Video: Leonard Cohen & The Lip-synching Lennettes Perform Take This Waltz – Norwegian TV, Feb 13, 1988

This is another iteration of the 1988 promotions Leonard Cohen made with backup singers, usually anonymous stand-ins, lip-synching his songs on TV in France, Germany, Belgium, and other European countries. Other videos of thee promotions can be viewed at

Thanks to Maria Cohen Viana, who alerted me to this video

Orphan Leonard Cohen Concerts: 1988 Binéfar Show – Civic Pride, Regional Rivalries, & Empty Seats

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Binéfar & The 1988 Leonard Cohen Tour

How did a Spanish town half the size of Madison Square Garden land a Leonard Cohen show?

Binéfar is not the kind of place one would expect to find on a Leonard Cohen Tour. The entire Wikipedia entry for Binéfar, Spain follows:

Binéfar (Spanish: [biˈnefar]) is a municipality located in the province of Huesca, Aragon, Spain. According to the 2008 census (INE), the municipality has a population of 9,288 inhabitants.1 It is probably best known for the children’s theatre group “Los Titiriteros de Binéfar”.

Nonetheless, on June 11, 1988, Leonard Cohen did indeed perform in Binéfar (although some of the 4,000 seats in the venue were empty). How the show came to be scheduled, then became the center of a politico-social maelstrom, and finally transformed into an abiding element of the region’s musical and cultural heritage makes for an intriguing tale. It was, however a tale that couldn’t be told until a few months ago.

Except for its listing in Jim Devlin’s Is This What You Wanted and CohenLive.com as “1988/06/11 Huesca, Espana – (unknown venue)” and the occasional mention in a blog or forum by someone who attended the show,2 little was documented about this event until 2013. Then, on Jan 15, 2013, 25 años de Leonard Cohen en Binéfar was posted at Somos Litera (Update: No longer online):

This year marks twenty-five years one of the most important musical acontecimeintos history Binéfar. In 1988, Leonard Cohen included the town literana on tour in Spain. That June has been in the memory of many people who could enjoy one of the living legends of the music of our time. In Litera We are working on an extensive report on this unprecedented milestone. (Photo: Jaume Josa) [via Google Translate]

An Extensive Report On This Unprecedented Milestone

And, indeed, on the 25th anniversary of the concert, the “extensive report” promised in that original post manifested itself as two articles published in the June 2013 issue of Somos Litera (pp 78-80) that also offers the one other photo of this show I’ve discovered.

Thanks to the translation skills of Coco Éclair, I have composed a summary of the articles in English. Note: This is not a word per word translation but a summary of the approximated text stylized into English vernacular. We have tried to remain faithful to the original content – including points and interpretations with which we might disagree and which we have no way of confirming. As a convenience to readers, screen captures of the articles have been placed at the top of the respective summaries.

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An Unlikely Concert And A Milestone

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  1. By way of comparison, Madison Square Garden in New York, a Leonard Cohen venue in 2012, has a capacity of 18,000. []
  2. For example, María Jesús Lamora (Blog antiguo) []

Photos: Leonard Cohen In Concert – Reykjavik 1988

These photos were taken by Johann Agust Hansen, then a freelance press photographer, at the June 24 1988 Leonard Cohen concert in Reykjavik, Iceland. (See 1988 Leonard Cohen Icelandic TV Documentary – Performances & Interview)

Johann Agust Hansen writes:

I was very lucky to be accepted as a press photographer for the Reykjavik 1988 concert. I had just started working as a freelance press photographer selling my photos to the local newspapers.

It was a great concert where Cohen played songs from his newly released album I’m Your Man. The playlist included songs such as First We Take Manhattan and Take This Waltz but he also played older songs such as Bird On a Wire, Sisters of Mercy, Hallelujah, Susanne, So Long Marianne and Famous Blue raincoat.

In the beginning of the concert, all the photographers, five or six of us, were ushered to the area in front of the stage. Cohen started with the song Dance Me to the End of Love, a quiet song which set the mood that I hoped to capture. We were only allowed to take photos during the first three songs so there was not much time and every photographer wanted to be as close to him as possible. My favourite photo from the show is the one where Cohen closes his eyes because I could feel his sincerity and strong emotion through my lens.

Now Online: 1988 Leonard Cohen Icelandic TV Documentary – Performances & Interview

Icelandic National Broadcasting Service’s 1988 Leonard Cohen documentary, featuring interviews and selections from Leonard Cohen’s June 24, 1988 Reykjavik concert, has been a now you see it, now you don’t online phenomenon. Gordana Stupar alerts us that we are currently in a now you see it state – but only until Sept 1, 2017.

Here’s why you need to see this video:  First of all, the 1988 Reykjavik concert was one of Leonard Cohen’s most moving performances. I was so taken with that show’s rendition of Hallelujah that I created Video: Leonard Cohen’s Gorgeous Performance Of Hallelujah – Reykjavik 1988 when an earlier online iteration evaporated. I had also ranked the recording of The Partisan from that show as my favorite live version of the song. An interview with Hrafn Gunnlaugsson, including a discussion of Leonard’s visit to the hot springs and Leonard’s secularized Hallelujah as well as an Icelandic cover of that song, is integrated alongside the performance clips.

Songs:and stage business from the concert that are featured in the documentary follow:

  • Joan Of Arc featuring Julie Christensen
  • Dance Me To The End Of Love
  • Hallelujah
  • Stranger Song
  • Like A Bird On The Wire
  • Suzanne
  • The Partisan
  • So Long Marianne
  • The Fake Stage Exit Before Encores
  • Take This Waltz with Introduction Invoking Lorca

The documentary can be viewed at Leonard Cohen 1988 Reykjavik Documentary.

Hear (Almost) Complete 1988 Leonard Cohen Royal Albert Hall Concert

On May 30, 1988, Leonard Cohen gave the first of three consecutive sold out concerts at the Royal Albert Hall. The BBC recorded the concert (from their own soundboard) but did not broadcast it. That audio-only recording later surfaced as this outstanding bootleg. Now, it has appeared on YouTube. Missing from the concert’s original set list is Avalanche” (performed before “Chelsea Hotel” in the show) and the final fragment of “Hallelujah.”

More about this bootleg recording is available at Best Bootlegs: Leonard Cohen Live At Royal Albert Hall 1988

Setlist

– Dance Me To The End Of Love;
– Ain’t No Cure For Love;
– Who By Fire;
– Bird On The Wire;
– I’m Your Man;
– Sisters Of Mercy;
– Coming Back To You;
– First We Take Manhattan;
– Chelsea Hotel #2;
– Tower Of Song;
– The Stranger Song;
– If It Be Your Will;
– Everybody Knows;
– Joan Of Arc;
– Hallelujah;
– There Is A War;
– Take This Waltz;
– The Partisan;
– Suzanne;
– Passin’ Through;
– I Tried To Leave You;
– Whither Thou Goest;
– So Long, Marianne.

Leonard Cohen Toronto Radio Broadcast 1988 – Another Unauthorized CD

Dominique BOILE has spotted yet another bootleg (on the UK Amazon site & French Amazon site, among several online retail outlets) of that same November 9, 1988 concert at Massey Hall in Toronto, broadcast live on CBC radio and rebroadcast on March 11, 1990. For more information about and other bootlegs of this broadcast, see