The 2008 Leonard Cohen Dublin Concerts – Photos and (Gasp) Complaints

Leonard Cohen arrives on stage - Dublin 2008

The Dublin Concerts

Leonard Cohen just completed three concerts in Dublin.

Leonard Cohen on screen - Dublin 2008


The Audience Who’s Who

According to the June 16, 2008 Herald story, concert attendees at the three sold-out 10,000 seat venue included Bertie Ahern,1 Justice Minister Dermot Ahern, Gerry Adams,2 Bono and his wife Ali, U2 manager Paul McGuinness and his wife, and Gerry Ryan3 and his family.

Webb Sisters on tele - Dublin 2008

The Criticism

OK, everyone (really, everyone) seems to have been enthralled by Cohen’s performance. This excerpt from The Independent is characteristic:

The 23-song set list takes in all facets of his career with ‘The Future’, ‘Everybody Knows’ and ‘In My Secret Life’ leaving an indelible mark. ‘Tower of Song’ proves especially engaging, provoking mirth when he sings of aching “in the places where I used to play” and cheers with the line “I was blessed with a golden voice.” There’s reverential silence for ‘Suzanne’ — a song that he debuted 41 years ago, and which still retains its understated majesty. Clearly, he’s as delighted to be playing Dublin — as is the audience. After a spine-tingling spoken word version of ‘A Thousand Kisses Deep’ he’s fulsome in his gratitude. “It’s a great privilege to say a poem to you in this city of poets and singers.”

The Venue - Dublin 2008

Not everyone, however, was enthralled by the location. In the comments section of that same Independent article, for example, Esmeralda writes,

Disappointed with the low-class concert venue, plastic, slippery flooring, foldable chairs that you had to sit on in the pouring rain. Thank you to those entertaining dancers that defied the ridiculously strict stewards who forced you to sit down when you were waltzing to “Take This Waltz.” At least dancing could have kept us warm in the rain. Leonard Cohen is a class act, he is playing indoor concert halls, opera theaters, castle grounds in countries with more stable weather on the continent. Concert goers are willing to pay, but we want first class venues for giants of music and art like L. Cohen. When will there be a concert organiser in Ireland with some ethics?

The problem with big screens at concerts is you just look at the screens - Dublin 2008

And, in a forum dealing with performing environs, Forfismum observes

Good Lord, I thought that I had seen everything but……no. Yesterday went to see young Cohen in Dublin. The sound check did not start until 5 pm, the official time for the gates to open.The publicity for the gig at the Royal Hospital Dublin Royal Hospital Kilmainham: Conference Facilities for Conferences & Corporate Entertainment in Ireland boasted of a champagne bar, wine bar, Thai food etc all above the quality of the usual concerts, and we had looked forward to a nice picnic before the off at 7.15. We were at the entrance in a smashing setting at 5 and a queue started to form which built until 6.45, but the queue seemed to develop a mushroom head as new folks arrived. Not yer usual lowlifes like myself but “posh” and “artistic” plonkers who thought that queuing was for the dirty peasants and this was pathetic as the venue was all seats, no need to panic etc.

Anyway to the point. Halfway through Cohen’s performance the crowd from the back seats moved en masse into the two aisles leading to the stage. The security people did their best but were outnumbered and all they could do was hold the mob back. The police could not get in as they were at the back scratching their bums, I mean, who would expect crowd violence from a gang of old women fans of the venerable Leonard?

I am dead serious here folks, I have never seen such behaviour at concert before. Slipknot, Pixies, Radiohead, Muse, all full of teenagers and only the odd skirmish but this was scary. Crazed 50-70 year old women [and men] determined to see their God, but not in the way that kids worship bands, there was a fanatic aspect to it that i have never seen before. One of Irish radios top presenters was in our row with 4 kids and he was escorted our by a phalanx of security guys and we had mad bastards trying to climb over our seats and over us, as I said, scary. If you were to see these women in the shops you would think that they were harmless, that there was no danger but some form of mass hysteria seems to have taken over. The security boys and girls were magnificent in preventing a disaster, remember the Bradford fire? the Heysel [spelling] disaster? and other such events. The faces on some of these people and the eyes were frightening. Give me a mosh pit any day.

End of concert - Dublin 2008

There is an ongoing discussion on the pros and cons of the Dublin setting and the crowd, part of which can be found at

Credit Due Department: Photos (and most captions) are by Karl Smyth.

Originally posted June 16, 2008 at, a predecessor of Cohencentric


  1. Bartholomew Patrick “Bertie” Ahern (Irish: Parthalán Pádraig Ó hEachthairn, born 12 September 1951) is an Irish politician who served as Taoiseach of Ireland from 26 June 1997 to 7 May 2008. Ahern has been a Teachta Dála (TD) since 1977 and he represents the constituency of Dublin Central. He served in the governments of Charles Haughey and Albert Reynolds as Minister for Labour (1987–1991) and Minister for Finance (1991–1994). He also served briefly as Tánaiste after the break-up of Albert Reynolds’ coalition government. In 1994 he was elected sixth leader of Fianna Fáil. From Wikipedia []
  2. Gerry Adams: MP (Irish: Gearóid Mac Ádhaimh; born 6 October 1948) is an Irish Republican politician and abstentionist Westminster Member of Parliament for Belfast West. He is the president of Sinn Féin, which is the second largest political party in Northern Ireland and fourth largest party in the Republic of Ireland. Adams is credited with having played a pivotal role in helping to end the Troubles in Northern Ireland. His leadership and ability to communicate and negotiate with both paramilitary forces and also politicians such as John Hume and John Major was the catalyst that brought about the Good Friday Agreement. From the late 1980s, Adams was an important figure in the Northern Ireland peace process, initially following contact by the then Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) leader John Hume and subsequently with the Irish and British governments and then other parties. In 2005, the IRA indicated that its armed campaign was over and that it is now exclusively committed to democratic politics. Under Adams, Sinn Féin changed its traditional policy of abstentionism towards Oireachtas Éireann, the parliament of the Republic of Ireland, in 1986 and later took seats in the power-sharing Northern Ireland Assembly. However, Sinn Féin retains a policy of abstentionism towards the Westminster Parliament. From Wikipedia []
  3. Host of numerous TV and radio shows []