Tour Reviews and Other Memories from
LEONARD COHEN WORLD TOUR Fall 2009

October 17, 2009
Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
Bank Atlantic Center

Set List for October 17
The Miami Herald review & photos
South Florida Sun-Sentinel review
Miami New Times review & photos
SPIN review & photos
Fan reports
Youtube


October 19, 2009
Tampa, Florida
Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center

Set List for October 19
The Tampa Tribune review & photo
Tampa Bay Times review
Creative Loafing review & photos
Youtube


October 20, 2009
Atlanta, Georgia
Fox Theatre

Set List for October 20
Paste Magazine review
Creative Loafing review & photos
The Times-Journal review
Birmingham Weekly review
Fan reports
Youtube


October 22, 2009
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Tower Theater

Set List for October 22
Youtube


October 23, 2009
New York City, New York
Madison Square Garden

Set List for October 23
Spinner review
Entertainment Weekly review
Brattleboro Reformer (Vermont) review
Youtube
Fan reports


Next
Cleveland, Ohio
Columbus, Ohio
Chicago, Illinois
Asheville, North Carolina
Durham, North Carolina
Nashville, Tennessee










Ft. Lauderdale, Florida

Set List - October 17, 2009

Per JSA on The Leonard Cohen Forum

First Set

Dance Me To The End Of Love
The Future
Ain't No Cure For Love
Bird On The Wire
Everybody Knows
In My Secret Life
Who By Fire
Hey, That's No Way To Say Goodbye
Waiting For The Miracle
Anthem

Second Set

Tower Of Song
Suzanne
Sisters Of Mercy
Gypsy Wife
The Partisan
Boogie Street
Hallelujah
I'm Your Man
A Thousand Kisses Deep (recitation)
Take This Waltz

Encores

So Long, Marianne
First We Take Manhattan
Famous Blue Raincoat
If It Be Your Will
Closing Time
I Tried to Leave You
Whither Thou Goest











Ft. Lauderdale, Florida

Review: Leonard Cohen's songs still resonate

The Miami Herald - October 18, 2009 by Jordan Levin (Photos: CANDACE WEST)

You could certainly call him old school, except that, even at 75, Leonard Cohen is in a class by himself: randy and religious, filled with deep irony and an equally profound sense of faith and wonder.

On Saturday night the poet, musical philosopher and perpetual enigma enthralled an audience that, while made up mostly of his white-haired contemporaries, included various younger generations of the pop-romantic-intellectual faithful, and he did so for three hours and four encores, miraculously turning the cold commercial cavern of the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise into a magical, transformative place.

It would take a book to tell Cohen's story: a true poet (before he ever wrote songs), composer of definitive '60s songs like Suzanne and Who By Fire, Zen monk, raconteur, ladies' man and man of faith. But what ultimately matters is the depth of experience he transmits from onstage.

"It's been 15 years since I've been on tour," he told the adoring audience Saturday. "I was 60, just a kid with a crazy dream... I've rigorously studied philosophy and religion, but cheerfulness kept breaking through."

A gaunt lounge lizard in black suit and black fedora over snow white hair, Cohen frequently dropped to his knees or skipped impishly offstage, with an apparent delight that leavened the often profound gravity of his music.

Cohen's voice is now a subterranean foghorn, but with a depth and timbre that makes up for its near monotone lack of range (unfortunately, given an irritating echo on the BankAtlantic Center's sound system). His terrific nine-piece band (which he acknowledged frequently and affectionately), also in black suits and headgear, embedded his songs in a rich, bordering on florid, soundscape: Dino Soldo on jazzy sax, harmonica and clarinet solos; Javier Mas with fluttering, emotional riffs on laud and 12-string guitar; Neil Larson on shimmery Hammond B3 organ; songwriting collaborator Sharon Robinson with Charley and Hattie Webb on soaring, gospelish back-up vocals; and others on bass, pedal steel and drums.

Ah, but the songs. Whether it's the power of Cohen's performance, or hearing them one after the other, they seemed almost endlessly layered with meaning. The romantic illusiveness of songs like Suzanne or Hey, That's No Way to Say Good-bye, which could have been mired in the mostly discredited '60s freedom's-just-another-word-for-nothing-left-to-lose philosophy, were tremendously poignant and evocative.

Cohen's persona is big enough to encompass frank sensuality -- "if you want a doctor I'll examine every precious inch of you," on I'm Your Man -- to the spiritual mystery of Who By Fire, modeled on a Jewish prayer from Yom Kippur, the Day of Repentance.

What radiated most powerfully was Cohen's sense of faith in forces beyond love or music that fill his life and his art.

"I ache in the places where I used to play," he sang in Tower of Song. "But I hear these tiny voices in the tower of song... you'll be hearing from me, baby, long after I'm gone." On Anthem he urges us, and probably himself, to "forget your perfect offering, there is a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in," advice that could be applied to life, faith or music-making. "I'll stand right here before the lord of song,'' Cohen offered in Hallelujah, ``with nothing on my tongue but hallelujah."

For Cohen and those who have found his music, that imperfect but full-hearted and full-minded offering has been enough for over 40 years.

  

  

  

  

  











Ft. Lauderdale, Florida

Leonard Cohen holds first-ever Florida concert in Sunrise

South Florida Sun-Sentinel - October 18, 2009 by Sean Piccoli

Singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen, 75, considered himself a retiree not long ago. He had not planned on the tour that has occupied the last two years of his life: It was a response to the discovery that he was broke, and by now it has probably met its financial goals, or at least lifted him out of poverty.

Add it up, and circumstances point to Cohen's first-ever concert in Florida -- about 40 years in the making -- also being his last. There was an undeniable sense of hello-and-goodbye to the old pop laureate's performance on Saturday night at BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise.

"I don't know when we'll pass this way again," he said early on, "so we're going to give you everything we've got."

What followed was a remarkable performance lasting more than three hours (intermission included), during which Cohen applied his droll personality and low-key grace to a life's worth of music.

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.

Cohen's voice had several uses on Saturday. It was a kind of low musical constant -- a steady undercurrent for compositions that ranged across folk, gospel, blues, cabaret, country-western and classical. It exerted a gravitational tug on the winding-staircase melodies of "Hallelujah" and "I'm Your Man," adding tension to both songs.

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's physical resiliency should be the envy of people half his age. Trim and wispy in a dark suit, buttoned shirt (no tie) and fedora, he trotted on and off stage looking like the Rat Pack's resident beat poet. What's more telling, though, is how well the songs hold up. It's not just trendiness that draws younger musicians to his catalogue for covers and inspiration.

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."

He created about as much intimacy as could be had in a converted hockey arena with several thousand empty seats. (A theater or performing arts center would have made more sense.)

He finished up by introducing his technical crew -- a gesture that usually accompanies closing night.

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.









Ft. Lauderdale, Florida

Concert Review: Leonard Cohen at BankAtlantic Center, October 17

Miami New Times - October 20, 2009 by John Hood (Photos: Sayre Berman)

Leonard Cohen
Saturday, October 17, 2009
BankAtlantic Center, Sunrise

Better Than: Any singer you've ever heard before.

Why the hell Leonard Cohen appeared at BankAtlantic Center rather than, say, The Fillmore Gleason is anybody's guess. But if he had staged at a theater on the Beach instead of in an arena up in Broward, his show would've been even more remarkable than it was. That's not to say there's anything wrong with the BankAtlantic Center - Bruce Springsteen, AC/DC and Foo Fighters, to name but a few, all perfectly hit the hot spot, and it's a cinch Kiss will do likewise this Thursday. But like I said, it's an arena. And Leonard Cohen is no arena act.

Cohen does though happen to have a voice that could fill the Grand Canyon, even at a whisper, so he had no problem reaching the rafters here. Cohen also is one of the all-time great entertainers, though somewhat understated, so there was nothing to complain about on that end either. It's just that Cohen's music is best served up close and personal, just as it was written - and just as he sings it. So he being in a large venue, even one as well-appointed as BankAtlantic, does kind of take something away from the proceedings. Other than that though, the only thing taken away during Saturday night's concert was my breath.

But catching Leonard Cohen live, anywhere, could take away the breath of even the numbest among us. In fact, anybody with even an iota of feeling in their bones will gasp from the first moment his voice booms over, into, under and through the room. Imagine having sound not only tell the story of your life, but read everything about you, and you'll have some idea of its effect. Picture a merging of the deep of the blue sea and the high of the moon and you'll have some notion of its breadth.

Of course that voice of his wouldn't render half as heavenly is it weren't in the service of some of music's most celebrated songs, and there Cohen's got a lock on things. Then again if you had a catalog that included such classics as "Suzanne," "Bird on a Wire," "Hallelujah," "Everybody Knows" and "I'm Your Man," you'd have a lock on things too. Cohen performed each of the above, as well as "Dance Me to the End of Love" (the set opener), "Anthem" (a particular favorite), "In My Secret Life" (a track fit for Bryan Ferry) and "First We Take Manhattan" (one of several encores), among many others. And the master even took time out to recite the chilling "A Thousand Kisses Deep," a poignant reminder that his "Tower of Song" was built syllable by syllable.

Mostly though Cohen came and wowed us, with a grace and a charm few can fathom in this day and age of brash and bombast, and witnessing the event made for one unforgettable evening. There are few class acts in the world today, so any time one alights in our neck of the state it is cause for celebration. Yes, Leonard Cohen may have been better served had he staged at a smaller venue. But he was here. And for that we've no choice but to be utterly thankful.

Critic's Notebook

Personal Bias: I've been a fan of the man since my first New York City girl turned me on to him way back in the late '80s.

Random Detail: Cohen often knelt to the ground in order to better bring his songs up from his soul, and each kneeling had the feel of righteous supplication.

By the Way: If by chance you missed the show - or if you'd like to relive it - Cohen's Live in London pretty much covers all the same ground, albeit somewhat differently.

  

  

  

  

  

  









Ft. Lauderdale, Florida

Leonard Cohen Launches U.S. Tour

SPIN - October 19, 2009 by John Hood (Photos: Ian Witlen)

The Gentleman Monk wows a packed South Florida arena with an emotionally moving three-hour concert.

There's a pivotal scene in Walk the Line when Sun records founder Sam Phillips dares Johnny Cash to sing one song that people would always remember, one that "would let God know how [he] felt about [his] time here on Earth." But what if Phillips dared Cash to sing 10 or even 12? There are few singer/songwriters in the history of music that could pull off such a feat -- and among those few is Leonard Cohen.

Cohen's remarkable songs have been covered by everyone from Nina Simone to the Pixies to Johnny Cash himself. And Saturday night at the kickoff of Cohen's U.S. tour at Ft. Lauderdale, FL's BankAtlantic Center, he showed a crowd of thousands just how moving those songs can be live.

Cohen's back on the road with a 15-date nationwide outing, following the 75-year-old's grand return concert in New York last winter after a 15-year absence.

Over three hours and four encores, Cohen took his deep, blue baritone to a depth rarely heard. On "Everybody Knows" he sang about admissions and sins; On "Anthem" he crooned about the duality of there being a "crack in everything" -- a crack that sometimes lets light in. There's the lullaby-esque ballad "Sister of Mercy"; the rising vocals of "Suzanne"; the sinister whispers about being crazy for love on "Tower of Song"; and the hymnal that is "Hallelujah," which had Cohen holding his hat over his heart and singing to the audience like an old traveling preacher.

Live, Cohen is the consummate gentleman, effortlessly gracious and impeccably mannered. And from the first syllable of "Dance Me to the End of Love" to the last consonant of "First We Take Manhattan," everyone was treated with complete respect. He even kneeled before the audience on numerous occasions, as if begging for their acceptance.

Cohen was just as gracious to his nine-piece band, from the fedora-topped multi-instrumentalists to the cartwheeling back-up singers, and he twice took time out to introduce them and emphasize how important he considered their participation. It will be tough to forget the name of Barcelona-based guitarist Javier Mas, whose fluttering riffs on tracks like "Who By Fire" were a highlight.

Perhaps the most remarkable point about Cohen is how he seduces the truth in his music and life, something he chased for the past five years as a student at the Zen Buddhist centre in California. He digs up our deepest emotions, as if he was born to do it all along.

Forget the notion of singing one song that people would remember. Instead, think of the men whose musical catalogues people will remember long after those stage lights go dim. Leonard Cohen is one of those men.

















Ft. Lauderdale, Florida

Blogs and Other Fan Reports

Blog - "Mood Vane" - "Last Weekend: Big Concerts And The End Of, Or At Least An Interruption Of, An Era of Local Live Music"
...The 75-year-old singer/songwriter/novelist/poet/monk was exactly what every artist could ever want, but most could never hope, to be: while exhibiting musical and linguistic talents well beyond the scope and scale of what any mortal could ever pine and pray for, he was humble and generous with the audience, exuding gratitude and hopes that none of his new South Floridian friends would get sick from the sudden weather change — which occurred during his concert! Worship him!


Blog - "Full. Body. Transplant." - "Leonard Cohen Saves."
It was the best musical performance I have ever seen in my life. I still have tears in my eyes...


Blog - "EYE ON MIAMI" - "Leonard Cohen: An Acquired Taste. By Geniusofdespair"
When he sang Suzanne it was awesome knowing that the composer was actually singing my favorite song. I was so transported, I realized I knew all the words. Yes, I was one of those annoying people who sang along at a concert. I swear I never did that before...


Discuss the tour and read fan reviews on The Leonard Cohen Forum and in French on the Leonard Cohen Forum (French site).












Tampa, Florida

Set List - October 19, 2009

Per Leilani Polk at Creative Loafing and lizzytysh on The Leonard Cohen Files

First Set

Dance Me To The End Of Love
The Future
Ain't No Cure For Love
Bird On The Wire
Everybody Knows
In My Secret Life
Who By Fire
Chelsea Hotel
Waiting For The Miracle
Anthem

Second Set

Tower Of Song
Suzanne
Sisters Of Mercy
Gypsy Wife
The Partisan
Boogie Street
Hallelujah
I'm Your Man
A Thousand Kisses Deep (recitation)
Take This Waltz

Encores

So Long, Marianne
First We Take Manhattan
Famous Blue Raincoat
If It Be Your Will
Closing Time
I Tried to Leave You
Whither Thou Goest











Tampa, Florida

Sold-out Tampa crowd sees Leonard Cohen command stage

The Tampa Tribune - October 20, 2009 by Curtis Ross (Photo: CHRIS URSO)

TAMPA - With his trim dark suit and a fedora pulled low over his eyes, Leonard Cohen looked less like a poet and singer-songwriter Monday night and more like a veteran song-and-dance man working the boards.

But what song-and-dance man ever entertained us with such terrible truths:

"Everybody knows the war is over/Everybody knows the good guys lost."

"I've seen the future, brother, it is murder."

Maybe it was for Cohen, whose literary and recording careers scream "Art" with a capital "A," to acknowledge that the poet is an entertainer, too.

The 75-year-old Cohen fulfilled both roles admirably Monday night at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center's Carol Morsani Hall before a sold-out crowd of 2,590.

(The show, originally scheduled for the St. Pete Times Forum, began while several long lines of patrons still were waiting to get their tickets at will-call windows.)

The show closely followed the one captured on this year's "Live in London" album, even down to the stage patter, with some changes.

But the similarities made sense given the subtle theatrics of the show, particularly the way the recitation of "A Thousand Kisses Deep" served as the pre-encore climax.

For a performer who has never troubled the top 40, it was amazing to recall how many of his tunes are familiar to even the casual fan, either through his own versions, remakes by other artists or their use in films and television.

"Hallelujah" is the most obvious of these, remade by Jeff Buckley, appearing on the "Shrek" soundtrack, even turning up in the repertoire of an "American Idol" hopeful. Cohen and his excellent band played the song as gospel-soul, stripping away the hymnal qualities of Buckley's version.

"The Future" and "Everybody Knows" formed a dystopian tag-team early in the first set, leavened by Cohen's mordant humor. He began "Bird on a Wire" on his knees, possibly to emphasize the song's prayerlike quality, or possibly just to show that his 75-year-old joints still are limber.

The second set began with "Tower of Song," one of Cohen's funniest numbers. The line "I was born with the gift of a golden voice" never fails to get a laugh.

Cohen always has used his limited voice to his advantage, and it's attained even more gravity over the years. His low notes Monday night ventured into didgeridoo territory.

A lengthy set of encores covered most of the remaining bases, including "Famous Blue Raincoat" and "First We Take Manhattan," finally closing with "Whither Thou Goest."

Cohen's excellent band featured his sometimes songwriting partner Sharon Robinson, along with the Webb Sisters, on background vocals; Roscoe Beck on bass; Neil Larsen on keyboards; Bob Metzger on guitar; Javier Mas on a variety of stringed instruments including badurria and laud; Rafael Gayol on drums; and Dino Soldo on woodwinds.









Tampa, Florida

Review: Crowds pack in for Leonard Cohen's majestic Tampa debut

Tampa Bay Times - October 20, 2009 by Julie Garisto

Leonard Cohen performed his first concert in Tampa Monday night at the prim-and-proper Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center. What a surreal night.

The historic sold-out event started with a weird box office ruckus and ended with a five-song encore, affirming Cohen as a living legend. The ruckus: Concert-goers arriving up to 45 minutes before show time were forced to wait in agonizingly slow will call lines 50 people deep and missed the beginning of the concert, which started on time. Only a few employees were on hand to accommodate hundreds of attendees picking up their tickets. People shouted in complaint, occasionally at each other. One man joked, "It’s the St. Pete City Council meeting all over again," referring to a recent tussle between senior citizens at a public meeting in St. Petersburg. Cohen’s three-hour performance more than made up for any initial stress, making the 2,590 oldsters and hipsters in the audience happy. At 75, the lithe French Canadian tuckered out 25- and 35-year-old working stiffs in the audience, practically threatening Springsteen's position as the Boss of epic concert endurance. Wearing his signature suit and fedora – everyone on stage was dressed in smart, quasi-ragtime attire, even the stagehands – Cohen’s performance style went from understated to regal to childlike and animated, swaying back and forth, buckling and kneeling as if overwhelmed by the weight of his words (or conserving energy). Cohen intensely expressed the aching and tender emotion of his lyrics, words about love, loss and redemption. During his encores, he skipped off the stage like a mischievous gypsy. He recited poignant words from his poetry, such as A Thousand Kisses Deep. The concert, split by a 15-minute intermission, offered Cohen classics during both acts. He sang Bird on the Wire during the first half and strapped on a black acoustic for the second half, performing a lovely stripped-down version of Suzanne. For Hallelujah, silver lights bathed the backdrop in a silver heavenly glow – the lighting was indeed a star of the show, as was the crisp and perfect sound.

Cohen’s band featured his "collaborator" of later hits and vocalist extraordinaire, Sharon Robinson and the Webb Sisters (background vocals), Roscoe Beck (musical director and bass), Rafael Gayol (drums, percussion), and Dino Soldo (sax, clarinet, dobro, keys), Sarasota-area homeboy Neil Larsen (keyboards, accordion and Hammond B3 accordion), Bob Metzger (electric, acoustic and pedal steel guitar) and Javier Mas (bandurria, laud, archilaud, 12-string acoustic guitar). The supporting players got more than average due attention from the headliner, with each getting not one but two introductions and several long solos in the spotlight. Cohen reverently tipped his fedora and bowed to each player and singer throughout the show. Guitarist Mas added mandolin-style arpeggios with a 12-string acoustic, and, heck, he even played the mandolin, accenting Cohen’s European folk influences. Mas played a handful of engaging solos, one during Famous Blue Raincoat, which brilliantly enhanced and didn’t overpower the fragile beauty of the song. Sometimes all that talent was almost too much of a good thing – high-gloss meets high class, like we weren’t watching Leonard Cohen in concert but Leonard Cohen in Concert: the Musical! (or some similar Broadway-ish title with an exclamation point). Cohen’s earnest grovel-voiced delivery and modest affections brought it all down to earth. Hallelujah.









Tampa, Florida

Concert review: Leonard Cohen at Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center

Creative Loafing - October 20, 2009 by Leilani Polk (Photos: Sam Goresh)

Will she cry, or won’t she? Will she cry, or won’t she?

That was the third-person sentence running ’round and ’round my head, referencing myself, as I made my way through the hefty crowd of Leonard Cohen fans who’d come to see the grandmaster of songwriting play Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center this past Monday, October 19.

I tend to get sentimental when it comes to music anyway, and my husband had just left town for a month-long journey across America to shoot his Routes Music documentary, so I was feeling rather blue. This was one of the few concerts I’d attended without my other half since we met more than eight years ago, and considering that he was the one who turned me onto Leonard, I wasn’t sure how the music would hit me.

But the longtime troubadour allowed me no opportunity to dwell on my loneliness and managed to lift me up from the gloom in my heart, even making me laugh at various points in the evening.

Debonair as always in his grey pinstripe suit and matching fedora, the 75-year-old held the audience mesmerized with his deep breathy baritone and occasional witty stage banter. He sang against his rootsy, jazz-flavored, gospel-tinged folk rock with his hand alternately cupped around his face or around his mic, at times bending into a crouch to deliver his lyrics from the floor with his trademark self-possessed passion.

But the show wasn’t all about Leonard and it was the man himself who made it that way. He paid much due to his talented bunch of instrumentalists and vocalists all throughout the show, and made it abundantly clear that they were more than simply hired hands, removing his hat and formally bowing to one or a few of them at the end of each number in respectful acknowledgment of their talents, and offering a unique introduction to every one at the end of both sets: musical director/producer/bassist Roscoe Beck (“the shepherd of our ensemble”) on his signature Fender and upright bass, “legendary innovator” Neil Larsen on keys and B3 organ, the “irreplaceable” Bob Metzger on lapsteel, acoustic and electric guitars, multi-string player Javier Mas on badurria, laúd, archilaud and 12-string guitar, “maestro of breath” Dino Soldo on keys and various wind instruments (clarinet, saxophone, harmonica), drummer/percussionist Rafael Gayol “timekeeper and Prince of Precision,” and the backup singers – vocal and composition collaborator Sharon Robinson, and vocalist/string-playing sisters, Hatty and Charlotte Webb.

The trio’s lovely soprano harmonies complemented Leonard’s low tone well and at a few points during the show, Leonard stepped completely out of the spotlight to give them the stage on two of his numbers – Robinson riding solo with her shredded velvet vox, and the Webb sisters doing a dulcet-toned duet with harp and acoustic guitar that was so pure and sweet it hurt my heart. My friend described them as Cohencrouch“pixies from a music box” afterwards and he was dead on.

Along with his band-leading capabilities, I gained a new appreciation for Leonard’s way with words. Yeah, I know – he’s known for it. But I always took his keen literary sense for granted and certain lyrics jumped out at me at various points and begged to be recognized: “You came to me this morning / And you handled me like meat / You’d have to live alone to know / How good that feels, how sweet” (from “A Thousand Kisses”); “I don’t mean to suggest that I loved you the best / I can’t keep track of each fallen robin / I remember you well in the Chelsea Hotel — that’s all, I don’t even think of you that often” (“Chelsea Hotel”); “The Maestro says it’s Mozart but it sounds like bubble gum / when you’re waiting for the miracle, for the miracle to come” (“Waiting for the Miracle); “I ache in places I used to play” and “I was born with the gift of a golden voice” (both from “Tower of Song,” the latter verse earning cheers from the audience); and “I’ll wear an old man’s mask” (the now-ironic lyric from “I’ll Be Your Man”).

Leonard culled numbers from 1967’s Songs of Leonard Cohen through 2001’s Ten New Songs, frolicking on and off the stage with boyish energy before and after each set, and generally seeming to have a fabulous time. “I don’t know when we’ll pass this way again, so our intention is to bring you everything we got tonight,” Leonard promised when he opened the show, and he most definitely lived up to his word. By the end of the nearly three-hour concert — which featured a drawn-out encore complete with its own breaks — I was exhausted and content.













Atlanta, Georgia

Set List - October 20, 2009

Per goaskaliceok and courtney on The Leonard Cohen Files

First Set

Dance Me To The End Of Love
The Future
Ain't No Cure For Love
Bird On The Wire
Everybody Knows
In My Secret Life
Who By Fire
Chelsea Hotel
Waiting For The Miracle
Anthem

Second Set

Tower Of Song
Suzanne
Sisters Of Mercy
Gypsy Wife
The Partisan
Boogie Street
Hallelujah
I'm Your Man
A Thousand Kisses Deep (recitation)
Take This Waltz

Encores

So Long, Marianne
First We Take Manhattan
Famous Blue Raincoat
If It Be Your Will
Closing Time
I Tried to Leave You











Atlanta, Georgia

Leonard Cohen Live (Awesome of the Day)

Paste Magazine - October 21, 2009 by Josh Jackson

Who’s the Boss? Seventy-five-year-old Leonard Cohen did everything he could to steal Bruce Springsteen’s moniker last night at Atlanta’s Fox Theatre, playing for over three hours, skipping on and off the stage and dropping to his knees whenever a song reached an emotional climax. It’s a good thing, too, with ticket prices topping $200 for a rare performance from the Sixth Best Living Songwriter. More than I can remember at a concert, I hung on every lyric, and the spoken-word pieces were as good as the songs. When a guy writes lines like, “There is a crack in everything / That’s how the light gets in,” you pay attention to whatever is going to come next.

The whole band was phenomenal. They went into intermission with “Anthem” and came back for hits like “Suzanne,” “I’m Your Man” and “Hallelujah.” This is starting to sound like a cliché, but my favorite piece of recorded music is Jeff Buckley’s cover of “Hallelujah.” Having never seen Buckley live, I can’t imagine it would have been any more satisfying than hearing the guy who wrote it...









Atlanta, Georgia

Leonard Cohen at the Fox

Creative Loafing - October 21, 2009 by Besha Rodell (Photos: Perry Julian)

When Leonard Cohen took the stage last night at the Fox Theater, beaming the most heartfelt and humble smile, hat in hand, I thought to myself, ‘Can this really be the filthy bastard who wrote Beautiful Losers?’ But by the second song, “The Future,” it was clear as he sang in his low, soul-permeating voice, “It’s lonely here, there’s no one left to torture,” that yes, this is the artist who’s known for his ability to capture the sacred and the profane in the same, heart-stopping lyric. Three hours later, the crowd rapturous and worn out from jumping to their feet after every song and in order to bring Cohen back to the stage for yet another encore (five in all?), it was impossible to leave wanting — rarely have I seen a show so broad in its sweep of an artist’s material. Backed by a 9-piece band, Cohen gave an incredibly generous performance, singing almost every one of his greatest and best-known songs – “Suzanne,” “Bird on a Wire,” “Hallelujah,” “Chelsea Hotel,” “Anthem,” “Everybody Knows,” “I’m Your Man,” “Sisters of Mercy,” “First we Take Manhattan,” “Ain’t No Cure For Love,” and on and on. With his left hand raised to the side of his face in a gesture of bracing intensity, or on his knees and sometimes with his hand on his heart, it was striking how much the material still affects Cohen. This music obviously means as much to him as it does to us. And over the course of the evening, it became slightly overwhelming to realize how much of our poetic subconscious, spilled out throughout these songs, comes from this one man. Early in the set, Cohen said that he didn’t know when he might be passing though again, but that he promised to give us his best tonight. Dark, humble, irreverent, playful, and outrageously beautiful, he certainly delivered on that promise. He was our man.

  

  

  










Atlanta, Georgia

Cohen's musical influence important

The Times-Journal (Alabama) - October 26, 2009 by Mark Harrison

Déjà vu. I wrote a column similar to this in 2006, about Joan Baez.

Being a longtime lover of folk music, it was impossible to turn down an opportunity last week to see Leonard Cohen in concert at the Fox Theater in Atlanta. I’ve been a fan of Cohen since my college days.

In Cohen’s case, he’s more than a musician. He’s a poet, a novelist, a mystic and a monk, among other things. Still, when I told people I was going to see Cohen perform, I found many had either never heard of him at all, or had only some vague notion of him.

At 75 years old, the Canadian-born Cohen has had a tremendous – if slightly unrealized – impact on music and culture. Lou Reed once described Cohen as belonging to the “highest and most influential echelon of songwriters.”

Cohen’s immediately recognizable voice and deeply complex songs have slipped, over time, into the collective subconscious of the mainstream. His songs have often become huge hits for other artists like Judy Collins (“Suzanne”), Johnny Cash (“Bird on a Wire”) and Jeff Buckley (“Hallelujah”).

With a deep, gravely voice that seems somehow a mix of sandpaper and silk, his music – though ultimately hopeful –has a dangerously dark romantic vibe and a strong spiritual subtext. It’s the sort of stuff that can take you places you don’t necessarily want to go, to places you didn’t know music could take you. To hear that sort of music performed live is an almost indescribable experience.

I never expected to have that opportunity. Cohen had all but retired from performing, and virtually withdrawn from music until recent years, when an alleged misappropriation of some $5 million of Cohen’s retirement funds by a longtime manager forced him back to the stage. Cohen’s loss was ultimately our gain.

“I don’t know when we’ll be passing through here again,” he told the sold out crowd. “So I want to tell you that it is our intention to give you everything we’ve got tonight.” No empty promise, that - backed by an incredible folk-rock jazz band of tight, world-class musicians and angelic backup singers – a sprightly Cohen literally ran onto the stage and, with profound reverence for both his band and the audience, and performed for three hours.

Perhaps my concert companion described it best. “It was not a concert,” she said. “Rather, a spiritual experience.”









Atlanta, Georgia

The unfettered Leonard Cohen

Birmingham Weekly - October 29, 2009 by Courtney Haden

Now that I ponder, I don’t remember exactly when I stopped writing concert reviews. Certainly I have loaded the landfill of popular culture with more than my share of such, but time is revealing them to have been biodegradable.

Back in that day, a concert review was a primo piece of creative writing, or so the author thought. Flush with sensory overload, he would fire off full clips of syllables at elusive evaluation, hopeful of flushing a covey of insights from their lair in his subconsciousness.

Sentences like that one usually happened instead.

The concert review of the present day necessarily suffers by comparison to the past because the form has stuck around so long. Ask a baseball writer how tough it is to come up with a new angle on covering the great American pastime. He’ll tell you there are plenty of outstanding players out there, but not many ways to extol them that haven’t been used before or to better effect. It is the same with the business of show, except that there are a lot more good minor league franchises operating there.

Ordinarily I would not trouble you with another performance memoir. The problem is, I cannot stop thinking about a show I saw the other night. Leonard Cohen played the Fox Theatre in Atlanta and the recollection will not leave me be.

Most of you know Leonard Cohen only by association, if at all. A published poet who started singing for a living in 1966 despite a famously limited vocal range, he has written marvelous songs that only rarely became big chart hits for their interpreters; “Bird on the Wire” for Joe Cocker, “Hallelujah” for Jeff Buckley, “Suzanne” for… Noel Harrison. Despite tangible fame, he seems always to have been on the scene, save a stretch in the Nineties when he threw it all away and entered a Zen monastery, taking the Buddhist name Silence.

Cohen has performed only occasionally in the U.S. during his career (he is a far bigger draw in Europe) and was drawn into his current two-year global tour only because his personal manager looted his retirement fund while Cohen sought Enlightenment at Mount Baldy. Despite infrequent tours, Cohen has consistently made time for Atlanta, having appeared there in 1975, 1988 and 1993.

I caught him at the Great Southeast Music Hall in ’75; I’m sure I wrote a glowing review for somebody. I recall he began with “Bird on a Wire” and stayed close to that tempo all night. I found his deliberate exposition of his songs ideally suited to the compositions as well as to my demeanor. I remember it was a long drive back through the speed traps on old Highway 78.

In 2009, I didn’t know quite what to expect. Walking into the Fox, I thought I’d suddenly contracted glaucoma, so translucent was the air. It wasn’t smoke, as in the old days, but something the producers pumped into the room, perhaps to confound Flip cams, perhaps to evoke the presence of ghosts. The crew was tight; the ushers operated under symphony rules, instructed to seat no one after the show commenced until a third-song break.

Promptly at eight, the entertainers strode onstage, and in a bubble of light the poet doffed his hat to the crowd, looking like the clothing store owner his father once was. Cohen was thin and gray and poised for some sort of action.

“Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin,” he crooned from the center of the stage. “Dance me through the panic till I’m safely gathered in. Lift me like an olive branch and be my homeward dove, dance me to the end of love.” Here Cohen mixed the ingredients for the evening: a jigger of desire, a dash of bitterness, a sprinkle of amusement, served straight up. Was this music for a wedding or a wake? The poet was dressed for either. “I assure you it is our intention to give you everything we’ve got tonight,” he told the standing throng at the end of the tune.

He spoke in the plural, for the presentation was a thoroughly collaborative effort. The stage was anchored left and right by yin and yang; Javier Mas and Dino Soldo on libidinous stringed instruments and woodwinds, the Webb Sisters, Hattie and Charlie on ethereal harmonies. Cohen was surrounded by instrumental excellence, with a rhythm section of Roscoe Beck and Rafael Gayol, cool licks from guitarist Bob Metzger and organist Neil Larsen, plus the soulful contributions of vocalist Sharon Robinson. They drew no undue attention to themselves — well, Hattie and Charlie did turn cartwheels during “The Future” — but served the needs of the songs in a manner reminiscent of far more famous ensembles. Add to this virtuosity the fact that the music was mixed perfectly for the room, at exactly the right volume for songs dependent on lyrical clarity, and we approached concert perfection.

Here is what transformed the night: Cohen was unfettered. I don’t know if the rousing success of this tour so close to the end of life cheered him, whether the years at Mount Baldy had indeed endowed him with enlightenment, or if it was just that the old roué was still getting the eye from beautiful women, but he was no longer chained to the weight of his songs. He dropped to his knees in supplication, he raised his hands to the heavens, he danced around the stage and skipped off — skipped! — when it was time for a break. He imbued every lyric with purpose and shook the foundations of the theatre with his unmistakable baritone.

Last year, I questioned the wisdom of inducting a Canadian folkie into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. After witnessing three transcendent hours of cabaret from the hereafter, I think I get it now. They already had all the rock they could use. They needed Leonard Cohen for the roll.









Atlanta, Georgia

Blogs and Other Fan Reports

Blog - "Access Atlanta" - "Publik Social House a good pre-stop nibble for Fox shows"
The Canadian songwriter, poet and novelist performed last night at the Fox Theater and pretty much blew every audience member’s mind. At 75, Cohen was remarkably nimble, and his great, deep voice was in full form. So were his stellar band members. By the time he and the Webb Sisters performed “If It Be Your Will” in what I think was his third encore — there were so many I can’t remember — I was weeping uncontrollably...


Blog - "Inside The Perimeter" - "I Want To Grow Up To Be Leonard Cohen"
I thought that the show was phenomenal!...


Discuss the tour and read fan reviews on The Leonard Cohen Forum and in French on the Leonard Cohen Forum (French site).












Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Set List - October 22, 2009

Per sturgess66 on The Leonard Cohen Files

First Set

Dance Me To The End Of Love
The Future
Ain't No Cure For Love
Bird On The Wire
Everybody Knows
In My Secret Life
Who By Fire
Chelsea Hotel
Waiting For The Miracle
The Flood (recitation)
Anthem

Second Set

Tower Of Song
Suzanne
Sisters Of Mercy
Gypsy Wife
The Partisan
Boogie Street
Hallelujah
I'm Your Man
A Thousand Kisses Deep (recitation)
Take This Waltz

Encores

So Long, Marianne
First We Take Manhattan
Famous Blue Raincoat
If It Be Your Will
Closing Time
I Tried to Leave You











New York City, New York

Set List - October 23, 2009

Per sue7 and Jacquelyn on The Leonard Cohen Files

First Set

Dance Me To The End Of Love
The Future
Ain't No Cure For Love
Bird On The Wire
Everybody Knows
In My Secret Life
Who By Fire
Chelsea Hotel
Waiting For The Miracle
The Flood (recitation)
Anthem

Second Set

Tower Of Song
Suzanne
Sisters Of Mercy
Gypsy Wife
The Partisan
Boogie Street
Hallelujah
I'm Your Man
A Thousand Kisses Deep (recitation)
Take This Waltz

Encores

So Long, Marianne
First We Take Manhattan
Famous Blue Raincoat
If It Be Your Will
Closing Time
I Tried to Leave You











New York City, New York

Leonard Cohen Hints at Retirement at Sold-Out New York Show

Spinner - October 24, 2009 by Michael D. Ayers

As Leonard Cohen's comeback tour chugs through its final phase of 2009, at Friday night's Madison Square Garden show the singer alluded to the fact that this could be it for him and New York -- and maybe elsewhere, too. He's already played New York a handful of times this year, starting off at the Beacon Theater in February, then graduating to Radio City Music Hall for two nights in May. So last night's sold-out show, which offered him numerous standing ovations, was something of a victory lap that most cities haven't witnessed this year.

Before starting up a slower than usual sounding version of "Bird on a Wire," he took time out of the evening's first set to welcome the crowd, but for fans, the words might have sounded a little ominous.

"I don't know if we'll pass this way again," Cohen said, "but it's our intention to give you the best."

Indeed, the nearly two-and-a-half-hour show was filled with Cohen classics such as "So Long, Marianne," "Everybody Knows," "Sisters Of Mercy," and a particularly soulful version of "Hallelujah," with Cohen purposefully falling to his knees several times to deliver his most famous lines in his deep, husky voice. New York centric songs "Chelsea Hotel #2" and "First We Take Manhattan" appropriately resonated, maybe more so after the realization that this could be the last time they're played in Gotham.

Even when he pulled out songs that were a bit more obscure, such as "A Thousand Kisses Deep" from 2001's 'Ten New Songs,' the crowd couldn't help being captivated with the opening line, "You came to me this morning and handled me like meat." Cohen's always been regarded as a master poet and storyteller, and this was just another example of how even in his later career, Cohen's words and delivery is still as engrossing as his four-decade-old songs.

Leonard Cohen's tour continues west through November 13, finishing at San Jose's HP Pavilion.









New York City, New York

Leonard Cohen at Madison Square Garden: The master at 75

Entertainment Weekly - October 24, 2009 by Simon Vozick-Levinson

Last night, about a month after his 75th birthday, Leonard Cohen packed NYC’s Madison Square Garden to the rafters. Earlier in the week, he’d released Live at the Isle of Wight 1970, a CD/DVD package documenting a festival set he played when he was just shy of 36. And here’s the thing: Ask me which of the two performances was more compelling, more full of life, more can’t-look-away transcendent, and…I’ll have to get back to you on that.

Sure, Cohen had a certain bright-burning intensity 39 years ago. He waited til after 2 A.M. to go on stage in 1970, which I imagine he wouldn’t be as happy to do today. His voice could hit a few more high notes back then. But that’s about all the obvious advantage that young Cohen has over old Cohen.

“I don’t know when we’ll be passing through here again,” he told the Madison Square Garden crowd early in last night’s set. “So I want to tell you that it is our intention to give you everything we’ve got tonight.” Leonard Cohen does not make empty promises. Backed by a tight folk-rock-jazz band of mostly gray-haired virtuosos, plus three otherworldly backup singers (including frequent collaborator Sharon Robinson), he played for nearly three hours. Cohen hit the major peaks in his catalog along the way: “Suzanne,” “So Long, Marianne,” “Bird on the Wire,” “Famous Blue Raincoat,” “Chelsea Hotel #2,” “Hallelujah” (earning a standing ovation), “I’m Your Man,” “First We Take Manhattan” (of course), “Everybody Knows,” “The Future,” “Anthem,” to name just a few utter classics.

His voice today — deeper, wiser, more gravelly even than in his deep, wise, gravelly youth — imparts something to those songs that they were always meant to have, as several critics have noted in recent months. Cohen himself cuts a dashing figure as he kneels, bows, and dances lightly on and off the stage in his sharp suit and hat. He remains every bit the winking showman, laughing drily mid-song at his own lascivious punchlines. Most of all, Leonard Cohen is grateful to be performing arena concerts in 2009. He told us as much, thanking us during one of several encores “for keeping my songs alive all these years.” He’s the one who deserves our thanks, of course.









New York City, New York

The church of Leonard Cohen

Brattleboro Reformer (Vermont) - October 29, 2009 by Joyce Marcel

As Leonard Cohen says in "Anthem," "Ring the bells that still can ring/Forget your perfect offering/There is a crack, a crack in everything/That's how the light gets in."

No one can mix spirituality and sex better than Cohen, which may be the reason why his popularity has endured -- and will continue to do so, seemingly forever.

For the most part, the great musicians who ruled back in Cohen's day (and mine), no longer seem quite as relevant as they once did.

Play the Weavers today and you will cringe. I felt a sense of great loss when Mary Travers died a few months ago, but I'm not playing much Peter, Paul and Mary these days. Of course, Bob Dylan's early music is eternal, the voice of a generation -- my generation. But crazy fame drove him crazy, too. So what did he just release? Yes, a CD of Christmas songs.

Pete Seeger may be the conscience of our age, but as a musician? Not so great. Another great political conscience, Joan Baez, can't sing the way she once did. And while her early music still holds up, Joni Mitchell deliberately drowned herself in jazz; today she's just out-and-out scary.

Rock has had more staying power -- the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Kinks, the Who, Led Zeppelin -- their work still resonates and influences. But even the bands who are left to tour -- like the Who and the Stones -- have turned themselves into their own cover bands. And they led us to Kiss, Motley Crue and Bon Jovi, so there's some blame there.

I can count on one hand the musicians still playing today who can dominate my consciousness: these include Neil Young, Richard Thompson and, yes, Cohen, who, at 75 (two years older than John McCain!) is, in my humble opinion, the sexiest man alive.

Last weekend, I was lucky to be at Cohen's Madison Square Garden concert in New York. He turned the Garden into a church and the concert into a spiritual experience.

Cohen is a poet, a singer, a songwriter, a lover and a spiritual seeker. He is the grandson of a revered rabbi and of another who was a founder of Montreal's Jewish community. In his song "The Future," he describes himself this way: "Oh, I am the little Jew who wrote the Bible."

Talking about his Jewish faith, Cohen, who is devout, said in an interview, "At our best we inhabit a biblical landscape... (It) is our urgent invitation and we have to be there.

Otherwise, it's really not worth saving or manifesting, or redeeming, or anything. Now, what is the biblical landscape? It's the victory of experience. That's what the Bible celebrates. So the experience of these things is absolutely necessary." (The First Convenant Foundation: www.rainbowcovenant.org/pages/LeonardCohen.htm)

Cohen may have a deep Jewish sensibility, but he is also fluent in the use of Christian imagery. Just think of his 1967 hit, "Suzanne," which is ostensibly a love song but includes these lines: "And Jesus was a sailor/When he walked upon the water/And he spent a long time watching/From his lonely wooden tower/And when he knew for certain/Only drowning men could see him/He said ‘All men will be sailors then/Until the sea shall free them'/But he himself was broken/Long before the sky would open/Forsaken, almost human/He sank beneath your wisdom like a stone."

Cohen has also put in serious time -- five years of it -- as a Zen Buddhist monk. In fact, he was meditating on a California mountain top with his teacher while his manager stole all his money -- hence the reason he is touring now.

In the end, as I'm sure he recognizes, losing his money was a great gain as well as a loss. He started toured in 2008 by playing small venues, but his audience turned out to be anything but small. Now he's gone around the world with a superb nine-piece group of musicians. He's released a concert DVD and a two-disc CD. And last Friday night, he packed the Garden, which holds over 19,000 people.

"I don't know when we'll be passing through here again," he told us. "So I want to tell you that it is our intention to give you everything we've got tonight." And so he did.

He started most of his songs kneeling and ended them with his eyes closed and his face upturned as if singing to the heavens. He sang for over three hours. He gave his remarkable band all the room in the world to shine as individuals as well as a group. He received several standing ovations, including one for "Hallelujah."

He was reverent, but he was also risqué; when, in "I'm Your Man," he offered to wear a mask for his lover, he made it, with a leer, "an old man's mask." Not so much, old man. Between encores, he skipped impishly off the stage, his fingers waving at the end of his skinny wrists.

At the end of the concert, he humbly thanked us all "for keeping my songs alive all these years."

That Cohen could create a living church inside a money-hungry sports palace like the Garden was a surprise. That his concerts have become spiritual experiences is not; his poetry and music have been holy all along. If the Bible truly celebrates the victory of experience, Cohen had it right long ago when he told us in "The Future," "I've seen the nations rise and fall/I've heard their stories, heard them all/But love's the only engine of survival."









New York City, New York

Blogs and Other Fan Reports

Blog - "digital heroine" - "Leonard Cohen last Friday"
...he promised for himself and his impecable band to "give it all we've got". Needless to say, they profoundly delivered a phenomenal performance...


Blog - "EARVOLUTION" - "Monday's Earful: Leonard Cohen @ Madison Square Garden"
...For one night, MSG took on all the qualities of an intimate Broadway show. While Cohen sang, he didn’t battle banal self-involved chatter. When he spoke, nary a peep could be heard from the crowd who hung on every sepia-toned word that dripped from his lips. Once intermission finished, the concession stands, which were doing abysmal business, simply shut down. No one in that audience had an interest in anything but Leonard Cohen.


Blog - "Free Williansburg" - "Leonard Cohen Played at MSG on Friday Night"
Cohen demonstrated that you can still rock out with hat head and sing about naked ladies at age 75...


Discuss the tour and read fan reviews on The Leonard Cohen Forum and in French on the Leonard Cohen Forum (French site).









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