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.

“I came away from the Dylan show just glad to have seen a legend …. I came away from the Cohen show with a huge smile … chattering happily about how it was the best show we’ve ever seen.”

I came away from the Dylan show just glad to have seen a legend, but wondering if maybe he could have done more to win me over. That’s what a performer is. I came away from the Cohen show with a huge smile on my face, my wife and I chattering happily about how it was the best show we’ve ever seen.

Literary Pursuits: One For the Money, Two For the Show : posted May 27, 2008 by Gerard Collins at Literary Pursuits. This is a thoughtful, intelligent, careful, and respectful comparison of the 2008 Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen concerts in St. John’s that rings true. Just outstanding. Photo by Eugene McLaughlin.

Note: Originally posted May 28, 2008 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“[Leonard Cohen] was in fantastic form, his voice still golden gravel” – Chicago 2009

Both the caption, “[Leonard Cohen] was in fantastic form, his voice still golden gravel,” and the outstanding photo of the Chicago Theatre marquee announcing “An Evening With Leonard Cohen” on May 5, 2009 are the work of natesmobile. Originally posted Feb 11, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Photo: Leonard Cohen Biting – Oct 31 2009; Asheville, NC

Pictured above with Leonard is Michelle Grimaldi, Production Assistant on the 2009 tour. She writes:

Asheville, NC. We had a couple days off before the gig so we had a Halloween party! It was a great night. Great tour. Great friendship. Great memories. Gutted. Oct 31 2009

Thanks to Greta Bertella, who alerted me to this photo

Signs Of Leonard Cohen: The Magnificent Minneapolis Marquee 2009

The May 3, 2009 Leonard Cohen Concert At The Minneapolis Orpheum Theatre

Any ongoing reader who has been paying attention knows of my fondness for marquees. And this specimen on the Minneapolis Orpheum Theatre is beautiful; it’s unrepentantly gaudy, vertigo-inducing, and so outsized that the theatre’s primarily architectural function appears to be serving as a base for this spectacular signage.

This set of three pristine photos by vwvortexer (please do not repost without photographer’s permission) advertising the May 3, 2009 Leonard Cohen show is not only impressive in quality but also includes a rarely seen perspective of the entire theater facade in the third photo

Note: Originally posted Jan 16, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric