“An object lesson in performance manners.” Franz Nicolay On Leonard Cohen At Coachella – 2009

Cohen’s Coachella Performance From Another Perspective

I don’t follow PunkNews.org as well as perhaps I should. Aubin introduces the April 30, 2009 entry, Dispatches: Franz Nicolay: Episode 1: “Today, we’ve got a brand new set of tour diaries coming from Franz Nicolay, multi-instrumentalist and member of The Hold Steady and World/Inferno Friendship Society. In the pertinent section of the post, Nicolay describes his experiences at Coachella, where The Hold Steady played earlier the same day (April 17, 2009) that Leonard Cohen, Morrissey, and Paul McCartney performed.

Nicolay On Morrissey And McCartney At Coachella

In the tour diary itself Nicolay proves himself no sycophant, opening his report of Morrissey’s performance, for example, with this unambiguous line:

So it pains me to report … that Morrissey, who played next on the main stage, was, and I wish I could come up with a more eloquent way to put this, a pissy little bitch.

And about the headliner, Paul McCartney, Nicolay’s full report is contained in two brief paragraphs:

On my way to the stage for Cohen’s set, I was stopped by a security guard, as a motorcade of black Escalades pulled up to a gate. While we waited on the sidewalk, out stepped Paul McCartney, in a baggy grey suit. And red sneakers.

Which I suppose is the kind of thing the richest entertainer in the world can get away with, though two and a half hours of McCartney was an adult dose. For a guy worth half a billion dollars it was an admirably simple stage show (especially the ukulele take on “Something”). Except for the flash-pots and fireworks deployed for “Live And Let Die”: a subtle display of the kind of fuck-you money that brings a full pyro setup for one song.

Franz Nicolay On Leonard Cohen At Coachella:
“A more gracious performance I’ve never seen”

On that topic – the ridiculous to the sublime, the snowy to the sun-baked, or something to that effect – we played the giant Coachella festival in a desert polo grounds in southern California … and I saw an object lesson in performance manners. Perhaps you’ve heard that Leonard Cohen recently suffered a severe financial setback. He spent six years studying in a Zen monastery, during which time he left his affairs in the hands of a personal manager – who took him for five million dollars, essentially his life savings. So, at 74, he’s back on the road, and a more gracious performance I’ve never seen. All ten or twenty thousand people waiting for him on a second stage, waited in a hushed silence, like a church service. And indeed, one of the notable details was that this was the quietest PA sound I’ve ever seen at a festival show, so the religious atmosphere held, up to a really chilling mass singalong to “Hallelujah”. One detail that really pleased me was that, every time a member of the band took a solo, he removed his fedora and held it over his heart for the duration, as a gesture of respect.

The first set of entertaining and instructional dispatches from Nicolay’s tour diary can be found at Dispatches: Franz Nicolay: Episode 1

Other Leonard Cohen At Coachella Posts:

Credit Due Department: Photo atop post by David Telford from London, UK – franz nicolayUploaded by Snowmanradio, CC BY-SA 2.0, Link. Leonard Cohen photo by Fred von Lohmann

Originally posted May 2, 2009 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric