“[From 2008 to 2013] the previously stage-wary Cohen played 387 shows to more than 2 million people.” Alan Light On The Origin & Success Of Leonard Cohen’s Final Tours

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In 2005, it was discovered that Leonard Cohen’s longtime manager, Kelley Lynch, had embezzled more than $5 million from the 71-year-old’s accounts, while also surreptitiously selling many of Cohen’s publishing rights. In the previous decade, Cohen mostly had been residing in a Zen monastery and had released only two albums—2001’s Ten New Songs and 2004’s Dear Heather, neither of which reached the top 100 on the chart. To pursue his case against Lynch, Cohen ultimately had to take out a new mortgage on his Los Angeles home. So on the heels of his induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007, the singer-songwriter announced that he was going to generate some income the old-fashioned way—by going back on tour after 15 years off the stage. ‘Leonard was very reluctant at first,’ says his manager, Robert Kory. ‘From his view, touring had always been a disaster—he would say, ‘Performing is an opportunity for a thousand humiliations.’ His hand forced, Cohen assembled a band (three backup singers, two guitarists, drummer, keyboardist, bassist and saxophonist, later replaced by a violinist) and rehearsed for a full three months, followed by a series of unadvertised preview dates in Canada, beginning May 11, 2008, at the 709-seat Playhouse in Fredericton, New Brunswick. During the next five years, selling out bigger and bigger stages, Cohen’s touring would propel his career to heights he had never seen since emerging as one of the most important songwriters of the 1960s. Between a lengthy run from 2008 to 2010, which included triumphant appearances at Coachella and Glastonbury, and then a shorter leg in 2012 and 2013, the previously stage-wary Cohen played 387 shows to more than 2 million people.quotedown2

Alan Light

 

Information about the financial success of these tours is available at 2008-2013 Leonard Cohen Tour Revenues.

From Remembering Leonard Cohen: Close Friends, Collaborators & Critics on How He Changed Music Forever by Sasha Frere-Jones (Billboard: November 17, 2016). Photo by J. Gordon Anderson.

DrHGuy Note: Alan Light is the author of The Holy or the Broken: Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley, and the Unlikely Ascent of “Hallelujah”

“Walking on stage and having thousands of people immediately convulse with emotion – that feeling didn’t go away, I just learned to manage it.” Charley Webb On Leonard Cohen’s 2008 Fredericton Show

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We were all standing in a line to go on stage in this tiny theatre in [Fredericton] Canada, which was rammed to the rafters with clearly diehard Leonard fans. Sharon, Hattie and me walked on with [Leonard Cohen] and, yeah, his hands behind his back were shaking. He talked briefly about it being, ‘A few years, friends,’ and the place just exploded. I was completely taken aback because I’d never experienced that sort of physical reaction before. I had to compose myself to sing ‘Dance Me To The End Of Love.’ Walking on stage and having thousands of people immediately convulse with emotion – that feeling didn’t go away, I just learned to manage it.quotedown2

Charley Webb

Quotation from Happy Birthday, Leonard Cohen by Abby Steward. Hot Press: Sept 2017. Photos by J. Gordon Anderson.

A remarkably similar description of the Fredericton show from a different perspective can be found at “The roar of the [2008 Fredericton] crowd was… ferocious adoration… Up until that moment it was just another job to me.” Leif Bodnarchuk On Working For Leonard Cohen.

More about the Fredericton concert can be accessed at In The Beginning … Photos & Videos Of Leonard Cohen’s First 2008-2013 Tour Show: Fredericton, May 11, 2008.

“The roar of the [2008 Fredericton] crowd was… ferocious adoration… Up until that moment it was just another job to me.” Leif Bodnarchuk On Working For Leonard Cohen

Your experience of working with him

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In 2008 the tour was savage. Even by the final rehearsal in S.I.R., nerves were frayed. But the very first gig in Fredericton was special, and set the tone for the challenges ahead. Leonard took to the stage for the first time in years, and the roar of the crowd was… I don’t know… ferocious adoration. Deafening like a jet engine, warm like a campfire. Up until that moment it was just another job to me, but that reception made me realise how much pressure we’d be under to help Leonard live up to the expectations put on him.quotedown2

Leif Bodnarchuk

 

Leif Bodnarchuk served as guitar technician on the 2008-2013 Leonard Cohen tours.

From Leonard Cohen – a few memories by Leif Bodnarchuk (Leif Bodnarchuk: Nov 16, 2016). Photo taken at the Sept 20, 2013 Leonard Cohen Amsterdam Concert by Leif Bodnarchuk.

Update: A remarkably similar description of the Fredericton show from a different perspective can be found at Charley Webb On Leonard Cohen’s 2008 Fredericton Show.

Find more about the Fredericton concert at In The Beginning … Photos & Videos Of Leonard Cohen’s First 2008-2013 Tour Show: Fredericton, May 11, 2008.

In The Beginning … Photos & Videos Of Leonard Cohen’s First 2008-2013 Tour Show: Fredericton, May 11, 2008

Ending a 15-year retirement from touring, Leonard Cohen went back on the road, opening his 2008-2010 World Tour1 at the Fredericton, New Brunswick Playhouse on May 11, 2008. Cohencentric is celebrating this event with a set of brilliant photos from the concert and videos of Leonard’s first song at that show and his welcoming words to the audience.

Note: Those interested in why the 2008 Tour opened at a venue with a seating capacity of 709 in a city with a population (in 2005) of just over 50,000 can investigate the issue at Why The 2008-2013 Leonard Cohen World Tours Opened In Fredericton, NB.

Photo Gallery

These brilliant photos of Leonard Cohen and his musicians were taken at the 2008 Fredericton show by J. Gordon Anderson.

 

“This is the first time I’ve done this in 14 years. I was 60 years old the last time – just a kid with a crazy dream.” – The Leonard Cohen Monologue

While these videos are suboptimal, their historic value and their evocation of the essence of what was to become Leonard Cohen’s performance style in his final tours reward viewing.

Leonard Cohen Talks To Audience
Fredericton: May 11, 2008
Video from RansomNoteMusic

The First Song Of The First Set Of The First Concert Of The First 2008-2013 Leonard Cohen Tour – Dance Me To The End Of Love

Leonard Cohen – Dance Me To The End Of Love
Fredericton: May 11, 2008
Video from RansomNoteMusic

Credit Due Department: Photos of Leonard Cohen and his musicians by J. Gordon Anderson. Photo of Playhouse by Rbcb – Own work, CC by 3.0. via Wikipedia.

Note: All posts about this concert are collected at

Originally posted Jan 19, 2011 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric
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  1. Of course, at the time no one knew it would be a three year tour, let alone that it would be followed by tours in 2012 and 2013 []

Asked & Answered: Why The 2008-2013 Leonard Cohen World Tours Opened In Fredericton, NB

On May 11, 2008, Leonard Cohen inaugurated his 2008-2010 World Tour1 at The Playhouse, a venue with a seating capacity of 709, in the city of Fredericton, New Brunswick, which, in 2005, had a population of just over 50,000.

Update: See In The Beginning … Photos & Videos Of Leonard Cohen’s First 2008-2013 Tour Show: Fredericton, May 11, 2008.

So, why would the first Cohen concerts (the other stops on the first leg of the Tour included Glace Bay, Halifax, Charlottetown, Moncton and St. John’s) take place in a relatively isolated geographic area and in much smaller venues than those already scheduled at later dates (e.g., Toronto, Dublin, Manchester, Montreal, Oslo, Amsterdam, Rome)?

Why Fredericton?

Well, in a March 14, 2008 post, I noted that it was difficult to distinguish between the first 2008 Cohen Tour concert sites and the sort of parody I might have published. A couple of months later, I listed …

Possible Reasons Why Leonard Cohen’s Tour Begins In Fredericton

  • Leonard Cohen lost a bet.
  • The tour really is a DrHGuy parody that got way out of hand.
  • Cohen’s booking agent is from Fredericton and he wanted to make sure the girl who wouldn’t go to prom with him realized what she had missed out on.
  • Cohen scheduled Fredericton and similar tour stops just to mess with DrHGuy’s head.
  • “Fredericton, NB” is Canadian for “Chicago, IL.”
  • A longstanding Fredericton closing time tradition has it that the women tear their blouses off & and the men they dance on the polka-dots.

My official Best Guess, however, was that the Cohen Tour opened in Eastern Canada for the same reason a musical comedy opens off-Broadway or in the Poconos – to work out the kinks and polish the performance before moving it to Broadway – or to bigger stadiums, i.e., Fredericton was Leonard Cohen’s off-Broadway.

Now, a lot of folks thought these speculations were pretty darn funny although a significant minority were, well, let’s go with strident in their objections. On the other hand, my blog had never before received so many views from the Maritime provinces.

Note: The above material was originally posted May 10, 2008 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Let’s jump ahead to Nov 28, 2008, when I posted Revisiting Why The 2008 Leonard Cohen World Tour Opened In Fredericton:

The following is an excerpt from an interview with AEG concert promoter Rob Hallett,2 who played a significant role in making the current Leonard Cohen Tour a reality:3

[Interviewer:] Leonard Cohen is finishing his UK arena tour – how did you talk him out of retirement?

[Hallett:] It took some time. Leonard was trying to make some of the money back that had been stolen. [Cohen’s manager stole $9.5m (£6.2m) in the 1990s.] At first he said, ‘I don’t know if anyone wants to see me. You must be joking’. We went back and forth over a couple of years. In the end, I offered to finance the rehearsals and said, ‘we’ll do some warm-up dates in Canada, and lets see what we’ve got’. So we were about $3m (£2m) in and 16 shows in Canada and we knew that we had a monster on our hands. When I first put an O2 show on sale everyone said, ‘what? Leonard Cohen in the O2?’ And we sold out three. It’s been a fantastic success. Everyone who’s seen the show almost without fail is saying this is the best show they’ve ever seen in their lives. [emphasis mine]

Readers may recall that DrHGuy was criticized for hazarding, in Why The 2008 Leonard Cohen World Tour Is Opening In Fredericton (a post published the day before the first concert of the Tour) this guess:

… my bet is that the Cohen Tour opens in Eastern Canada for the same reason a musical comedy opens off-Broadway or in the Poconos – to work out the kinks and polish the performance before moving it to Broadway – or to bigger stadiums. Fredericton is Leonard Cohen’s off-Broadway.

DrHGuy submits that “warm-up dates in Canada” and “Fredericton is Leonard Cohen’s off-Broadway” are equivalent responses to the question, why did the 2008 Leonard Cohen World Tour open in Fredericton?

Ahem

Contrary to the old saying, some of us can take it and dish it out.4

Credit Due Department: Photo of Playhouse by Rbcb – Own work, CC by 3.0. via Wikipedia. Photo of city limits sign by Jimmy Emerson, DVM. Skyline photo of Fredericton by Knoxfordguy at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikipedia. Photo of Cohen & Hallett by J.S. Carenza III.

Note: All posts about this concert are collected at

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  1. Of course, at the time no one knew it would be a three year tour, let alone that it would be followed by tours in 2012 and 2013 []
  2. Bringing the stars to the stage by Ian Youngs (BBC News: , 27 November 2008) []
  3. Rob Hallett was also, according to the article, responsible for “stag[ing] Prince’s 21-night London run, … bringing Britney Spears to Britain, and taking Damon Albarn’s Monkey opera to China.” []
  4. DrHGuy notes that his supposition about the reasons behind the decision to begin the Cohen Tour in smaller venues is hardly an insult to Fredericton or the other towns in the first leg of the Tour. DrHGuy does, on occasion, indulge in hyperbole in hopes of achieving comedic effect and apologizes if that was not evident. In any case, given that DrHGuy resides in a town smaller than Fredericton and that he would be willing to cut off the right arms of numerous other inhabitants of this town if it would result in a Leonard Cohen concert being held here, the only negative he associates with Fredericton Canada is his own ill-concealed jealousy. []

Chef Naz – Leonard Cohen’s Caribbean Connection In Fredericton, New Brunswick

“Leonard Cohen, most humble soul I’ve ever met.” Chef Naz of Caribbean Flavas – Fredericton

On May 11, 2008, Leonard Cohen inaugurated his 2008-2010 World Tour (although no one knew it would be a three year tour, let alone be followed by tours in 2012 and 2013 then) at The Playhouse in Fredericton, NB, a venue that seated about 700.

During that trip, he was so impressed with a local restaurant, Caribbean Flavas, that he signed up owner, Chef Naz, to join the Unified Heart Touring Company on the road. As Chef Naz recounts it:

“He’s like, ‘okay I like this lunch … what are you doing for the rest of the week?”

It turns out that Chef Naz, who has catered to a number of music industry stars, was impressed with Leonard Cohen as well:

“He would sit with us, with us! The working folks…And eat, chat, make jokes. I’ve never seen that before.”

The full story can be found at Leonard Cohen’s return to the stage started with a flavourful stop in Fredericton by Jeremy Keefe. Global News Canada: Nov 11, 2016.

Best Of 2008-2010 Leonard Cohen World Tour: Who By Fire – Fredericton 2008

Fredericton Playhouse – Fredericton, New Brunswick

In The Beginning Was Fredericton

On May 11, 2008, Leonard Cohen inaugurated his 2008-2010 World Tour (although no one knew it would be a three year tour, let alone be followed by tours in 2012 and 2013 then) at The Playhouse in Fredericton, NB, a venue which, according to Wikipedia, had a capacity of 709 (469 orchestra seats and 240 balcony seats).

I urge viewers to read the best of the Fredericton concert reviews, Leonard Cohen wows Fredericton by Wilifred Langmaid  (Daily Gleaner, May 13, 2008), which can be found at LeonardCohenForum. My own comments on this piece, originally posted at the DrHGuy.com site on May 13, 2008, follow:

Wilifred Langmaid  provides a comprehensive, interesting review of Cohen’s performance at the Fredericton Playhouse. Other than some forgivable hometown self-congratulation, the piece is thoughtful, knowledgeable, and includes details not listed elsewhere. A must-read for hard core Cohen fans.

Leonard Cohen – Who By Fire
Fredericton – May 11, 2008

fedoradivider

Credit Due Department: Photo by Rbcb – Own work, CC by 3.0. via Wikipedia. Originally posted July 29, 2012 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“The energy and strength of Cohen was really the evening’s most pleasant surprise” Review Of First Concert Of Leonard Cohen’s 2008-2013 Tours

Fredericton Playhouse – Fredericton, New Brunswick

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It was the most unlikely of scenarios. Sony BMG artist Leonard Cohen had not been on tour in a decade-and-a-half, and he is almost 74. He announced a world tour in March, and that got worldwide attention. News that the tour would begin in small venues – and that the first stop would be Fredericton – was a minor miracle. The show sold out in minutes… The energy and strength of Cohen was really the evening’s most pleasant surprise. He was in fine voice all night long, and his enthusiasm never flagged over a 20-song performance. He admitted some nervousness after the warm response to his second track, quipping ‘I was kind of nervous. It’s the first time I’ve done this in 14 years. I was 60 years old the last time – just a kid with a crazy dream.’quotedown2


 

From Leonard Cohen Wows Fredericton by Wilfred Langmaid. The Daily Gleaner: May 13, 2008. The original post is no longer online, but a copy can be found at BookCrossing. This is a comprehensive, interesting, albeit understated review of the Fredericton Playhouse show that opened the triumphant 2008-2013 Leonard Cohen tours. Other than some forgivable hometown self-congratulation and an unnecessary use of the classic straw man tactic, the piece is thoughtful, knowledgeable, and includes details not listed elsewhere. A must-read for hard core Cohen fans.

Credit Due Department: Photo by Rbcb – Own work, CC by 3.0. via Wikipedia.