hindsight, having read accounts of other shows, that some “ad-libbed” lines were well-rehearsed – being a “60-year-old kid with a crazy dream…” But other moments were clearly off the cuff. People would say things, respectfully, between songs, and he would banter back and forth, and it was all very playful. At the start of set two, when he was getting the keyboard programmed for “Tower of Song”, he pressed a wrong button, and laughed and had to put his glasses on. He was literally feeling his way. “So Long Marianne” was completely transformed – a totally different cadence, 4/4, not 3/3. He defined it in a different way, as Dylan would. For those of us who were fanatics, we’d hear those early licks and go: “Oh, yeah!” We’re going to get “Who by Fire…” “Oh, it’s this. It’s that…” It was a feeling I have not had since Grateful Dead concerts. Just joy. Having written about music since the late ’70s, this was way up there at the top. We never thought we’d see him again, let alone in our hometown.

Leonard Cohen Celebrates 74th Birthday With 10,000 Of His Closest Fans In Bucharest

The video below does not demonstrate excellent production standards but it does present an excellent experience. In addition to Cohen’s performance of Famous Blue Raincoat, one can hear, as the video starts, the final bars of the audience singing Happy Birthday to Leonard Cohen.

Leonard Cohen – Famous Blue Raincoat and Happy Birthday By Audience (Bucharest, Sept 21, 2009)

ONCE, The Only Live Cohen Interview During the 2008 Tour41

Brian Johnson interviewed Leonard Cohen for Macleans Magazine June 4, 2008 at Hamilton Place. As far as I can determine, this is the only live interview Leonard Cohen gave during the 2008 tour. Happily, the entire interview was videotaped and can be viewed below. In addition, a transcript of the interview can be found at Cohen wore earplugs to a Dylan show? I’ve pasted a couple of excerpts below to give the flavor of the piece:

Q: After 14 years off the road, what brought you back?

A: Well, one of the things was that pesky little financial situation, which totally wiped me out. So I’m very grateful that I had a way to make a living, because that was indicated in very powerful terms. It wasn’t the prime motivator. Thanks to the help of Robert Kory, who is unique among lawyers in that he deferred his fees until the situation was resolved, which is not just unusual but unheard of, I would say, for a lawyer in Los Angeles. So he was able to somehow right the shipwreck. As it turned out, I could have gotten by. But all the time, even when I was in the monastery at Mt. Baldy, there were times when I would ask myself, “Are you really never going to get up on a stage again?” It was always unresolved. It would arise. Not daily, not even monthly. But from time to time, I’d see my guitar. I was still writing songs. But the idea of performing was starting to recede further and further back. One of the reasons was that I was so wiped out physically by the end of my last tour because I was drinking heavily. I was drinking about three bottles of wine by the end of the tour.

Q: Three bottles a day?

A: Before every concert. I only drank professionally, I never drank after the concert. I would never drink after intermission. It was a long tour. It must have been 60 to 70 concerts.

Q: Why did you need to drink?

A: I was very nervous. And I liked drinking. And I found this wine, it was Château Latour. Now very expensive. It was even expensive then. It’s curious with wine. The wine experts talk about the flavour and the bouquet and whether it has legs and the tannins and the fruit and the symphonies of tastes. But nobody talks about the high. Bordeaux is a wine that vintners have worked on for about 1,000 years. Each wine has a very specific high, which is never mentioned. Château Latour, I don’t know how I stumbled on it, but it went with the music, and it went with the concert. I tried to drink it after the tour was over, and I could hardly get a glass down. It had no resonance whatsoever. It needed the adrenaline of the concert and the music and the atmosphere, the kind of desperate atmosphere of touring—desperate because I was drinking so much! I had a good time with it for a while, but it did wreck my health, and I put on about 25 pounds.

________________________

Q: What’s your relationship status these days?

A: With Anjani?

Q: Yes.

A: It’s a good relationship. I’ve known her for a long, long time. She’s just finished six songs of her own for a new album. She went to a little cabin in Wyoming for the last month and has written this album. So I’m very anxious to hear it.

Leonard Cohen Macleans Magazine Interview June 4, 2008

Present At Creation: Newspaper Reports Of The First Tour Concerts: Fredericton and Halifax

Leonard Cohen Performing In Halifax
  • Globe and Mail.com: He was Fredericton’s man While this is a competent review, it lacks the verve and energy typically found in the Globe and Mail coverage of Leonard Cohen. I do think this quote, which I extracted from the middle of the article, perhaps the best short summary of the staging of the night’s performance.

    “Onstage more than 2½ hours, Cohen certainly looked his age, a little stooped but dapper in a double-breasted suit and a fedora, which he removed to take a bow after each song. Cradling a hand-held microphone, he was able to move energetically around centre stage to interact with his band. He played two sets of eight songs each and four encores, including 1960s standards such as Suzanne, Bird on the Wire and So Long, Marianne as well as classics from his middle period in the 1980s and early 1990s such as Everybody Knows, Take This Waltz, Hallelujah and I’m Your Man.”

    While the article also notes that “there had been pre-show buzz that another musical collaborator, Cohen’s romantic partner, Anjani Thomas, would perform, but she did not appear,” Anjani’s decision to remain in LA to work on her own album was announced at least a week or two beforehand.

  • Daily Gleaner – Leonard Cohen wows FrederictonWilifred Langmaid provides a comprehensive, interesting review of Cohen’s performance at the Fredericton Playhouse.
  • Tower of Song – The Chronicle Herald (Pre-concert)

    THE UNPRECEDENTED response to the news that Montreal-born bard and Canadian music icon Leonard Cohen would be performing at Halifax’s Rebecca Cohn Auditorium and Glace Bay’s Savoy Theatre proves that his Tower of Song is a prime piece of real estate.

    I’m not sure how the Tower of Song real estate metaphor works either, especially given the depressed housing market these days, but the tone certainly sounds upbeat. While the Metro ) went with the “sense of humility” theme, the Chronicle Herald led with a fiscal touchstone:

    Tickets sold out rapidly, as the Cohn show grew from a one-night stand into a five-show stint, and the rare East Coast appearance by this complex and revered performer took on the aura of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. A quick scan of EBay sees Cohen’s Cohn tickets going for anywhere from $200 (with one day left in the auction), to a pair of front row centre seats priced to sell at nearly $1,200.

    The article rambles and is a bit disjointed in recounting Cohen’s biography but shines when the writer, Stephen Cooke, thoughtfully reflects on his own reactions to Cohen’s work.

  • First he takes Halifax – The Chronicle Herald (Post-concert)Best overall newspaper review (as of 13 May 2008; 5:58 AM). Stephen Cooke’s report of Leonard Cohen’s Halifax performance, although its headline conveniently overlooks Cohen’s performance the previous night in Fredericton) is exponentially more insightful and organized than the same writer’s article anticipating the concert. He writes, for example,
    Cohen and his band set the tone with Dance Me to the End of Love, summoning up a Euro-folk-jazz vibe augmented by Javier Mas’s gypsy guitar and Dino Soldo’s mellow electronic horn. The Montreal singer’s famous baritone came across soft and seductive, sounding even better than expected and nicely balanced by both the musicians and backup singers Sharon Robinson and the Webb sisters.

    This is an excellent, well written review well worth reading.

  • CBC: Cohen delivers fan favourites for tour kickoff in N.B.Despite documenting “the night’s many standing ovations,” the CBC report of Cohen’s opening night of his 2008 seems somewhat restrained, focusing on his performance of “fan favourites,” and “his greatest hits.” In a separate line, the CBC notes that ” No new material was showcased.” Much of the piece is taken up with the concert schedule rather than Cohen’s performance.
  • Metro – Concert shows Cohen still your manThe Metro blurb on Leonard Cohen’s appearance last night in Halifax is brief but sweet. The article does, however, conveniently forget that the tour actually opened previously in Fredrericton:

    “I hope you won’t be disappointed. Thanks for getting me started again,” added Cohen. His five sold-out nights at the Cohn come after a 15-year hiatus from arena touring and at the start of a world tour.” (emphasis mine)

May 11 2008: Tour Opens In Fredericton

There are photos and an outstanding review of the performance at LeonardCohenForum.

The photos and videos first appeared on Leonard Cohen Fan Pages at Facebook.

Leonard Cohen Talks To Audience (Fredericton Canada, 11 May 2008)

Includes discussion of pharmaceuticals taken by Cohen Vs those taken by audience members.

Leonard Cohen – Dance Me To The End Of Love (Fredericton Canada, 11 May 2008)

Leonard Cohen – Who by Fire (Fredericton Canada, 11 May 2008)

Leonard Cohen  – In My Secret Life (Fredericton Canada, May 11, 2008)

Leonard Cohen – Everybody Knows (Fredericton Canada, May 11, 2008)

Why The Leonard Cohen World Tour Opened in Eastern Canada42

The Playhouse - Fredericton, NB

The Playhouse - Fredericton, NB

Leonard Cohen inaugurated his 2008 World Tour on 11 May 2008 at the Playhouse in Fredericton, NB, a venue which, according to Wikipedia, has a capacity of 709 (469 orchestra seats and 240 balcony seats).

Fredericton Skyline

Fredericton Skyline

The city of Fredericton, also according to Wikipedia, is located in eastern Canada (see map below) and, in 2005, had a population of 50,535.

The Question: Why?

Indeed, why would the first concerts take place in a relatively isolated geographic area and in much smaller venues than those scheduled during the rest of the Tour (e.g., Toronto, Dublin, Manchester, Montreal, Oslo, Amsterdam, Rome)?

My Best Guess Why The Leonard Cohen Tour Opens In Fredericton

First, it appears significant that the small venues are at the first of the Tour. One also notes that extensive rehearsals by Cohen and his band have been reported.

Given that Cohen is working on a new album with a significant portion of the concert playlist coming from that collection of new work and that at least two of the backup singers (The Webb Sisters) haven’t worked with Cohen before, my bet is that the Cohen Tour opens in Eastern Canada for the same reason a musical comedy opens off-Broadway or in the Poconos – to work out the kinks and polish the performance before moving it to Broadway – or to bigger stadiums.

Fredericton is Leonard Cohen’s off-Broadway.

Unless it’s not.

Six Months Pass

Leonard Cohen and Rob Hallet

Leonard Cohen and Rob Hallet

The following is an excerpt from an interview with AEG concert promoter Rob Hallett, who played a significant role in making the current Leonard Cohen Tour a reality:43

[Interviewer:] Leonard Cohen is finishing his UK arena tour – how did you talk him out of retirement?

[Hallett:] It took some time. Leonard was trying to make some of the money back that had been stolen. [Cohen's manager stole $9.5m (£6.2m) in the 1990s.] At first he said, ‘I don’t know if anyone wants to see me. You must be joking’. We went back and forth over a couple of years. In the end, I offered to finance the rehearsals and said, ‘we’ll do some warm-up dates in Canada, and lets see what we’ve got’. So we were about $3m (£2m) in and 16 shows in Canada and we knew that we had a monster on our hands. When I first put an O2 show on sale everyone said, ‘what? Leonard Cohen in the O2?’ And we sold out three. It’s been a fantastic success. Everyone who’s seen the show almost without fail is saying this is the best show they’ve ever seen in their lives. [emphasis mine]

Readers may recall that DrHGuy, the gracious host of Heck Of A Guy, was criticized for hazarding, in Why The 2008 Leonard Cohen World Tour Is Opening In Fredericton (a post published the day before the first concert of the Tour) this guess:

… my bet is that the Cohen Tour opens in Eastern Canada for the same reason a musical comedy opens off-Broadway or in the Poconos – to work out the kinks and polish the performance before moving it to Broadway – or to bigger stadiums.

Fredericton is Leonard Cohen’s off-Broadway.

Unless it’s not.

DrHGuy suggests that “warm-up dates in Canada” and “Fredericton is Leonard Cohen’s off-Broadway” are congruent responses to “Why The 2008 Leonard Cohen World Tour Opened In Fredericton.”

Ahem

DrHGuy notes that his supposition about the reasons behind the decision to begin the Cohen Tour in smaller venues is hardly an insult to Fredericton or the other towns in the first leg of the Tour. DrHGuy does, on occasion, indulge in hyperbole in hopes of achieving comedic effect and apologizes if that was not evident. In any case, given that DrHGuy resides in a town smaller than Fredericton and that he would be willing to cut off the right arms of numerous other inhabitants of this town if it would result in a Leonard Cohen concert being held here, the only negative he associates with Fredericton Canada is his own ill-concealed jealousy.


___________________________

  1. 18 November 2008: The original intent of this page was to offer a summary of each concert of the Leonard Cohen 2008 World Tour.The death of a loved one shortly after this site opened and my consequent suspension of routine posting rendered that goal impractical. Instead, the focus has shifted to listing The Best Of The Leonard Cohen World Tour 2008-2009: the most moving photos, the best recordings of the music, the coolest videos, the odd, the strange, and, as always, much, much more. Although I have accumulated much of the material already, this task will not be accomplished overnight. On the other hand, it should be fun. []
  2. Three earlier versions of “Feels So Good” can be found at Leonard Cohen Plays Third Version Of “That Other Blues Song” At Durham Concert. Earlier versions of are available at Nashville, November 5, 2009 – Leonard Cohen Plays “Darkness” In Concert For First Time and “Darkness” From Leonard Cohen St Louis Concert []
  3. Hattie’s harp is apparently still part of the act but, according to a stagehand who has witnessed one of the secret rehearsals, “It isn’t the harp getting plucked, if you know what I mean.” []
  4. See 1st Video, New Leonard Cohen Song – The Darkness and Complete Version Of “The Darkness” – The New Leonard Cohen Song – Now Available []
  5. Neither blues song referenced in this post has an official name []
  6. See Leonard Cohen Plays Third Version Of “That Other Blues Song” At Durham Concert []
  7. “That other blues song” appears to distinguish the new song from “The Darkness”, a blues-oriented offering first recorded at the Vienna soundcheck. []
  8. Original label is “Famous Blue Raincoat” but the actual song is “Chelsea Hotel #2 []
  9. Details, including identities of the perpetrators are available at this Heck Of A Guy post []
  10. Special thanks to sturgess66, who pointed out Beck’s chapeau spinning. []
  11. Although the Google translation is, as usual, almost comic at points, the language approaches poetry at times, leaving those of us ignorant of Portugese wondering how lovely this newspaper review of a Cohen concert must be in its native idiom. []
  12. Basic information about Leonard Cohen and his relationship with Marianne can be found at Leonard Cohen – The Literary Years. []
  13. The exception is the “dry” photo of Cohen and Vega []
  14. A few more details about Yasmine’s life and career are available at Leonard Cohen Dedicates Concert To Yasmine []
  15. I first heard this felicitous phrase from Marie of Speaking Cohen []
  16. Yes, I’m on vacation so I wasn’t planning to post this week, but this shot of Cohen’s concert featured on the marquee of The Wang Theatre caught my eye. That and some other photos and a review are of such quality that publishing them in a timely manner was a pleasure rather than a task. []
  17. See LA Times Next At Leonard Cohen Interview-a-thon []
  18. To keep the rankings in context, consider this description of the #1 entry on this “Best of Coachella” list: 1. My Bloody Valentine: My Bloody Valentine was definitely the most sonically punishing set of the weekend – hands down my favorite performance. Their captivating and nosily melodic (too much of an oxymoron to let go) presence could be (physically) felt from the farthest ends of the festival grounds. Upon arriving to the festival Sunday morning, each fan was given a pair of ear plugs, a subtle but necessary warning for what was to come. Frontman Kevin Shield led his pedal-obsessive four-piece through a set of fan favorites and b-side gems. What separated My Bloody Valentine from every other band this weekend came from their EP title track “You Made Me Realise.” The relatively short song was painfully expanded by a 15 minute noise attack. The mass hysteria and confusion that hit the crowd during this 15 minutes of chaos is nearly inexplicable. One person I spoke to described the experience as “swimming in a pool of Jello, if the Jello was made of white noise.” Here’s my best attempt at explaining the experience: it felt as if I was standing inside of the turbine of a space shuttle taking off into space. The physical push of the sound was enough to make some fans faint, others scream senselessly, but most importantly, it brought a group of 60,000 people together with a unique experience that few will ever truly understand. And to think that they went back into the song afterwards, untuned strings and all – that takes a lot of guts in my book. I can only wonder what Kevin Shields’ parents thought of his band practices when he was growing up. []
  19. Yes, I’m on a first name basis with the Webb Sisters. Well, I know their first names – and they know their first names; they just don’t know who I am. []
  20. The video should automatically begin just before the desired sequence. Unfortunately, I do not have a practical means by which to automatically stop the video before the end. The viewer can, of course, simply turn off the player at any point. To see some or all of the video that takes place before the automatic start, drag the indicator (the circular button on the bottom bar) to the left. []
  21. Perhaps his music seems exotic to me because there were few occasions as a youth that I heard the Akai EWI4000 Electric Woodwind or the Axis-64 played in broadcasts of the Grand Ole Opry. []
  22. In the Book of Longing version, the line is not “You’d have to be a man to know” but instead reads, “You’d have to live alone to know.” []
  23. Documented by several sources, including the set lists published by the Decider Austin. []
  24. See last section of Leonard Cohen Rolling Stone Interview Offers Fragments Of New Songs But Little Else []
  25. See Two Very Raw, Unreleased Leonard Cohen Songs “Puppets” And “Book Of Longing” []
  26. See The Best Leonard Cohen Song You’ve Never Heard (Probably) []
  27. For information about and link to the first interview, scroll down to the heading “Once, The Only Live Cohen Interview During the 2008 Tour” []
  28. Like many of Cohen’s songs, poems, and anecdotes, there is an autobiographical basis for the “I took a lot of Prozac, … line. See Leonard Cohen’s List Of Pharmaceuticals Joke & His Not At All Funny Depression []
  29. Cohen had sporadically used similar variations previously but this became routine during this period. []
  30. Many of the images in the composite were adapted from photos found at LeonardCohenFiles. []
  31. The UK is counted as one country. []
  32. Cohen’s three-hour set masterpiece by Jeremy Miles. Daily Echo 12 November 2008 []
  33. Leonard Cohen at the Brighton Centre By Charlotte Taylor. Crawley Observer 22 December 2008 []
  34. Friday 14/11/08 Leonard Cohen @ The O2 Arena, London by Jon Bye. Gigwise. November 19, 2008 []
  35. All the videos in this post are set to begin just before the desired sequence. Unfortunately, I do not have a practical means by which to automatically stop the video before the end. The viewer can, of course, simply turn off the player at any point. To see some or all of the video that takes place before the automatic start, drag the indicator (the circular button on the bottom bar) to the left. []
  36. Note: The lyrics Cohen sings here are not the same as those heard on the recorded versions. Cohen has, however, frequently introduced new verses to this song. There is a discussion of this and some examples of previous changes in the lyrics as well as a general examination of Like A Bird On The Wire at Like A Flock Of Birds On The Wire []
  37. Alternative Views

    If the above gallery of photos does not behave well on your computer (although it worked well when I tested it, it is a new gizmo, so …), try one of these views of the same shots:

LeonardCohenSearch is managed by Allan Showalter, AKA DrHGuy