This is my review from today's edition of The Daily Gleaner. The show did not end untuil after press time on Subsday, but we gave the world that first great photo taken by Ray Bourgeois in yesterday's edition.http://dailygleaner.canadaeast.com/live ... cle/294101
Leonard Cohen wows Fredericton
By WILFRED LANGMAID
For The Daily Gleaner
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
It was the most unlikely of scenarios.
Sony BMG artist Leonard Cohen had not been on tour in a decade-and-a-half, and he is almost 74. He announced a world tour in March, and that got worldwide attention. News that the tour would begin in small venues - and that the first stop would be Fredericton - was a minor miracle. The show sold out in minutes.
Most people expected quite a few hiccups on opening night. Many people expected a relatively short show, all things considered. Some people thought that the show would be rather weak, but it would still be a chance to see a legend.
These people were all wrong.
Leonard Cohen came to the stage at The Playhouse at 8:05 p.m. on Sunday night. Six male musicians and three female vocalists preceded him, and the place burst into two minutes of standing applause. After some comments of warmth toward the city that has taken him to heart these last few days despite "all the troubles of the swollen river," declaring "the hospitality has been impeccable," he kicked into the 1984 track Dance Me To The End Of Love.
He left the stage almost three hours later as his band played the final strains of Closing Time from his 1992 album The Future.
The energy and strength of Cohen was really the evening's most pleasant surprise. He was in fine voice all night long, and his enthusiasm never flagged over a 20-song performance.
He admitted some nervousness after the warm response to his second track, quipping "I was kind of nervous. It's the first time I've done this in 14 years. I was 60 years old the last time - just a kid with a crazy dream."
However, he loosened up quickly, and was fully engaged by the fourth track, a stretched out version of 1969's Bird On The Wire.
He dabbled in guitar on some songs, such as 1967's Suzanne early in set two, and had some fun with a keyboard on the second set opener Tower Of Song from 1988.
It is said that The Playhouse has never seen a more extensive arsenal of equipment, and the sound was impeccable. Roscoe Beck (bass & vocals, music director), Neil Larsen (keyboard, accordion, brass instruments), Bob Metzger (guitar, steel guitar & vocals), Javier Mas (acoustic guitar, oud &. string instruments), Rafael Gayol (drums & percussion) and Dino Soldo (keyboard, saxophone, wind instruments & vocals) were all master musicians who delivered nary a wasted note.
Beck's arrangements were sometimes jarringly inventive - such as the move of So Long Marianne from his 1967 debut album Songs Of Leonard Cohen from ¾ time to a 4/4 with some cadence shifts - but everything worked like a charm.
Mas and Larsen were bedrock musicians in the team. Mas' skills with 12-string guitar, oud, and other stringed instruments were intense beyond description, while the Hammond B3 work of Larsen on some songs was especially key.
Of the backing vocalists, the shining star was Sharon Robinson. She has sung with him off and on through the years, and was co-credited with him on his 2001 album Ten New Songs.
Speculation as to the set list was rampant amongst fans worldwide before the show. The answer was given in a concert of two eight-song sets and four encores.
The concert was heavy on his material from three consecutive albums - three songs from 1984's Various Positions, six songs from 1988's I'm Your Man, and four songs from 1992's The Future.
Besides the three songs from the 1960s, there were two from the 2001 album Ten New Songs and none from 2004's Dear Heather.
There were only two songs in total from his four albums of the 1970s. However, they were showstoppers - a late first set version of 1974's Who By Fire and an early second set version of 1979's The Gypsy's Wife.
Cohen played the Rebecca Cohn Auditorium in Halifax last night. His tour continues there tonight. Before it is all said and done, he will headline at the United Kingdom's Glastonbury Festival on June 29 for 150,000 fans. The Montreux Jazz Festival and Spain's Bennicasim are also on the schedule.
However, it all started here Sunday night.
Set list from Cohen's Sunday night concert at The Playhouse
Dance Me To The End Of Love
Ain't No Cure For Love
Bird On The Wire
In My Secret Life
Who By Fire
Tower Of Song
I'm Your Man
Take This Waltz
Heart With No Companion
So Long, Marianne
First We Take Manhattan