Best Bootlegs: Leonard Cohen Live At Royal Albert Hall 1988

Because I may not know music, but I know what you should like
lclondonfrf… and where to find it

BBC Records Leonard Cohen 1988 London Show

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 recording later surfaced as this outstanding bootleg.

To place this show in context, the Cohen album, “I’m Your Man” was released April 19, 1988. “Famous Blue Raincoat,” the Jennifer Warnes album  that was instrumental in extending Cohen’s audience, was released November 1986,  Cohen’s next album, “The Future,” would not be issued until  November 24, 1992.

The photo below is from January 1988. 1

Leonard Cohen 1988, photo by Roland Godefroy

Much of the tracklist (see below) comprises songs played during the 2008-2009 Leonard Cohen World Tour. This makes for interesting comparisons. The lyrics and arrangements of many of the songs (e.g., “Everybody Knows”) have shifted and Cohen, in 1988, seems suspended between the younger, more confrontational Leonard Cohen, who once walked off the stage during a concert and sometimes engaged in arguments with audience members, and his current incarnation as diplomatic icon.


01 Dance Me To The End Of Love
02 Ain’t No Cure For Love
03 Who By Fire
04 Bird On The Wire
05 I’m Your Man
06 Sisters Of Mercy
07 Coming Back To You
08 First We Take Manhattan
09 Chelsea Hotel
10 Tower Of Song
11 The Stranger Song
12 If It Be Your Will
13 Everybody Knows
14 Joan Of Arc
15 Hallelujah
16 There Is A War
17 Take This Waltz
18 The Partisan
19 Suzanne
20 Passin’ Through

21 I Tried To Leave You
22 Whither Thou Goest
23 So Long, Marianne

Missing from the concert’s original set list is Avalanche” (performed before “Chelsea Hotel” in the show) and the final fragment of  “Hallelujah.”  The remainder of the concert, however, is intact on this recording as are the song  introductions.


Leonard Cohen – vocals, acoustic guitar, keyboards
Perla Batalla – vocals
Julie Christensen – vocals
Bob Metzger – guitars, steel guitar
John Bilezikjian – oud
Bob Furgo – keyboards, violin
Tom McMorran – keyboards
Steve Zirkel – bass, keyboard, trumpet
Steve Meador – drums, electric drums

Download Leonard Cohen At Royal Albert Hall 1988

The Files:

Sound quality is rated “Very Good.” The recording is stereo and the 320 kbps MP3 files are available for download directly from the site, thus avoiding the need to enter codes, decompress the files, or deal with the hassles of services such as Rapidshare. The files are also tagged (correctly, as far as I can determine) with the name of the song, the artist, and “Leonard Cohen – London 1988” listed as the album name. Only the cover art, available on site, need be added post-download.

The artwork incorporates my own home-brewed graphic (shown below) created in 2009 when this bootleg was available from a different site but lacked cover art.

This bootleg can be downloaded at Roio – Leonard Cohen – London 1988


Note: The description of this download was originally posted Dec 24, 2009 at, a predecessor of Cohencentric


  1. Does the 1988 photo of Leonard Cohen remind anyone else of Mickey Rourke in Diner (middle photo) and in 9 1/2 Weeks (right)?