CONCERT REPORT: Fredericton, NB (May 11)

Canada and Europe (May 11 - August 3, 2008). Concert reports, set lists, photos, media coverage, multimedia links, recollections...
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Re: Fredericton gets ready

Postby upsofloating » Mon May 12, 2008 6:12 am

Second half isn't in the right order.

Dance Me to the End of Love
The future
Ain't No Cure for Love
Bird on a Wire
In My Secret Life
Everybody Knows
Who by Fire


Tower of Song
So Long, Marianne
Boogie Street
First We Take Manhattan
I'm Your Man
Take this Waltz
Closing Time

I think I'm missing two songs in there, maybe three.

Amazing show. Did strange renditions of Bird on a Wire and So Long, Marianne, but of which, in my opinion, did not transfer well to a newer style (sounded far too honky-tonk for me), but every other song was spot on perfect. Suzanne remained almost identical to the original recording, and Who By Fire was quite similar, too, but seemed extended (which is great because I love that song).

Overall, an almost too perfect night, great performance by Cohen, extremely witty, Zen, and gracious, and some great musicians working with him. Only thing that let me down was no Famous Blue Raincoat, and that So Long, Marianne and Bird on a Wire didn't work well.
"Dear child, I only did to you what the sparrow
did to you; I am old when it is fashionable to be
young; I cry when it is fashionable to laugh."

---Charles Bukowski
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Opening Night - Fredericton

Postby Steve Wilcox » Mon May 12, 2008 6:14 am

There are not many things that one can say they actually waited 17 years for (and I do appreciate that many have waited longer). But what can I say now? - except it was worth the wait.

I have been to many shows at this venue. I have never witnessed such an extensive stage-scape; the amount of equipment was incredible. Remember, each band member is a multi-instrumentalist. Leonard and band are touring with their own sound system and light show - not using the house equipment.

The house lights went down and the band members - all nine of them! - took to the stage. They'd practised every night and they were ready! All were wonderfully dressed with 7 of the nine wearing hats. The three ladies to the left, Neil Larsen (keyboards) on a riser behind them, Rafael Gayol (drums) center, Roscoe Beck (bass) slightly left of the drums, Bob Metzger right of the drums, Dino Soldo & Javier Mas on the right hand side of the stage.

With the band on stage, and tension and excitement building all the while - people knew the wait was almost over.

Then Leonard walked on stage - dressed in a suit and the hat we have seen him wearing in photos of late. He displayed physical vigour and confidence and a certainty about his mission - the audience immediately rose to its feet and began a 2 minute ovation. Leonard - who remarked in an interview a few short years ago that he didn't know if he would tour again because he didn't have a sense of there being enough interest in him or his career - looked like he felt justified. There was no longer any question about whether or not to tour.

Leonard spoke to the audience about recent flooding in the area and how nicely he has been received here. The band riffed quietly in the back ground. Leonard introduced the song, as he often does, by reciting a verse - this time in French - and the band broke into "Dance Me To The End Of Love". (please see a separate post for the complete set list).

The show was incredible. Leonard's voice was very very strong - rich and deep as usual but with a strength and power that showed complete command. As a reference point, I have been a professional musician for 30 years, and I can tell you these guys were bang on the money - no mistakes - no uncertainties in the arrangements. Roscoe Beck's position as musical director again resulted in the beautiful musical sparseness that Leonard's music requires such that vocals and lyrics are placed front-and-center. All band members' performances were notable even if their individual virtuosity was easily understated by the apparent ease with which they were doing it. But, through the evening, each member got their chance to shine and shine they did.

The Webb Sisters sang beautifully, their voices are well suited to the songs. Sharon was wonderful (no surprise there). Her voice is so powerful - as she demonstrated on the opening lines of "Boogie Street". The ladies formed 2 and 3 part harmonies amongst themselves, and each shared lines with just Leonard. Sharon got a greater share of that, especially on the songs she co-wrote with Leonard. Having three female backing vocalists, plus at least two of the guys singing, gave enough of a full choir effect to pull off the likes of "Anthem" and "Hallelujah".

Neil Larsen's Hammond B3 organ playing was an anchor for the entire evening. It gave many songs, like "Bird On A Wire" a southern gospel feel - and it worked. Javier Mas covered the oud and mandolin parts with his vast array of instruments. Bob Metzger switched to pedal steel for "Everybody Knows" and "Heart With No Companion".

"Gypsy Wife" was a real nice surprise (one of my favourites) and again Javier' flamenco playing, like on "Who By Fire", made the song.

Leonard opened the second set with just the three vocalists and organist Neil Larsen. Leonard pushed "start" on his Techniques keyboard and the five of them did "Tower Of Song". Leonard then picked up his nylon string guitar and, with the same members, did "Suzanne".

I was very impressed by the arrangement on "First We Take Manhattan" - Beck played the synthesizer bass line on bass guitar(!) maintaining the Euro-dance feel while the Hammond B3 gave the song an edgier heavier rock sound. The backing vocals formed a strong 3-part harmony on the chorus.

Audience participation was great throughout for an audience that ranged in age from 16-76. They laughed, screamed and rose to their feet on many an occasion. Leonard spoke eloquently (as usual) while also showing his infamous sense of humour.

Nothing was left to chance - look, clothing, lighting, instruments, arrangements, nothing. Roscoe deserves a lot of credit for his work as musical director. And I must comment also on the sound man's contribution - the mix was incredibly clear and clean, it was literally like listening to a CD recording on a massive stereo.

If Leonard Cohen chooses to retire after this tour, he will do so on a high-note (no bad pun intended). I just hope there's a DVD.

I could type all night but it's late and I don't have spell-check. Me? - I'm off to Halifax for Tuesday, Glace Bay the 21st, and then I have to wait a month for the three shows in Montreal. I hate to wish away a month of summer!
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Re: Opening Night - Fredericton

Postby Ken » Mon May 12, 2008 6:24 am

Thank you very very much for this great review!

I thought it wasn't possible to be more excited, but I was wrong.

the "southern gospel feel" you are describing is a bit of a surprise to me - and I'm looking forward to it very much.
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Re: Fredericton gets ready

Postby astranger » Mon May 12, 2008 6:28 am

can we suspect bootlegs to surface here?
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Re: Fredericton gets ready

Postby Tri-me2 » Mon May 12, 2008 6:37 am

What a great show. His voice was perfection like on the CD's. Our Governor General Herménégilde Chiasson was there he was in the same row I was, Mr Chiasson is a poet too.

Leonard looked as if he truly enjoyed himself. We all rose to our feet when he got on stage. He started with a joke about it being mother's day, he said his mother told him it is easy to go to satin underware but not the other way. He laughed at that. I will not tell all his jokes there were many as you could expect form him.

The set was very simple but beautiful, shears that picked up the different cououred lighting. When he sang Hallelugah it looked as if the stage was black and white, beautiful effect.

*The back up singers and the band fantastic wonderful I cannot rememebr names, the one woman worked with him on songs, I recall her voice,
*When he sang Tower of Song and people applauded when he sang "I was born this way, I had no choice...." he laughed a bit.
*The second set was more lively (the audience), maybe because people felt so comfortable with him, maybe because we had time to get a drink. There was no red wine because of Mother's Day all the wine was sold out for the resuaurants, having a vodka and cranberry juice listening to Leonard was awesome.
*When he sang I'm Your Man the reaction from the audience sweet
*Hallelugah we gave him a standing ovation when after he sang that 8)
*He sang three more songs after he left for the first time. For the last one he actually said if you sit down I will sing one more song,
*he said Tri-me are you there? No, he did not do that

I am interested to hear from other concerts if he speaks some of the words in French before he starts to sing, New Brunswick is a bilengual province so maybe because he was here? I look forward to hearing.

There was a lot of hooting from the audience like a kitchen party almost. He said he would not be forgetting the evening anytime soon. I am amazed at his energy and the quality of his voice, I really did not expect what he gave us. The people in the audience were definelty satisfied, my friend told me (she is in her 70"s and saw him when he was at Magille the same time she was) I can die now. In some ways I feel the same way, since 1982 I have loved his work and I just passed an evening with him, his concert was as if he was giving a gift to his fans.
Last edited by Tri-me2 on Thu May 15, 2008 3:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Fredericton Set List

Postby bigdee » Mon May 12, 2008 6:38 am

Great setlist! Like Ken I too would love to see "Miaracle" in the set but would more so love to see "Famous Blue Raincoat" and "A Thousand Kisses Deep" added. But really who cares as long as the great one is one the stage again I really can't complain about what songs he chooses to sing. Especially when he is still giving 2 1/2 hour shows like he did when he was younger! Now I really can't wait until the Montreal shows, come on June!!!
By the way, did he play his guitar tonight on the usual songs he played on before or was Bob playing for him? I know there was some questions raised in other threads about if he could still play and I'm wondering that myself.

Also, as a member of the concert trading community, I'm wondering if anyone from the audience recorded the show? If anyone wants to TRADE I have hundereds of cds of concerts from other tours to offer you to pick from in trade for anything from the new tour. If anyone gets anything from the new tour and wants to trade send me a PM and we'll go from there.

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Re: Opening Night - Fredericton

Postby mirka » Mon May 12, 2008 6:39 am

Thanks a lot, Steve, for taking time to write this review, apart from feeding our interest, you saved the life of one cat.
I cannot wait until Friday !
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Re: Fredericton Set List

Postby Pope » Mon May 12, 2008 7:21 am

Wonder if we'll get to hear it anytime.
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Re: Fredericton gets ready

Postby lizzytysh » Mon May 12, 2008 7:45 am

Ohhh, this is Phenomenal... I can't believe the length of that set list! I would have expected one segment to have been the entire show! So many wonderful wonderful songs to look forward to... thank you so much, Tri-me, for your excellent report! Are you sure he didn't call you by your name? He is, after all, Love... With your sitting there watching him, I know it had to feel like it 8) .

Leonard is giving an astonishing gift to his fans in this tour. I'm so happy that so many are getting to see him for the first time... hopefully, many of the young as well as those of us who are older.

Thank you, too, Libraryref, ShelleyE, and Upsofloating :D . Every one of yours added something by having something different. I'm looking forward to reading the reports as time goes on and on until Montreal!

Goodnight everyone and thanks, again... you're great! I'm so glad you were able to see him, Tri-me.

Thank you in advance, Leonard, for your gift of love to those who love you.

Ahhhhh, you must all be floating. He sounds so happy 8) .

~ Lizzy
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Re: Fredericton Set List

Postby upsofloating » Mon May 12, 2008 8:22 am

I would certainly love a copy of the show. It was perfect, though I didn't like the rendition of "So Long, Marianne" and "Bird on a Wire" very much.
"Dear child, I only did to you what the sparrow
did to you; I am old when it is fashionable to be
young; I cry when it is fashionable to laugh."

---Charles Bukowski
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Re: Opening Night - Fredericton

Postby Mikeaus » Mon May 12, 2008 8:28 am

Thank you Steve for the great review. We in Australia can only look on with sheer envy.
Sydney & Bowral 2009. Lissadell Sligo July 2010 (what a night!). Sydney & Hanging Rock November 2010. Bimbadgen Winery, Hunter Valley, Nov 2013. Sydney Opera House, Dec 2013.
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Re: Opening Night - Fredericton

Postby upsofloating » Mon May 12, 2008 8:32 am

I mirror everything stated, except I didn't find that "Bird on a Wire" or "So Long, Marianne" worked as well in their new arrangements. Bird was fine, but Marianne lacked the lustre and passion of the original. Other than that, every song was perfect and I could not ask for more.
"Dear child, I only did to you what the sparrow
did to you; I am old when it is fashionable to be
young; I cry when it is fashionable to laugh."

---Charles Bukowski
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Re: Opening Night - Fredericton

Postby Dream Warrior » Mon May 12, 2008 8:41 am

Wow! Thanks for the in-depth and knowledgable recap of the night in Fredricton, Steve. The set list is impressive and it sounds as though Leonard has surrounded himself with the finest company on stage. June 24th cannot arrive soon enough.

I have followed the Master's work since his early books of poetry. My first real experience of Canadian poetry was his 'Let Us Compare Mythologies', followed by Irving Layton's 'Balls for a One-Armed Juggler'. And, as for the music! Right from the first album, the spiritual yearning and the human passion in his work were palpable and powerful influences.

There is no question of the breadth and depth of influence these two great Montrealers - both Leonard and Irving - had on this lad from Winnipeg. The last few years I was despairing of the opportunity to ever see Leonard Cohen in performance. This is such a wonderful time of recognition and tribute for one of Canada's finest exports to the world. It is nice that we, who love his music and his talent, have been invited to share in a small part of this. It is a triumph of the heart and spirit.
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Re: Opening Night - Fredericton

Postby friscogrl » Mon May 12, 2008 9:56 am

Steve, thanks for the great review of leonard and his band. i cannot wait. i am seeing him in Toronto. Also thanks for posting the set list. Great list of songs and as someone once posted he could sit there and read the phone book and I would be thrilled. The only song that wasn't there that i would like to hear is "If it be Your Will" And if he does'nt perform it i certainly won't complain!
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Re: Opening Night - Fredericton

Postby Rabbit » Mon May 12, 2008 10:50 am

For everybody who couldn't be there, here's your first taste.

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