CONCERT REPORT: Phoenix, April 5

USA and Canada (April 1 - June 4, 2009). Special concert for fans in NYC (February 19). Concert reports, set lists, photos, media coverage, multimedia links, recollections...
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CONCERT REPORT: Phoenix, April 5

Post by pohlman » Mon Apr 06, 2009 8:42 pm

No time for a detailed report, but suffice it to say that all the previous reviews were dead on... the most magical show I've ever seen. I'm still walking on air. It is such a privilege to be part of this that any hesitations due to economics or geography are to be denied, if possible.

Review from the local rag, though I think the setlist is a bit off (I certainly don't recall "Sisters of Mercy" but maybe the euphoria is scrambling my memory): ... eview.html
Legendary Leonard Cohen energetic at the Doge
by Tracy Collins - Apr. 6, 2009 09:45 AM
The Arizona Republic
Less than a week after releasing a terrific live concert on CD and DVD, poet-cum-musician-cum-Buddhist monk-cum-resurgent performer Leonard Cohen recreated the experience for a fawning Dodge Theatre crowd Sunday night.

But while the set list was nearly identical and even some of the between-song banter was the same, Cohen trumped the show recorded nine months ago in London with more energy and decisively better vocals.

Accompanied by six virtuoso musicians and three beautiful backup singers, the 74-year-old Cohen held the stage for 3 hours and 16 minutes, pausing only for a 27-minute intermission just over an hour into the show, and again for about 2 minutes offstage before the encore.

From the opening bars of "Dance Me to the End of Love" to the benediction of "Whither Thou Goest," Cohen showed more energy than most of his audience, whose ages ranged an impressive seven decades. He often began songs on one knee, at times played organ and guitar, and left the stage only briefly several times late in the show, skipping or dancing offstage only to return a moment later.

In the process, he outlasted the tolerance of many in the crowd for more babysitter pay or, in some cases old and young, for bedtime.

Cohen's performance included droll humor, enchanting poetry readings, and his noted role as the lusty Barry White of the Greenwich Village set. His plunging baritone delivered his often-Hemingway-esque takes on the trials and triumphs of passion and lust, with lines over which he is known to spend weeks and that often brought murmurs, chuckles or even applause from the appreciative audience.

Equally impressive was his band. Javier Mas played an assortment of 12-string guitar and bandurria that gave much of the music an old Spanish flavor. Dino Soldo played an assortment of wind instruments to great effect, and Bob Metzger's electric guitar solos were brief but exquisite. Bassist Roscoe Beck, drummer Rafael Gayol and keyboardist Neil Larsen joined the others in not only getting their own solos, but being introduced in both the first and second sets by Cohen.

The singers were led by Cohen's longtime collaborator, Sharon Robinson, who also took a sultry solo turn on "Boogie Street." The Webb Sisters, from England, filled out the sound with angelic voices, including a performance of Cohen's "If It Be Your Will," which he opened with a spoken-word intro.

The lighting was low-key and gorgeous, the sound perfect, and the interplay between musicians so precise yet casual that even looking hard for flaws turned up nothing. In his fifth decade as a performer, Cohen didn't miss a beat.

The crowd saved its biggest cheers for songs from Cohen's album "The Future," including the title track, the rousing "Anthem" and a rollicking "Closing Time." If the singer, who had to leave his Buddhist monastery and return to performing after being swindled by his accountant, had any doubts about his relevance to fans nearly 17 years after that career landmark, their reaction laid those to rest.

***(Set list removed because it was not complete -- scroll down for a more accurate one / Jarkko)***
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Re: CONCERT REPORT: Phoenix, April 5

Post by mnkyface » Mon Apr 06, 2009 11:34 pm

I'm so happy That Don't Make It Junk is back!!
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Re: CONCERT REPORT: Phoenix, April 5

Post by etio » Tue Apr 07, 2009 12:30 am

Yes, I was at the Phoenix concert and was in a transcended state afterwards.

Question: I bought and lost a tee shirt at the concert. Are those items for sale elsewhere? I did call the Dodge Theatre lost & found but it was not returned.

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Re: CONCERT REPORT: Phoenix, April 5

Post by MarieM » Tue Apr 07, 2009 1:52 am

The set list from the newspaper doesn't list The Partisan or Famous Blue Raincoat. Does anyone remember if they were included in the Phoenix concert?
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Re: CONCERT REPORT: Phoenix, April 5

Post by pohlman » Tue Apr 07, 2009 2:05 am

You're right - they both were played. The set list from the article leaves quite a bit to be desired. Now I wish I'd written it down last night so I could make the corrections.
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Re: CONCERT REPORT: Phoenix, April 5

Post by pohlman » Tue Apr 07, 2009 4:05 am

The other local rag finally chimed in, and this set list looks more accurate than the other one: ... _cohen.php
Perfection on Stage, Leonard Cohen Captivates Audience at Dodge
By Stephen Chilton in Concert Review
Monday, Apr. 6 2009 @ 12:43PM

There are few artists in the same league as Leonard Cohen. Even Lou Reed has placed the poet and songwriter in the "highest and most influential echelon of songwriters." There are few as respected as revered Cohen and yet he has been able to maintain an air of distance and mystery between himself and the world. And after over a decade away from the limelight he graced us in the Valley with a performance only he could deliver last night.

It has been fifteen years since Leonard Cohen has done a concert tour of America, since when as he put it last night "I was just 60 years old, just a kid with a crazy dream," one of the few times he spoke between songs taking a brief second to explain his latest outing. And at 74 years of age now his set was as lively and powerful as many performers a third his age. Cohen skipped on and off stage, got down on his knees several times and danced on stage like a kid.

Cohen played a captivating three hour set, leading a incredible 9 piece band through at least 27 of his songs with only a brief intermission. One of the only other times he spoke between songs was to introduce his band at the end of each half of the set. The band was lead by bassist Roscoe Beck, with Javier Mas from Barcelona on bandurria and laúd giving the songs a Spanish flair. Dino Soldo played saxophones, keyboards and many other wind instruments often turning what was a originally a string part into a woodwind part. Neil Larson played piano and keyboards often setting the mood while Choen spoke or introduced songs, Bob Metzger on guitar and steel guitar and Rafael Gayol from Mexico City on drums with the most amazing precision. Sharon Robinson, Cohen's long time collaborator and co-writer led The Webb Sisters, the English Hattie and Charley Webb, in backing vocals as well as singing a solo rendition of "Boogie Street." The band was perfect from start to close.

The show was almost identical the show last year in London, recently released as a CD and DVD. The set started with "Dance Me To The End Of Love" and featured "The Future" "Everybody knows," "Chelsea Hotel No.2" and "Anthem" before the brief intermission. After the intermission, which was only an hour into the 3 hour set, Cohen preformed "Suzanne" mostly buy himself on acoustic guitar while the band step away. In that second half he preformed "Hallelujah" dropping to both knees to rise in a dramatic motion fitting of the moving music. The second half also included a solo reading of his poem "A Thousand Kisses Deep."

His nine song encore included such classic as "Democracy" "Closing Time" "I Tried To Leave You." The encore left the audience on their feet and in suspense for much off the time with Cohen teasing the crowed after songs skipping of stage several times leading the audience to believe it could be the end of the set only to come back out into one more number and then another. Half way through the encore, the whole band followed Cohen off stage. He returned to with only Hattie and Charley Webb and Neil Larson. The four did a moving rendition of "If It Be Your Will" started off by Cohen reciting the lyrics flowed by The Webb Sisters signing the song to Harp, acoustic guitar and Larson's piano before the full band returned to do four more numbers.
Even at the end of his set Cohen was pure class. After the final song, the appropriate "Whither Thou Goest," Cohen brough his crew on stage and thanked all his musicians and the crew by name before thanking the audience and taking one final bow. It may be a long time be for a talent that classy walks on that stage.

Set List (as best I could make out):

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 No.2
Hey, That's No Way to Say Goodbye


Tower Of Song
The Gypsy's Wife
The Partisan ("La Complainte du Partisan")
Boogie Street
I'm Your Man
A Thousand Kisses Deep
Take This Waltz


So Long, Marianne
First We Take Manhattan
Famous Blue Raincoat
If It Be Your Will
That Don't Make It Junk
Closing Time
I Tried To Leave you
Whither Thou Goest

Critic's Notebook:

Last Night: Lenard Cohen at Doge Theater in Downtown Phoenix.

Better Than: All the other huge shows this weekend, in my opinion.

Personal Bias: I have a hard time sitting through almost any bands half-hour set, even bands I like, but Cohen's 3 hour set captivated me till the very last song. "Halleluja" is one of the greatest pieces of music ever written and certainly one of the best songs in recent history.

Random Detail: During his song "The Future" Cohen changed a line from "white men dancing" to "white girls dancing" and two of his back ground singers, the sisters Hattie and Charley Webb, did a cartwheel away from their microphones.

Further Listening: If you do not know Cohen's entire catalog, get started. There isn't a bad song in it and most of it is breath taking.

By the Way: During the classic "Everybody Knows" some one in the front gave Cohen a box of Chocolates and a Long Stem Rose, it is hard to imagine that this does not happen every night.

One More Thing: The Dodge Theater's box office was slow this night. People were literally cheering and clapping every time some one walked away from the ticket window because it was taking so long.
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Re: CONCERT REPORT: Phoenix, April 5

Post by ladydi » Tue Apr 07, 2009 5:09 am

Hi all,

I'm too tired tonight (just flew back in from Phoenix and was up 25 hours yesterday!) but will post more tomorrow.

The box of chocolates and long stemmed rose was from MaryB (so glad the reviewer noticed!) was the incredible monkey with the hand-carved plywood violin that she sat on the stage at the opening chords of First We Take Manhattan that Leonard laughed at and later swooped up, holding the monkey high and then skipping off stage with monkey in tow! :lol:

Mary, her husband, and I had the incredible good luck to be front row center! All future concerts will pale in comparison! Not because of the concert but because it was so nice to thank Javier Mas in person as he was only 3 feet from me!

Will try to post some photos if I can figure out how.... :?

I will be on cloud nine for weeks! Hmm, that's when my next concert comes... 8)

All the best,
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Re: CONCERT REPORT: Phoenix, April 5

Post by ladydi » Tue Apr 07, 2009 5:19 am

One more thing... There was the most delightful, exuberant, totally uninhibited fan seated next to us in the first row. He is from Israel but now living in Los Angeles. I think the Phoenix concert was the highlight of his life! If you read this Forum, it was such a pleasure to meet you and hope you have the opportunity to see Leonard again! Very soon!

All the best,
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Re: CONCERT REPORT: Phoenix, April 5

Post by sue7 » Tue Apr 07, 2009 6:15 am

Wow, what a set list! Let's hope he does this in NY in May. That Don't Make It Junk... how wonderful.
Thanks for great descriptions of the concert, and for posting the reviews. So wonderful to take pleasure in everyone else's incredible experiences, knowing that Radio City for me is less than 6 weeks away.
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Re: CONCERT REPORT: Phoenix, April 5

Post by Bill's Bar » Tue Apr 07, 2009 9:37 pm

Lady Di
Hope you can post a photo of the monkey and the plywood violin. :D
Mary deserves a front row seat for all future concerts for such a great idea. :D
2008: Dublin 14/6, Lucca 27/7,Munich 6/10, Bournemouth 11/11, London 13/11 ,Paris 24/11.
2009: Quebec 21/5, Ottawa 26/5, Dublin 19/7,Venice 3/8, Barcelona 21/9, Nashville 5/11, St.Louis 7/11, San Jose 13/11
2010: Sligo 31/7,1/8.
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Re: CONCERT REPORT: Phoenix, April 5

Post by evewaldman » Wed Apr 08, 2009 2:13 am

Lady Di
Hope you can post a photo of the monkey and the plywood violin.
Mary deserves a front row seat for all future concerts for such a great idea.
Ditto Bill's Bar. Mary, you are sooooooooooo smart! What a hoot! And Diana? You got to thank Javier Mas in person? Put me in your pocket for your next concert? :)

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Re: CONCERT REPORT: Phoenix, April 5

Post by ladydi » Wed Apr 08, 2009 3:49 am

Bill's Bar wrote:Lady Di
Hope you can post a photo of the monkey and the plywood violin. :D
Mary deserves a front row seat for all future concerts for such a great idea. :D
Hi Bill,

Totally agree re Mary! So resourceful. Anyhow, I am contacting my lifelines to find out how to post photos onto the Forum from Picasa. Hopefully I'll have a few up by tomorrow!


ps...come on Eve...Detroit is next! I'll take my big Leonard tote and you can squeeze in!
Last edited by ladydi on Wed Apr 08, 2009 5:19 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: CONCERT REPORT: Phoenix, April 5

Post by ladydi » Wed Apr 08, 2009 4:33 am

Phoenix...rising from the ashes!

Not that Leonard needed to rise from any ashes; however, the audience certainly rose far above any possible ashes! Reports that I had heard from Grand Prairie sort of indicated that although the audience was "reverential", that in a way meant "quiet". Nothing at all wrong with that, as that is so respectful of Leonard's poetry and songs! I was a little apprehensive as Phoenix doesn't seem to be exactly a hotbed of Leonard Cohen fans, and I say this having lived in Northern AZ for 8 years. Flagstaff possibly could have far outnumbered LC fans in Phoenix. Wow! Was I wrong! Either there were a lot of LA fans who had driven over, or there are tons of fans in Phoenix! Nothing reverential...there was hooting and hollering and whistling and singing! Wonderful.....

For me, every Leonard concert I attend seems to be the best! I thought nothing could top the Beacon; however, I think that awesome concert also had much to do with ALL of US who came from all over the world for one incredible shining moment in time! The energy created was from a bond of believers, and it sizzled.

Phoenix was something else. Something spontaneous. They loved him!

And Leonard, in turn, loved us, as only he knows how to do! He sang to our souls. He drew tears to our eyes. He made us laugh...and appreciate lost, love given. As the evening progressed he seemed to relax more and more. I think Mary's cute little monkey was HIS highlight of the evening! He laughed and so did Sharon! It was a totally delightful escapist type moment and it made people smile.

Although I am possibly going bankrupt, I can not more highly recommend a seat in the first row of the pit! A volunteer in the lobby asked if he could assist me with directions and said that they were attempting to upgrade some fans to better seats. He stared at my ticket....looked up at me and said..."honey, you got the best!".

Yes I did, for one night in Phoenix! I was seated next to wonderful friends and I was 3 feet from Javier Mas! It was like being in my living room and having this great band, awesome singers, Sharon, and the maestro Leonard, all perfoming JUST for me! I couldn't see all the thousands behind me. At the end as we stood applauding on and on and on and on...I looked at Javier and simply said "thank you so much for this night". Did he hear...maybe...maybe not. But it was nice having him and a few others in my living room for a few hours :D

In my very humble opinion.....Leonard is getting mellower....more laid back...and definitely sexier as this tour continues! Can't wait until he's 84! Wow...

All the best,
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Re: CONCERT REPORT: Phoenix, April 5

Post by DryHeat » Wed Apr 08, 2009 5:58 am

Hi everybody, just joined here to add my newbie story of the Phoenix concert. I followed LC's work avidly in the '60s and '70s, can still quote scattered verses from memory, but lost focus in the '80s and '90s. Participated a bit in the old Usenet thread for a while but again drifted away before this forum was established, anyway. Saw some of the YouTube clips from the European gigs a year ago and remember fans opining that the last one in the UK looked surely like the final he would be likely to do. With regret at never having seen him live, I accepted that as the status for LC concerts, especially in the US.

My wife has always loved Springsteen, The Boss, and I was much impressed with his gig pre-inauguration doing backup for Pete Seeger in front of the Lincoln Memorial on "This Land is Your Land." Then ah-ha, there was a Ticketmaster sale of Phoenix tix for a concert by him last Friday. I lurked online to get "the best available" from that august business 20 seconds after they started the sale and soon held tickets printed Row 6, Seats 59, 60 for my adoring spouse and myself. Section GA... on the floor, well, looked like extremely close to the stage, right? Seats, right? To my horror, a week prior to the event, I randomly noticed on Craigslist for our Tucson area (100 miles south of Phoenix), comments of people trying to dump their "seats" at half price since "GA" meant standing room only. My wife was working that day, and has enough arthritis that this was an ongoing source of angst for the next week. Would we have to leave in mid-concert? Would we be anywhere near the stage? Well, it worked out OK with a rousing concert but we did leave with aching legs from 5 hours standing and buzzing ears from the rocking amps. Maybe 2 AM after the long return drive home we got to sleep.

Sat morning I wandered around half addled by unaccustomed sleep cycle disruption and at some point had the bemused idea of checking Craigslist again to see whether "Boss" ticket prices had dropped yet more at the last second, plus what we'd've paid for actual close-in seats, you know, idle research. Blearily scanning one of the listings I went past a comment of also having Cohen concert tickets available... .... Huh? Cartoon doubletake of Roadrunner screeching to a halt. Beep-Beep? Leonard Cohen is having a concert back up in Phoenix tomorrownightohmygawdwhereistheDodgeTheaterWhatdotheticketscostAretheyonEbaytoo Etc.

After a half day of phone calls and emails and net surfing I finally settled on committing by phone for a pair of seats maybe 9/10 of the way back in the middle area, at maybe half-price since sales were a bit slow, from a semi-scalper who'd meet us right at the theater. So, two days later, we were making the same drive late afternoon back up to Phoenix, praying for no mechanical trouble or major gridlock slowdown. Everything went flawlessly. The Dodge was easy to find, Sunday night parking was free on-street so we just pulled up a half-block from the doors, chatted with the scalper after getting the tix at about 6:15, and strolled over to the doors. Maybe three people in "line." Somebody inside sort of shrugged, opened the doors right then, checked bags, and let us in. I guess my wife sort of gently towed me around frictionlessly with my feet at least a half-inch off the floor, in ecstasy that we were absolutely there, in a very pleasant-looking theater.

We casually asked an older usher-fellow which door we'd best use for our section when it was time to go in, he looked over the stubs and pointed, and we went on floating around grinning, comfy with an hour or so wait in such a pleasant venue. Quite a contrast with the mob scene out at Arena for Springsteen. Finally, a pleasant place for serious music! (And it certainly was.) Older usherman strolled back up to us and casually inquired if we'd like an upgrade on our seats? ("Taking from his wallet an old schedule of trains..."?) Oh, sure, why not, one of us assented, with him then opening an envelope and shuffling through maybe ten or twelve "comp" tickets, settling on a couple and swapping them out. Oh, a different section. Other door then, cool, hmmm which row, "5"? Wow, that's only four rows of people in front of us, what a bonus! Eventually we both floated down the aisle and as we got closer to the front I grabbed my wife and croaked "Omahlord, the first FOUR rows are those folding chairs that form the stagefront pit!!! We just got given a place in the front row of the permanent seats!"

And so it was... we (and I think at least the two couples immediately to our left, although nobody was doing a lot of talking about our fortune... everyone a bit afraid of offending any neighbors who'd paid a lot more) were suddenly going to be able to see the details. String instrument fingering, facial expressions of everyone on stage, rose and chocolates and monkey and plywood violin plopping onto stage and being gleefully swept away by LC. It was magic, and we could see it was NOT done with mirrors.

We will first forever remember an ecstatic poetic and musical experience, as so well described by others here. We will also treasure having been beneficiaries of some sort of happy confluence of generosity with surely the Dodge Theater and LC's management and ticketing policies having contributed to our wonderful seating placement. I will only add that even with my own hearing certainly not the most acute, I could discern the most clear of separations in the arrangements; soft drum work, all the fabulous instruments individually clear, yet nothing overriding LC's vocal work, either, even lyrics with which I'm only slightly familiar much more distinct than I'd imagined possible!
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Re: CONCERT REPORT: Phoenix, April 5

Post by Euston40 » Thu Apr 09, 2009 6:53 am

With Sunday's show, Leonard Cohen confirmed yet again what I have thought since discovering his music in high school 25 years ago -- that he is the standard against which all singer/songwriters should be measured.

I saw Leonard on his last tour, two nights at the Hummingbird Center in Toronto back in 1994 or so, and he has only gotten better with age. In fact, he seems to be feeling younger than on that tour and I can only hope that this is not a swan song. What other artist brings his road crew on stage, thanking them all, his sound crew, his lighting team, even the caterers! Not only a great performer, but a gentleman.

Come back Leonard! Et, merci bien, mon ami.
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