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.
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)?
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:
[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?
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 2008 Fredericton Show
- 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 [↩]
- Bringing the stars to the stage by Ian Youngs (BBC News: , 27 November 2008) [↩]
- 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.” [↩]
- 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. [↩]