CONCERT REPORTS: Manchester, UK (June 17, 18, 19 and 20)

Canada and Europe (May 11 - August 3, 2008). Concert reports, set lists, photos, media coverage, multimedia links, recollections...
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Re: Manchester, UK (June 17-20)

Postby Born With The Gift Of A G » Wed Jun 18, 2008 2:20 pm

Excellent review from the ever reliable Kevin Bourke of the Manchester Evening News: ... pera_house

P.S. Have you noticed that Mister Cohen's age seems to be causing confusion amongst all these reviewers?

I believe that he is 73....but some of them seem to think he is 74 or even 75!
Leonard Cohen @ Opera House
Kevin Bourke
18/ 6/2008

GRACIOUS and humble are not words one often sees in the context of popular music.

But, along with a host of superlatives, they could appropriately be used of 75-year-old Leonard Cohen’s astonishing and moving return to the British stage after an absence of 15 years or so – since, as he quipped, he was “just a 60-year-old with a crazy dream”!

Many of the audience can’t have expected to ever see Cohen live again, let alone in such spry and wry form as he seeems to be these days.

Surrounded by a team of crack musicians and singers, to whom he often deferred, Cohen magisterially delivered a career-spanning set that seemed to be one highlight after another.

What was particularly striking to this long-time fan was how Cohen’s voice – never as “golden” as he ironically observed on Tower Of Song – has matured into an instrument that’s wholly appropriate for these songs.

Whilst the same could be said of some of the great bluesmen, it’s not a commonplace development in the white musical tradition.


Just about the only criticism that could feasibly be levelled against the song selection was that even in a set that, remarkably, lasted the better part of three hours, there were some classics that were missed out.

But who could quibble with a set-list that boasted such astonishing creations as The Future, Anthem, So Long Marianne and Hallejulah? I don’t mind admitting that I was close to blubbing when Cohen delivered a spoken-word version of A Thousand Kisses Deep and the version of If It Be Your Will, sung by two of his backing vocalists the Webb sisters, was simply astonishing in a night full of wonderful surprises.

These shows, trailblazers for next year’s Manchester International Festival, sold out virtually instantaneously.

But if you can possibly manage to acquire a ticket, you’d be foolish not to give yourself the chance to witness such a unique, soul-stirring event, surely destined to be remembered as one of the great shows of the year.
"Little lady.....I AM Kris Kristofferson....."
London: 10 & 11 May 1993; Manchester: 17, 18, 19 & 20 June 2008; Vienna: 25 September 2008; London: 17 November 2008; Paris: 26 November 2008; Manchester: 30 November 2008; Liverpool: 14 July 2009; Paris: 28 September 2012; Manchester: 31 August 2013; Leeds: 7 September 2013.
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Re: Manchester, UK (June 17-20)

Postby Bela » Wed Jun 18, 2008 5:08 pm

That's a great pic, James T! Thanks for posting it. :-)
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Re: Manchester, UK (June 17-20)

Postby linmag » Wed Jun 18, 2008 5:22 pm

Got back from Manchester too late last night to post anything, and will have to rely on someone else to post a set-list because I never gave it another thought after Leonard walked on stage. In fact, I never gave anything another thought until my feet finally touched the ground again somewhere on the way back to the Deansgate to meet up with everyone again and compare notes on a wonderful evening. From the first standing ovation (just for walking onstage!) to the last (I lost count), Leonard was everything I had hoped and expected he would be - charming, witty and self-deprecating, with a voice so rich and 'grand' in every sense of the word that it hardly seemed possible it could be coming from so slight and frail-looking a frame. I'll leave others who know what they are talking about to tell you about the perfection of the musical performance. In an evening that was enchanting from start to finish, three offerings stood out for me: Leonard's spoken version of A Thousand Kisses Deep, Hallelujah and Anthem. Make that four - I can't believe I nearly forgot the Webb sisters' amazing rendition of If It Be Your Will, preceded by Leonard's recital of the first couple of verses.

I am so looking forward to hearing it all again in Lyon and London :)
Last edited by linmag on Wed Jun 18, 2008 7:03 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Manchester, UK (June 17-20)

Postby honeyrose » Wed Jun 18, 2008 5:55 pm

Hello everyone

Just got back from Manchester. Amazing show. (Although I am still a bit narked about those really good seats going on sale at the last minute on SeeTickets, who knows what TicketMaster is up to? But well done "Born with the Gift of a G" for getting the E row seats, I was very tempted to buy them and used them instead of mine but in the end I couldn't afford to. Well done too to James T for your photo. How did you manage it by the way?)

Although I thought Leonard looked a little stooped and grey, not surprising given his age, he was in just amazing voice. I thought his version of Hallelujah was particularly moving. What a wonderful night to cherish.

Just one drawback really - the merchandise. The only clothing available was tee shirts, three types: red and yellow with the cover of New Skin for the Old Ceremony picture, some plain ones Leonard as he looks on tour now, ie "mature" and wearing a trilby (mostly only dark grey ones left) and some dark brown (I think) ones with a red logo on the front and the tour date on the back. There was other merchandise like books and the tour design poster but no sleeveless hoodies (as were mentioned here) and certainly no tees with the tour picture on. I thought it was all a bit disappointing, And they were £20 each which I think is a rip-off.

My sister, who could not attend, had asked me to buy her a tee, but not spend more than £15. So they were too dear for me, even if I could have got to the front of the merchandise queue which I could not. I arrived with little time to spare and the queue was still right across the foyer and I had to leave promptly at the end so I didn't stand a chance really.

Still I did not go home disappointed - I have a confession to make here, when I came out of the theatre, there were several young men flogging "independent" 2008 tour tee shirts. They had printed a younger Leonard face and 2008 Tour on the front, and another even younger Leonard face with a complete set of the 2008 European tour dates on the back. They were black with blue and white lettering and very good value (nice thick tees, not thin cheap ones). Cost £5......So I bought one.I took a photo of it and will post later for you to see. I expect they will be there again Wednesday Thursday and Friday after the show. I know we should support the artist, but after all we did attend the concert which was not cheap.

The other thing is - does anyone remember when you used to get programmes at rock concerts? I do and have several in my collection. Few shows have them nowadays but there was a Police fan in our hotel lift this morning (the Police were also on in Manchester last night) and he was reading a Police show programme. As Leonard has had such a long and illustrious career it seems a shame he did not have a programme. I have some professional dtp skills and editing expertise. Would anyone be interested in a souvenir booklet of the 2008 Tour with a retrospective view over highlights of Leonard's career if I compiled one. If you can send me pictures from the tour (like James T's) I could put something together as a tribute to Leonard and get it priced (I have some printing contacts) - I do not want to make a profit - and could distribute it to forum members at cost as a permanent souvenir of the tour. What do you think Jarkko?

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Re: Manchester, UK (June 17-20)

Postby hydriot » Wed Jun 18, 2008 6:01 pm

James T wrote:Just met Leonard and got a picture with him! Amazing day.
Coming out of the Tuesday concert, I saw a couple being photographed by a friend posing in front of a Leonard Cohen poster, and I suddenly realised how incredibly fortunate we all were who attended the October meet-up, met and talked with Leonard person-to-person, and had our photos taken not under a mere poster but with the man himself.

And what a delight to see the touts desperately trying to sell tickets at the door and failing miserably, thanks to the seats made available at the last minute on-line. I was only coming on Wednesday, then managed to get one of those on-line tickets at face value, so have made it a two-night visit. And Karma was on my side. I didn't think I could justify the expense of a second seat and a second night in a hotel, and mulled over the cost-benefit balance for some minutes ... but in the end decided I had to go for it anyway ... and then, literally two hours before leaving home, I received an envelope with a £200 premium bond win!! So I am feeling pleasantly relaxed now as I wait for the second concert.

Tuesday night was a wonderful experience, the audience very well-mannered with only one over-enthusiastic fan in front of me air-dancing in his seat to almost every number. The set-list (for me) was absolutely excellent, with only one song (The Gipsy Wife) not of any interest to me. He sang many songs from Ten New Songs and The Future, plus some from the sixties. Bird on the Wire had a few changed lyrics I hadn't heard before, including a reference to "the shape of our love" instead of "ribbons ...". Hallelujah was sung with real passion and had all the verses, including the erotic one.

The only thing that upset me was I felt the banal drumming in the first set was a distraction.

Javier Maas, on assorted stringed instruments, was quite brilliant, though he did look a bit disconcerted when Leonard got down on one knee and started serenading him. In the first song, Dance Me to the End of Love, Maas made an acoustic guitar sound like a bouzouki ... very impressive.

But what really knocked my socks of was the energy Leonard has. Only hope I am as full of vitality as he is when I am 73. His voice was great too, hugely improved since the days of Dear Heather.

And what lovely unassuming wit! The very last words he sang to us, having been called back for encores repeatedly, were:

"And here's a man still working for your smile!"

A memorable evening indeed ... and one I will enjoy again tonight.
“If you do have love it's a kind of wound, and if you don't have it it's worse.” - Leonard, July 1988
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Re: Manchester, UK (June 17-20)

Postby sirius » Wed Jun 18, 2008 6:07 pm

First he took Manchester ...

Music review: A formidable Leonard Cohen is still 'working for your smile'. And your cash

Leonard Cohen Opera House, Manchester

Dorian Lynskey
Wednesday June 18, 2008


His voice now sounds like a boulder rolling down a tunnel ... Leonard Cohen ... 21,00.html

When announcing a tour it is not usually the done thing to mention financial incentives. The Rolling Stones, for example, try to give the impression that they would be happy to play for nothing more than travel expenses and a hot meal.
The primary motivation behind Leonard Cohen's return to the stage after 15 years, however, is unashamedly pecuniary.

His former manager Kelley Lynch siphoned off $5m from his retirement fund - money that, despite Cohen winning a civil suit, she shows no inclination to pay back. And so, arguably the greatest songwriter of his era has had to gird his 73-year-old loins for a lengthy tour of Europe and Canada.

It is a dreadful business, but fans who had given up hope of ever seeing Cohen in action again could be forgiven for feeling guiltily grateful to Lynch.

Fortunately, Cohen does not seem in the least bit reluctant. He wears his age well. He was already 33, and a published novelist, when he released his debut album in 1967, so his songwriting persona was careworn and battle scarred from the off.

Tonight, in his suit and hat, he resembles a senior 1920s mobster, only with a guitar instead of a tommy gun.

When he and his similarly attired band open with the Italian-flavoured Dance Me to the End of Love, we could almost be at a mafia wedding. The hat is gracefully doffed to acknowledge applause.

Cohen's baritone has become deeper and more formidable over the years; the line in Tower of Song - "I was born with the gift of a golden voice" - prompts a wave of knowing laughter and applause. The golden voice now resembles a boulder rolling down a tunnel: something huge and elemental.

Older songs such as Suzanne lure him back to the upper limits of his range, but most of the material dates from after he discovered synthesizers and politics in the 80s.

The acrid, dystopian humour of The Future and First We Take Manhattan is as resonant now as it was 20 years ago, a reminder that the only people who dub Cohen depressing are those that don't get the jokes. He delivers plenty tonight, like a wry nightclub host.

"Please sit down," he says after one standing ovation. "It makes me nervous. I think you're going to leave."

Only the slightly hokey, jazz-club arrangements sometimes threaten to distract from Cohen's commanding presence - a saxophone solo is never too far away - but songwriting this good is indomitable.

Seizing his magnificent Hallelujah back from Jeff Buckley, Rufus Wainwright and dozens more, he is possessed by the words, his eyes squeezed tight, his body trembling.

After three hours, the final encore is the aptly titled I Tried to Leave You. "Goodnight my darling/ I hope you're satisfied," Cohen rumbles with a wink. "Here's a man still working for your smile."

· At Manchester Opera House till friday (0844 847 2277), then touring © Guardian News and Media Limited 2008
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Re: Manchester, UK (June 17-20)

Postby sirius » Wed Jun 18, 2008 6:33 pm

First Night: Leonard Cohen, Opera House, Manchester

A happy return for the master of misery

The Independent
By David Pollock
Wednesday, 18 June 2008

AP Photp

Cohen might have been a crooner, had he not been blessed with the baritone that's his and his alone ... 49314.html

Does Leonard Cohen want to be here? It looks like it, actually. It's been well-documented that he believes fraud has eroded his pension fund, to the point that getting out on the road is his most viable way of making a fast living.

There was no sense of a grudge here, though, or of an artist hauling himself across the stage to pay the bills. Whether Manchester International Festival has benefited from his circumstances in luring the 73-year-old Canadian across the Atlantic to play this four-night midsummer residency is irrelevant. The presence of an icon like this is simply a major cultural event in any city's calendar.

Regardless of how he came to be before us, Cohen looks assured about the situation. "It's been 15 years since I stood up on a stage," he says, reminding his audience of how privileged they are. "Fourteen, 15 years ago when I was 60 – a young kid with a crazy dream – then I took a lot of Prozac." He reels off a list of other prescription mood enhancers that he has sampled. "I studied all the religions of the world too, but cheerfulness kept breaking through." Laughter and cheers follow, and he soaks them up. Yes, Cohen – the godfather of miserablism – looks happy to be with us.

He also looks not nearly all of his years. In a tailored dark suit, a grey shirt and a steel-coloured fedora with a black ribbon, he carries himself with the smooth style and dignity of a jazz player in Fifties Manhattan. When he sings, his knees knock together, he cringes in the spotlight, his mic is pinched in white-knuckled fists. Cohen might have been a crooner, had he not been blessed with the baritone that's his and his alone.

Even each frequent between-song comment and introduction for a member of his six-piece band, or three-strong chorus, is enunciated with a voice rich in drama and gravitas. And to hear him sing is still an experience to truly make young women and romantics shiver and sweat.

That voice is as rich and sexual as it was 40 years ago, and its tonal imperfections are only an enhancement. "I was born with a gift of a golden voice," runs the line in Tower of Song, and knowing cheers greet it.

The show is three hours long, including interval, but Cohen breezes through just about every song of note his career has contained, with the begrudging exception of Chelsea Hotel No 2. Who By Fire features an extended flamenco guitar introduction, one of many instrumental flourishes throughout, like the guitar lines in Bird On A Wire which cause Cohen to respectfully clutch his hat to his chest like the last mourner at a graveside. Spines tingle through Suzanne and Hey, That's No Way To Say Goodbye, and Hallelujah commands a standing ovation.

The encores begin with So Long, Marianne and includes If It Be Your Will, begun as one of a handful of tender spoken-word passages, and continued by Cohen's backing singers, the Webb Sisters and alongside his long-time collaborator Sharon Robinson. He pauses to thank them, his band and us, "my friends", over all three of his returns to the stage. He is received every time with wild and deserved adoration.
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Re: Manchester, UK (June 17-20)

Postby sirius » Wed Jun 18, 2008 6:41 pm


Leonard Cohen

Cheerfulness kept breaking through at Manchester show

Leonard Cohen performed live for the first time in the UK in over 15 years last night (June 17) at Manchester Opera House. The singer, backed by a six-piece band and three backing singers, played a 24-song set that ranged across four decades of his musical output.

Looking frail but dapper in a double-breasted grey suit and fedora, and occasionally playing a black guitar, Cohen led his band through classics of like "Bird On A Wire", "Tower Of Song", "Suzanne", "So Long Marianne" and his most famous composition, "Hallelujah", on which Cohen shook with emotion.

Greeted by several standing ovations, Cohen played two sets and three encores over three hours. The 74-year-old poet had time for a few jokes, too. “Fourteen or 15 years ago, I was just a kid with a crazy dream. Since then, I’ve taken a lot of Prozac,” and went on to list half a dozen or so pharmaceuticals. He continued, “I’ve studied the religions of the world, but somehow, cheerfulness kept breaking through.”

Cohen also changed a lyric in "The Future" from “Give me crack and anal sex” to “give me crack and careless sex”, as he has done previously on the North American leg of his world tour. "A Thousand Kisses Deep" was delivered as a spoken word piece, while "Tower Of Song" and "Suzanne" were stripped-down arrangements, in contrast to the full-band treatment of the majority of the set.

After finishing his set with "Closing Time", Cohen quickly came back with "I Tried To Leave You", provoking yet another ovation.

The set list was:

1. Dance Me To The End Of Love

2. The Future

3. Ain’t No Cure For Love

4. Bird On A Wire

5. Everybody Knows

6. My Secret Life

7. Who By Fire

8. That’s No Way To Say Goodbye

9. Anthem


1.Tower Of Song

2. Suzanne

3. The Gypsy Wife

4. Boogie Street

5. Hallelujah

6. Democracy

7. I’m Your Man

8. 1000 Kisses Deep

9. Take This Waltz


1. So Long Marianne

2. First We Take Manhattan

Encore 2

1. That Don’t Make It Junk

2. If It Be Your Will

3. Closing Time

Encore 3

1. I Tried To Leave You
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Re: Manchester, UK (June 17-20)

Postby fafner » Wed Jun 18, 2008 7:32 pm

Absolutely fantastic night last night! It was all that I have dreamed of for 20-odd years. I couldn't help myself today... went and waited at stage door and briefly met Leonard. He was extremely gracious and patient with the few of us who were there. He signed my copy of Stranger Music and posed for photos.... I didn't stop shaking for half an hour...
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Re: Manchester, UK (June 17-20)

Postby colonel_mustard » Wed Jun 18, 2008 7:49 pm

What an amazing night, the setlist was awesome, his voice was as masterful as ever, his grace was humbling, everything about it was just breath taking. I only wish I had the money to go to all four Manchester shows, and I wish I had a better seat. But even from row K of the Balcony in a seat higher up than the top of the stage I had the best and most memorable experience. Long live LC. :)
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Re: Manchester, UK (June 17-20)

Postby asta » Wed Jun 18, 2008 8:28 pm

Congratulations to Manchester Evening News, and the very accurate report, and for rightly mentioning The Webb Sisters and Leonard and "If it be your Will."
It seems M Evening News are the only UK concert 'report' / publication who might also realise that The Webb Sisters are the only 'Brit's' in the band!
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Re: Manchester, UK (June 17-20)

Postby MEB » Wed Jun 18, 2008 9:15 pm

asta wrote:Congratulations to Manchester Evening News, and the very accurate report, and for rightly mentioning The Webb Sisters and Leonard and "If it be your Will."
It seems M Evening News are the only UK concert 'report' / publication who might also realise that The Webb Sisters are the only 'Brit's' in the band!

FWIW quiet a few of the crew are Brits.
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Manchester, UK (June 17-20)

Postby Jeremy » Wed Jun 18, 2008 9:57 pm

cloudlea wrote:Last night was pure magic. In the Circle could hear every word and note.
I have waited 40 years for this, how can we thank him.
Perfect venue in my opinion.

One warning to anyone going to the rest of the Manchester concerts the ushers
were very strict about cameras or video recorders. We got told off twice.
Will be there tomorrow (Thursday) and absolutely delighted to see that the Manchester management are taking a strict line here. A photographic memory is much the best way to record something like this and no-one should have their special evening ruined by the David Baileys....
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Re: Manchester, UK (June 17-20)

Postby Rodin » Wed Jun 18, 2008 10:10 pm

THe Manchester audience behaved impeccably unlike our transatlantic braying cousins.
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Re: Manchester, UK (June 17-20)

Postby phillip » Wed Jun 18, 2008 10:43 pm

My aunt and another aunt&uncle where at Manchester last night and said it was out of this world, I am there tomorrow with my mum, can NOT wait how will I sleep tonight! will post my report when I have been:)
I have been a Leonard Cohen fan for 28 years feel free to email me if you wish to keep in touch!

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