CONCERT REPORT: Philadelphia, May 12

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: Philadelphia, May 12

Post by bridger15 » Wed May 13, 2009 5:36 pm

From: Delaware Online
Ryan Cormier
Wednesday, May 13, 2009 ... cohen.html

Sincerely, L. Cohen

Back in 1992 when influential songwriter Leonard Cohen released his most unsettling and somewhat apocalyptic album, "The Future," a pre-9/11 United States was enjoying relative stability, including growing relations with Russia with then-Russian Boris Yeltsin visiting Washington D.C. for the first time.

At that moment, many of Cohen's words seemed not of these times, including the wary title track on which Cohen sang, "Give me back the Berlin Wall/Give me Stalin and St. Paul/I've seen the future, brother: it is murder."

About 16 years after those words were written, hearing them from a 74-year-old Cohen at Tuesday night's show at the ornate Academy of Music in Philadelphia was downright chilling as the world around us swirls with war, nuclear fears and an economy on the brink.

And even though there's plenty of despair to go around, Cohen's return to Philadelphia for the first time since 1993 was a reason to celebrate for fans as he winds down a 36-date North American tour.

Dressed in a sharp black suit and a matching fedora, the Canadian poet-turned-songwriter treated the effusive sold out crowd to a 3-hour concert, which included a staggering eight standing ovations.

He touched on his greatest works from his 42-year career, backed by a soft-touch six-piece band with Javier Mas on 12-string guitar as its highlight and a trio of back-up singers made up of longtime collaborator Sharon Robinson and The Webb Sisters, who delivered synchronized cartwheels during "The Future."

Cohen, who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last year, skipped on and off stage throughout the night as if he were a giddy schoolboy and took off his hat during solos as a sign of respect for his backing band. At other times, he dropped to one knee for some lines and was on both knees for parts of "First We Take Manhattan."

"It's been a while since I stood up on stage here. It was 14 or 15 years ago. I was 60 years old, just a kid with a crazy dream," Cohen joked in between his songs of love and hate. "Since then, I've taken a lot of Prozac, Paxil, Effexor, Wellbutrin, Ritalin and I also turned to a rigorous study of religions and philosophies, but cheerfulness kept breaking through."

The dark themes in some of the songs, which Kurt Cobain sang about as a "Leonard Cohen afterworld" on "Pennyroyal Tea," and the darkened times we find ourselves in was not lost on Cohen himself.

"Some people say it's going to be worse than Y2K," he said, jokingly, before turning serious in front of 2,900 fans. "So much of the world is plunged in suffering and chaos that it is remarkable that we have the opportunity to gather in places like this."

But it was the eerie relevance of his songs, dating back at least 15 years, that made the night a mind-twisting experience.

Whether it was his singing about the "the brave, the bold, the battered heart of Chevrolet" on "Democracy" or how "the poor stay poor, the rich get rich" on "Everybody Knows," it was hard not to shake the songs' remarkable timeliness.

The crowd broke into spontaneous applause over similar themes. The first was for "Anthem" -- "Can't run no more with the lawless crowd/While the killers in high places say their prayers out loud/But they've summoned up a thundercloud/And they're going to hear from me." The second was during "Tower of Song" in which the line, "The rich have got their channels in the bedrooms of the poor and there's a mighty judgment coming, but I may be wrong," caused a woman to vent some frustration by yelling, "No, you're right Leonard!"

His oldest songs were the best received, whether it be "Bird On A Wire," which was halved by solos by guitarist Bob Metzger and saxophonist Dino Soldo or "Who By Fire" with a brilliant 2-minute acoustic introduction by Mas on the laud as his shadow towered over him in the background. And Cohen's autopsy of his fling with late singer Janis Joplin -- "Chelsea Hotel #2" -- drew laughter and applause when Cohen sang with conviction, "You told me again you preferred handsome men, but for me you would make an exception."

He also reclaimed "Hallelujah," his oft-covered song, raising his voice for one of the few times during the night, expanding the range of his baritone to hit the right notes. He injected an emotion into that song that it originally lacked when first released in 1984, but was later captured by Jeff Buckley's majestic version of the song. Cohen also injected some local love into the song, singing, "I didn't come all the way to Philadelphia just to fool you."

Cohen, known for sometimes taking years to complete the writing of a song, also toyed with his well-crafted lyrics, slipping in, "There's very little entertainment here and the critics are severe," into "Waiting For A Miracle," which like "The Future," was included in Oliver Stone's own disturbing work, "Natural Born killers." On "I'm Your Man," he added that he would wear an "old man's mask" for the song's heroine while taking off his hat and showing off his close-cropped gray hair.

In the years since Cohen's last U.S. tour, his set list has not changed much and Tuesday's show was a virtual replica of his newly released "Live in London" two-disc CD of a 2008 concert. But given how long it took Cohen to return to the road -- he spent five years as a Zen Buddhist monk at the Mt. Baldy Zen Center in Los Angeles after his last tour -- a passing thought that this could be Cohen's final tour was seemingly shared by many.

With that in mind, the night ended with an elegant goodbye, in which Cohen thanked everyone involved with the tour, from the musicians right down to the bus drivers and caterers.

"I don't know when I'll pass this way again, so until then, take care friends. The weather's kind of tricky out there, so don't catch a cold. If you have to fall, fall on the side of luck," he said. "And may you be surrounded by friends and family. And if this is not your lot, may the blessings find you in your solitude. Thank you so much for your warmth and your hospitality. We greatly appreciate it. Good night, friends."

The 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
Sisters of Mercy
Take This Waltz
Boogie Street
I'm Your Man
A Thousand Kisses Deep
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
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Re: CONCERT REPORTS: Philadelphia, May 12

Post by Phrequency » Wed May 13, 2009 6:30 pm

here are some great photos from the Philly Inquirer: ... usic_.html
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Re: CONCERT REPORT: Philadelphia, May 12

Post by negrilmark » Wed May 13, 2009 7:19 pm

I finally saw Leonard Cohen perform last night at The Academy of Music.This was my first Leonard Cohen concert. The experience was moving, powerful, beautiful, inspiring,spiritual, transcendental and beyond words. I actually felt that I was witnessing something that I will never see again. The perfection of the musicians, Leonard's singing and presence, and the vocal beauty of the other singers was unreal. It was a once in a lifetime experience.
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The Philadelphia Inquirer's Review of Leonard Cohen

Post by Phrequency » Wed May 13, 2009 8:24 pm ... y____.html

Check it out. Dan DeLuca is a great writer and he loved the show.
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Re: CONCERT REPORT: Philadelphia, May 12

Post by Steven » Wed May 13, 2009 8:58 pm

I'm wordless, in attempting to try to convey how wonderful the experience of last
night's concert was... as the previous poster said, "beyond words."
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Re: CONCERT REPORT: Philadelphia, May 12

Post by tomsakic » Wed May 13, 2009 9:50 pm

bridger15 wrote: (...) during "Tower of Song" in which the line, "The rich have got their channels in the bedrooms of the poor and there's a mighty judgment coming, but I may be wrong," caused a woman to vent some frustration by yelling, "No, you're right Leonard!"
Never heard for response like this one, but that lady was quite right to do so - I really like her reaction. 8)
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Re: CONCERT REPORT: Philadelphia, May 12

Post by dalessandrodd » Wed May 13, 2009 10:08 pm

From the Philadelphia Injuirier ... ademy.html

Posted on Wed, May. 13, 2009
Leonard Cohen puts on a magnificent show at the Academy
By Dan DeLuca

Inquirer Music Critic

Leonard Cohen isn't quite as old as the Academy of Music, he just sounds like he is.

On Tuesday, the 74-year-old Canadian song-poet put on a magnificent three-hour-show at the 152-year-old opera house that was filled with prayer-like intensity and easygoing grace, not to mention sartorial splendor, meticulous musicianship and as perfectly crisp a sound mix as I can ever recall hearing at a rock show.

And the white-haired guy - who can look like an elderly gentleman begging for alms or a remarkably nimble and debonair cock of the walk, depending on whether he's holding his fedora over his heart or wearing it on his head - cracked a bunch of old guy jokes, too.

"I haven't been this happy since the end of World War II," he dryly croaked in "Waiting for the Miracle," the elegantly stately song in which he sang, "the maestro says its Mozart, but it sounds like bubblegum," before gesturing toward the bust of the Austrian composer atop the Academy's proscenium arch.

And Cohen altered a lyric in the sashaying "I'm Your Man," to volunteer to "wear an old man mask for you," as part of his septuagenarian seduction technique.

Cohen hasn't toured in nearly 15 years - or, as he put it, when "I was 60, just a kid with a crazy dream." In the interim, his stature has rightly grown as an iconic wordsmith of the first generation of rock singer-songwriters, a philosopher of love and death, sexual ecstasy and societal doom, whose cigarette-scarred singing voice has grown more effective even as its range has become more limited.

This time around, Cohen was backed by a superb 10-piece band whose standouts included the Spanish bandurria player Javier Mas, the keyboardist Neil Larsen, and a chorus consisting of Cohen's co-writer Sharon Robinson, and sisters Charley and Hattie Webb.

The crowd at the sold-out Academy - which would have been even more cross-generational if the ticket prices hadn't hit nearly $200 (not that anybody was complaining) - regarded him with deep respect.

Early on in the first set, Cohen performed "Everybody Knows," his song of political and personal betrayal from his fruitful late-'80s electronic phase. And at the Academy, everybody knew that he would probably still be holed up in a Buddhist monastery in Los Angeles if he hadn't been allegedly bilked out of millions by his former manager (he was later awarded $9 million by a Canadian court in a civil suit).

And everybody seemed happy with the turn of events, especially Cohen, who skipped on and off the stage each time he came and went over the course of two sets and three encores. (He didn't display as much gymnastic prowess, however, as the Webb sisters, who executed dual handstands early on during the dystopian "The Future," signaling that the marathon show to come was going to be as playfully theatrical as it was satisfyingly serious-minded.)

"So much of the world is plunged in chaos and suffering, it's remarkable that we have the opportunity to gather in places like this," Cohen said before "Anthem." And he may or may not have had the Liberty Bell in mind when he found hope in the idea that "there's a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in."

For a guy known first and foremost as a lyricist, Cohen pays acute attention to every acoustic detail. Every song got its due, and every Hammond B-3 or sax solo - from Larsen and multi-instrumentalist Dino Soldo, respectively - came through as crystal clear as the vocals.

One of Cohen's specialties has always been writing words that are about music - music as a source of spiritual sustenance without which the soul will wither and die. "But then, you don't really care for music, do you?" he sang in "Hallelujah," issuing the ultimate put-down in a blood-and-guts version that contrasted gravely with Jeff Buckley's ethereal cover.

In Cohen's apocalyptic encore of "First We Take Manhattan," he indicated his narrator's deprived state by asking: "Remember me, I used to live for music?" And in "Chelsea Hotel No. 2," he got a big laugh for rhyming "you told me again you preferred handsome men, but for me you would make an exception." But then he cut to the song's core by singing about the gift he was giving to his reverential audience at that very moment: "We are ugly," he sang, in an unpretty voice. "But we have the music."
Opera House/Manchester, UK June 19th, 2008, Beacon Theatre/New York City Feb 19th, 2009, Academy of Music/Philadelphia May 12th, 2009, Webb Sisters/Webster Hall, NYC May 15th, 2009, Tower Theater/Philadelphia, Oct 22nd, 2009
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Re: CONCERT REPORT: Philadelphia, May 12

Post by sturgess66 » Wed May 13, 2009 11:19 pm

A video I took last night at this amazing show - the closing moments - "Wither Thou Goest."
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Re: CONCERT REPORT: Philadelphia, May 12

Post by ladydi » Wed May 13, 2009 11:40 pm

Thank you Linda SO much for sharing your video with us! I'm sitting here in tears all over again. Happens at every concert when it comes to this gentle song, the genuine closeness of everyone on stage, Leonard's graciousness in thanking everyone possible, and then his lovely moving benediction. Now I can watch it anytime...and cry. But the tears are of joy and thankfulness! :D We are so fortunate to be alive at the same moment in time as Leonard Cohen.

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Re: CONCERT REPORT: Philadelphia, May 12

Post by sturgess66 » Wed May 13, 2009 11:51 pm

Thanks Diana! I hesitated putting it on Vimeo because it was shaky. You may have encouraged me to put up more - shaky though they may be. But - they are, after all, fan videos. A photographer I am not. :)

Such a wonderful show last night. The best of the best!
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Re: CONCERT REPORT: Philadelphia, May 12

Post by Dumbjaw » Thu May 14, 2009 2:12 am

Due to a series of fairly incredible events, I managed to secure two front row center seats on the floor for face value.

I can't even begin to explain anything about last night; only that I was honored to be a guest.

P.S. - Exchanging a smile from seat-to-stage with Charley Webb was a personal high point, and worth the elbow to the rib that I earned from my very tolerant girlfriend.
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Re: CONCERT REPORT: Philadelphia, May 12

Post by sturgess66 » Thu May 14, 2009 11:29 pm

I uploaded another video I took from the Philadelphia concert - "I Tried to Leave You" - where Leonard highlights solos from his wonderful band members. I put it on both YouTube and it Vimeo:

I also uploaded "Wither Thou Goest" to YouTube (I put it on Vimeo yesterday and that link is above).

Once again - a bit shaky. I was sitting in the front row of the first balcony (AA) and had a railing in front of me so I had the choice of holding my (sort of heavy ) camera up high, or trying to video through the railing. I opted not to lean forward onto the railing because I did not want to obstruct others' view. My arms were aching! :lol: I may have more video worth uploading - will check later. :roll: I hope the videos will bring back good memories to people who attended this wonderful concert.

If there is another thread where people put fan videos, could someone point me in the right direction. I thought I had once seen one at the forum?

By the way - someone who goes by the screen name of "yoadrienne" on YouTube captured excellent audio (picture is not so great but what the hey!) of Javier Mas's the beautiful solo in "Who By Fire" (from the concert on May 11th) - and put it on YouTube earlier today - here:

Linda :D
Last edited by sturgess66 on Sun May 24, 2009 11:30 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: CONCERT REPORT: Philadelphia, May 12

Post by bridger15 » Fri May 15, 2009 9:14 am

I'm Your Fan: An evening with Leonard Cohen
Friday, May 15, 2009
By Tony Norman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
At 74, Leonard Norman Cohen, formerly of Montreal, was a lot spryer than he had a right to be as he sprinted to the stage of Philadelphia's Academy of Music on Tuesday night.

For the nearly three hours he was on stage, Leonard Cohen cut an impossibly elegant figure in his dark pin-striped suit and fedora. He didn't wear a tie, but that was about as loose as it got during two meticulous sets separated by an intermission.

Doffing his hat and bowing deeply to acknowledge the standing ovation he earned simply for showing up with his six musicians and three backup singers, he looked like a man capable of promising a miracle and delivering it. Throughout the night, the creases around his mouth gave way to smiles and an impishness not characteristic of his music.

As the proud owner of a $179 ticket purchased at the box office shortly before the show sold out, my flirtation with buyer's remorse vanished as soon as Leonard Cohen and his ensemble launched into a note-perfect rendition of "Dance Me To The End of Love."

Though just as esteemed, if not as prolific, a songwriter as Bob Dylan, his legendary cohort in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Mr. Cohen operates on a much higher level when it comes to fulfilling audience expectations. On any given night, Dylan is notorious for fluctuating wildly between poles of indifference and utter brilliance.

Because Mr. Cohen tours less frequently -- this is his first world tour in 15 years -- he is far more conscientious about what happens on stage, down to the scripted monologue and instrumental solos by his peerless backup musicians. His deep, sometime craggy baritone may sound like something echoing through a crypt, but he always manages to hit the low notes, even if they're buried in a grave.

Having dished out nearly $200 between a ticket and a modest dinner in Center City, no one was more relieved than I was that Leonard Cohen had not come to Philadelphia to "do a Dylan."

As much as I love Bob Dylan, I haven't been to one of his shows in years. I shudder to think what I would have missed had I not driven the length of the Pennsylvania Turnpike to catch Leonard Cohen a few days ago. If it wasn't the best concert I've ever seen, it is definitely in the top three.

In retrospect, it seems crass to have ever doubted it would be. It would have been worth twice what I paid.

At the box office window, an elderly, well-dressed woman with blond hair tapped me on the shoulder after hearing my complaints about the cost of tickets. "The Leonard Cohen fan club is meeting downstairs," she said, assuring me that I was welcome to rub shoulders with members of the band if I wanted to.

Flashing my reporter's pad, I thanked her for the tip and followed her past ushers checking for credentials to the meet-and-greet. Thanks to my unexpected patron, no one questioned my presence. After formally introducing myself on the way, she returned the favor. "I'm Leonard's sister, Esther," she said with a smile.

I was startled and delighted. She politely ignored my request for a few quotes. Thirty minutes before her brother's triumphant return to the stage in Philadelphia, she had better things to do than deal with boring variations on questions she's been asked for decades.

Michelle Grimaldi, a former wardrobe assistant now responsible for getting the band on stage on time spared me the embarrassment of walking up to world-class musicians and asking who they were. She introduced me to drummer and percussionist Rafael Bernardo Gayol, the band's musical director and bassist Roscoe Beck and wind instrumentalist and keyboard player Dino Soldo.

While I discreetly scanned the room for Sharon Robinson, Leonard Cohen's co-writer, collaborator and chief backup singer of recent years, Dino Soldo explained the band's creative process.

"I let Leonard sell the songs," Mr. Soldo said of their intricate dance on stage. "I bring whatever I think the songs need," he said, contradicting my assumption that there is very little room for improvisation in such a tightly choreographed show. "What I do is 80 percent improvisation," he said. "Javier Mas [the band's 12-string guitarist and banduria player] is mostly improv. Sure, the skeleton remains the same, but the context changes every night."

After posing for group pictures with fans, Ms. Grimaldi corralled the musicians. No chance of a meeting with Leonard Cohen himself, she said.

I had to ask. I had been lucky so far.

I already had the best seats in the house by the time Terry Gross, the host of National Public Radio's "Fresh Air," sat down three seats down the row. Trim and elegant, she was wearing a short, black leather jacket. I struck up a conversation, though I was initially startled by how much she didn't sound like her radio persona.

We talked about the media's troubles and public radio as our row filled with various Philly glitterati. Ms. Gross is as big a Leonard Cohen fan as I am and said she'd taken a day off from "Fresh Air" to get ready for the concert.

A Portuguese model sat to my left and another well-dressed, beautiful woman who smelled like jasmine sat on my right. I couldn't believe it. It's amazing how much luck $179 plus a $2 handling fee can buy.

Esther Cohen joined our row and sat next to Terry Gross, who had no idea who she was. Esther didn't know who she was, either. I thought it would have been a wee bit presumptuous for me to introduce them.

When the lights dimmed and Leonard Cohen ran to the stage, everyone jumped to their feet. All of a sudden, it felt very democratic in that room full of well-off people.

Leonard Cohen kneeled and danced a little soft-shoe but he never broke into a sweat. He covered the microphone with his left hand and closed his eyes as he ran through his signature songs like a man in the midst of leisurely prayer. He never dabbed his forehead with a handkerchief or tipped a water bottle to his lips.

Between the songs and the cheers, you could hear a pin drop. My hometown had never felt so holy.

Tony Norman can be reached at or 412-263-1631. More articles by this author
First published on May 15, 2009 at 12:00 am
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Re: CONCERT REPORT: Philadelphia, May 12

Post by sturgess66 » Fri May 15, 2009 7:25 pm

A clip of Democracy from the Philadelphia show.

I have video of the whole of "Famous Blue Raincoat" and "If It Be Your Will." I was so hoping that someone would put up a video of "If It Be Your Will" from Tuesday night - the beautiful unfolding of the song - to quote Leonard Cohen - by Neil Larsen and The Webb Sisters - and then discovered that I have it all. The only problem is that I have both those songs as one long video and it is 12 minutes - 2 minutes too long for YouTube. I tried splitting it using Google Picasa but it didn't seem to work. Maybe I will figure it out.

Anyone know of any free software download that is good for splitting video? I think there would be no problem putting the whole thing on Vimeo - but I would rather separate the songs.

btw bridger - thanks for the article above - another good one!
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