CONCERT REPORT: Detroit, May 9

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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Re: CONCERT REPORT: Detroit, May 9

Postby Rodali50 » Wed May 20, 2009 12:24 am

Beautiful post! Made me see the concert all over again. I saw it in Saskatoon on April 28 and the first week after it I was still in a daze. Spent most of my time either watching the Live in London DVD or going over all the songs in my head. An experience that I will never ever forget. Oh to age with the grace and dignity of Leonard Cohen.
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Re: CONCERT REPORT: Detroit, May 9

Postby ladydi » Wed May 20, 2009 4:11 pm

Dear RoseMarie,

What a beautiful, inspired posting of an incredible concert! Your words have deeply touched me and bring back the joy of every moment at the Fox. Thank you for sharing your heart with us.

All the best,
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Re: CONCERT REPORT: Detroit, May 9

Postby sturgess66 » Thu May 21, 2009 7:25 am

From about Detroit concert at Fox Theatre on May 9, 2009 -

Click on link for great pictures - and other links in article (and to give some hits to the site :lol: ) ... tre-may-9/

Leonard Cohen at the Fox Theatre, May 9, 2009

Posted by Scotter

“It’s been 14 or 15 years since I’ve last seen you.
I was 60 years old.
Just a kid with a crazy dream”
— Leonard Cohen
Leonard Cohen Photographed by Andrew Bender

I’ve wanted to see Leonard Cohen live and in person since I first heard “Suzanne.” At that time, nearly ten years ago, there was no indication that he would ever tour again, although he was still releasing occasional albums. So when it was announced in 2008 that Cohen would embark upon a world tour, I began a year’s worth of checking message boards and music sites for tour dates, and snagged tickets for the Detroit Fox Theatre show on the first day of the pre-sale. Let’s face it, this will probably be our last chance to see him live, for surely such a long, worldwide tour can be nothing but a last hoorah–a victory lap around the globe.

I wasn’t the only one in the Detroit metro area waiting for the chance to spend an evening with Leonard. The Fox Theatre looked was at capacity, and surely any open seats were at the very furthest reaches of the theatre. And from the look of the crowd, we had all traveled sundry paths through life to get to this night, to be here at this very theatre together. Being the Fox Theatre, one of Detroit’s most treasured architectural gems, some people were dressed to the nines, or even as far as the tens: women in glittery evening gowns, men suited or tuxedo’d. Conversely, I saw lots of sandals and long, braided hair, bandannas and hippy dresses. I passed one man of about 60 in skin tight, cut-off jean shorts, a flannel shirt with sleeves cut off at the shoulder, a fanny pack around his waste. The audience was half opera, half Opry.

Cohen stepped out onto the darkly lit stage at approximately 8:00, and played for over three hours, including three encores. The show started out slowly, gracefully, with “Dance Me to the End of Love,” but soon Cohen showed us that he hadn’t intended to just sit on stage and half-ass his catalog. He followed “Dance Me” with “The Future,” and revealed that he still has some fleet in his feet as he briskly two-stepped on stage while singing the lyric “There’ll be fires on the road, and the white man dancing.” And surprisingly, there was much to dance to. Although Cohen is known by most for his earlier work–the nylon-stringed ballads that established the placement of his discs in so many record stores under the “Folk” section–the songs he played live were more rhythmic, many at jogging pace, full of movement.

Cohen’s voice has gotten more and more gravely with age, but it wasn’t nearly as hoarse as I had expected it to be. Possibly more expressive now than the soft monotone of his earliest recordings, Cohen’s voice at 74 is closer to that of Tom Waits’ at 25. Every syllable was audible. Every note sung well and with feeling behind it where feeling was required by the lyric.

Accompanied by a cadre of studio musicians, Cohen treated his band not as hired guns, but true members and participants of his music. As a gesture of deference, Cohen lifted his hat off of his hand and held it to his heart during each solo, facing the soloist playing. He introduced his entire band twice. He was wont to dive to one knee to sing nearby Javier Mas, the Barcelonian player of several stringed instruments that looked like guitars from my vantage, as a symbol of reverence. My friend Kevin, who accompanied me that night, was worried about the musicians “wanking it up” with long, boring solos, and thankfully (but for the last encore when every musician took a solo) that wasn’t the case. Cohen’s songs are pretty long as it is, even at their most bare-boned.

How to describe to you the highlights of this show? There were very few songs that I wouldn’t consider a highlight. The two most unexpected delights were “Who By Fire” and “The Partisan,” early, sparse songs that were filled with more subterranean sounds and nylon string’d Spanish picking by Mas than in the recorded treatments. The stage lighting simulated that of a darkened street, low-lit, mysterious. “Who By Fire” began with an extended musical intro, a pulsing rhythm, with low cooing by back-up singers the Webb sisters and Cohen’s sometime collaborator, Sharon Robinson, setting the mood for a rendition startling in its fullness, but without over doing it. “The Partisan” also was a surprise. I’ve always been underwhelmed by the recorded version, often skipping over it when listening to Songs from a Room, perhaps because it’s such a different lyric from what you expect from Cohen. The version I heard on stage was certainly the definitive one (it does not appear on the Live in London concert album unfortunately), and the warning “the wind, the wind is blowing. Through the graves the wind is blowing” took on a new kind of creepiness and sent a chill up my spine, sung with the guttural clarity of a sage warning of ill-tidings.

The quieter songs were full of brooding as well. Cohen picked up a guitar for “Suzanne,” showing that he’s no slouch on the guitar–his excellent finger picking has always been one of the most overlooked aspects of his music. He also lead the band on guitar through “Famous Blue Raincoat,” a song I consider a masterpiece, and I kept thinking throughout that the gentle sting of frail fingers is nothing compared to the smothered pain of the “L.Cohen” who wrote those verses.

Cohen’s delicate performance of “Chelsea Hotel #2″ was particularly interesting due to the audience’s reaction to the lyric. Luckily the crowd was usually too entranced to make a peep during most of the set, but loud cheers issued at two particular moments of “Chelsea,” which made me think carefully about this song, certainly one of Cohen’s most celebrated. The first cheer, obviously, followed the lyric “giving me head on the unmade bed.” I was tempted to snicker at the cheer, but you can’t really say that the lyric is base, for every shocking sexual lyric Cohen has ever written has a grace and realism that lessens the shock value, making the listener accept that they simply belong there. But this tale, which everyone by now knows is about a night when Cohen was specially favored by Janis Joplin, is just as much about the artist’s relationship to his or her music and public as it is about a sexual tryst. The other cheer came at “You fixed yourself. You said ‘Well, nevermind. We are ugly but we have the music.’” It made me think how amazing this night must have been in Cohen’s life, not so much because of the very famous person whom he was sharing such intimacy with, but for the poetry of it all. The song must have practically written itself.

“Hallelujah” came late in the set. As the first organ chords and guitar notes began to play, there was a sense in the theatre that something important was happening–something long awaited. “Hallelujah” has been covered very often, most famously, of course, by Jeff Buckley. Any fan of the song is well aware of the deficiencies in Cohen’s original recording, with its cheesy casio-sounding keyboards, the clumsy way that Cohen sings the verses, the overzealous chorus of female voices. It’s amazing that so many artists understood that the song at its most basic form is a masterpiece–Cohen nearly blew it in the studio recording. It was a momentous relief to find that he has finally figured out how to manage such a powerful song.

I can’t say that this live version of “Hallelujah” was better than Buckley’s, but it did make me better understand the difference between the two. Jeff Buckley’s “Hallelujah” is the lament of a condemned man. It’s monastic: just him and a guitar. It sounds like it was recorded in a dark room, an abyss of the spirit. It’s a plea for redemption. The confession of a man in solitude to the Lord of Song. It leaves you just as alone. Just as solitary. Personally, I can’t listen to Buckley’s version without the feeling of having lost consciousness, until its finish, when I wake as if waking from a trance.

Cohen’s version, on the other hand, has a groove. It’s not the psalm of a repentant saint, but of a weary, knowing sinner. The principle difference between the two versions is this: It’s ok to have sex with Cohen’s version playing in the background.

Cohen chose to recite “A Thousand Kisses Deep,” adding the verses to the poem that were cut from the studio version of the song. A deeply enchanting recitation, and very suggestive as well. It occurred to me during “A Thousand Kisses Deep” (particularly during the line “You came to me this morning / and handled me like meat. / You’d have to be a man to know / how good that feels, how sweet”) that this lovable, endearing old man has made love to hundreds of women. Seriously, I wouldn’t doubt that he’s reached Wilt Chamberlain numbers, and also wouldn’t put it past him to take some pretty young thing to his dressing room after the show should one stroke his fancy. He is, after all, our Byron.

The final encore ended with an a capella version of the biblical hymn “Whither Thou Goest.” Cohen expressed with great and deep gratitude his honor to have played for us, and I couldn’t help but feel that he was really taking his final goodbye. It’s an odd thing to have witnessed the brilliance of a genius in person. The show was him–it was all his own–and I don’t think he could have put on a better one. Cohen has had a lot of time to grow, to learn, and to continue to create art. It made me think back to Janis Joplin, and Cohen’s reflection upon her life and career: “You got away. Didn’t you baby. You just turned your back on the crowd.”

For a long time, I felt that Cohen had done just that: turned his back on the crowd. He had every right to do so. But he did the opposite. He met us face to face. He bared his heart to us (as he has always done). I’m not really one for hero-worship. The midwesterner in me finds it distasteful. But if I’d have worn a top hat to the show, I surely would have taken it from atop my head and held it to me heart, bowing in appreciation.

Set List
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 #2
Waiting For the Miracle
Tower of Song
The Gypsy’s Wife
The Partisan
Boogie Street (sung by Sharon Robinson)
I’m Your Man
A Thousand Kisses Deep (recited with some musical background)
Take This Waltz
First Encore:
So Long, Marianne
First We Take Manhattan
Second Encore:
Famous Blue Raincoat
If It Be Your Will
Third Encore:
I Tried to Leave You
Whither Thou Goest

(Images by Andrew Bender (c) 2009. Thanks to Motor City Blog for use of images).

Tiny Mix Tapes’ Kinky Cohen: Part 1 Part 2
Simon Schama’s “The High Priest of Minimalism”
Scotter’s review of “I’m Your Man,”, July 16, 2006
Riverfront Times Review of Cohen in St. Louis
Metro Times Review of Cohen in New York City.
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Re: CONCERT REPORT: Detroit, May 9

Postby MaryB » Thu May 21, 2009 8:24 am


Thanks for this lovely review and the link. I did go to the link and did the suggested reading. Hated the first one - the author uses LC's lyrics to fit his S&M philosophy. I don't get it. Even though LC has said somewhere that his lyrics mean however the listener wants to interpret them, I just can't believe there is that much S&M in them - even 'If It Be Your Will'! This reviewer is way over the top.

Absolutely loved the Metro Times review of the Beacon Theatre show. Don't think I've seen it before on the forum, so it was a double joy to read it.

Best regards,
1993 Detroit 2008 Kitchener June 2-Hamilton June 3 & 4-Vienna Sept 24 & 25-London RAH Nov 17 2009 NYC Feb 19-Grand Prairie Apr 3-Phoenix Apr 5-Columbia May 11-Red Rocks Jun 4-Barcelona Sept 21-Columbus Oct 27-Las Vegas Nov 12-San Jose Nov 13 2010 Sligo Jul 31 & Aug 1-LV Dec 10 & 11 2012 Paris Sept 30-London Dec 11-Boston Dec 16 2013 Louisville Mar 30-Amsterdam Sept 20
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Re: CONCERT REPORT: Detroit, May 9

Postby BethDubya » Fri Jun 05, 2009 5:46 am

I just purchased the 2009 tour Live in London DVD yesterday. My husband was in tears watching it, literally.
We missed the concert. We were torn between LC and finally having to attend a dual family birthday party.
Alas, we will probably not ever be able to see LC live in concert and certainly can't afford to fly overseas
to see his others. C'est la vie! :(

We love you, LC!! And will continue to enjoy your melodious voice flowing through our home. :)
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Re: CONCERT REPORT: Detroit, May 9

Postby ladydi » Sat Jun 06, 2009 7:07 am

Hi Beth,

Welcome to the Forum! I am so sorry you had to miss the Detroit show. It was truly incredible! However, do not give up hope!! There is a REMOTE possibility that after the European tour is over, Leonard will indeed have a select few more concerts in the US. Keep the faith! And, as Jarkko always says...remain patient :D

Stay with us...there is so much on the Forum that is wonderful!

All the best,
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Re: CONCERT REPORT: Detroit, May 9

Postby MusicCityGypsy » Wed Jun 10, 2009 7:00 pm

be still my heart! DIANA you are giving me lc tour anxiety all over again! :lol: Everyday I wake up with different slideshows of the show passing through my head!!! I hope I get to see him again, my hopes will be up but not crushed because I feel honored to have seen him already!! (I will one day post my "report" of this detroit show...I swear!)

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Re: CONCERT REPORT: Detroit, May 9

Postby MaryB » Thu Jun 11, 2009 4:50 am

MusicCityGypsy wrote:I will one day post my "report" of this detroit show...I swear!)


Oh Cara,

Thank you so much for this. Now I don't feel so guilty about not posting my review of the Red Rocks concert yet (soon come mon). But, I will be watching out for your review!

Best regards,
1993 Detroit 2008 Kitchener June 2-Hamilton June 3 & 4-Vienna Sept 24 & 25-London RAH Nov 17 2009 NYC Feb 19-Grand Prairie Apr 3-Phoenix Apr 5-Columbia May 11-Red Rocks Jun 4-Barcelona Sept 21-Columbus Oct 27-Las Vegas Nov 12-San Jose Nov 13 2010 Sligo Jul 31 & Aug 1-LV Dec 10 & 11 2012 Paris Sept 30-London Dec 11-Boston Dec 16 2013 Louisville Mar 30-Amsterdam Sept 20

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