CONCERT REPORT: New York, Feb 19 at the Beacon

USA and Canada (April 1 - June 4, 2009). Special concert for fans in NYC (February 19). Concert reports, set lists, photos, media coverage, multimedia links, recollections...
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Re: Special Concert in New York

Postby Violet » Fri Feb 20, 2009 6:29 pm

gussiecat wrote:It was magnificent, it tore at your heart…..I was there last night in NYC. There will be reviews galore, so I offer you only my soul’s overview: it was a thrill of the deepest kind, passionate, tough, and sweet. It erased every pain you entered the theater with and replaced it with a joy close to sorrow. I had not seen him since 1992, but have followed his work so closely. This concert was heaven for me. I raced back to our room for the 12:01 announcement to find that he’ll be playing in my city as well – such gifts! But even if I don’t get to see him there, it won’t matter: tonight will last and last. Thank you Leonard, thank you. You have shown the world that age is an illusion, that art is personal and public all at once, that humans can rise higher than any of us can fathom in this sphere.

(And on a more practical note: no, I didn’t go to the pre-show, so I don’t know what happened, but am curious. Someone there mentioned some celebrities in attendance at the concert and I saw some limos outside, but not who was in them. Can’t wait for everyone else’s comments – I just couldn’t sleep in – had to get up and read the forum!)
Thank you too, gussiecat... you're right, I did go to the concert with a heavy heart, and my spirits were entirely lifted, and by the end, with the countless encores Leonard did (which was such a lovely way to do the show), I felt like a child at Christmas time with no end to the presents in sight... And the masterfulness of the show overall was incredible, the musicianship was astounding (just who is that Mandolin player from Barcelona? I now have to research him), but just everyone on stage was superb... and Sharon Robinson, so lovely to hear her voice, and the Webb Sisters when they performed "If It Be Your Will," with the harp and the heavenly golden lighting, it really was to arrive in some celestial place where all is well and will always be well... And so much of the show was like that, as if you'd arrived at this heavenly place... It seems the result of years of pain, combined with great talent, searing moments of madness and inspiration, and something else, some heavenly dimension that Leonard has somehow built for us... it's a place where we can bring our hearts fully.. and he's so much fun and funny too (!)... Leonard, I thank you from the bottom of what feels to be my much tattered heart these days... you've lifted me up, and given me love and even solace amid all the others there at the Beacon who were sharing this wondrousness with me and my husband... I've only recently given my twin brother, who suffers from schizophrenia, an early compilation CD, I'm blanking on the name, actually, that has Suzanne on it, and he too is so very taken with you, your compositions and your words... And I'm sure that everyone who saw the concert last night is feeling today, on the morning after, just gently buoyed by it... lifted slightly... with the world a sweetly altered place... today... and in our memories... I thank you...


edit: forgot the extra 'b' in Webb, then I messed this thing up... v.
Last edited by Violet on Fri Feb 20, 2009 10:15 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: New York, February 19, 2009 - Beacon Theatre Show

Postby HMUnger » Fri Feb 20, 2009 7:18 pm

Last night's show was the most amazing concert I have ever attended. My wife described LC's performance in a single word - gracious. Leonard was gracious to the fans (A 74-year-old playing for three hours!?) and to his band, the members of which he let take the spotlight (even sing entire songs) throughout the evening. From the lighting to the cloths, everything about the performance was perfect. My only disappointment was with the gaggle of photographers allowed to snap away through the first song. Their shutter-clicking really annoyed my entire section.
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Re: New York, February 19, 2009 - Beacon Theatre Show

Postby Paula » Fri Feb 20, 2009 7:23 pm

To be fair HMUnger it was for the benefit of the press and media as well as a special show for the fans. It was an extra show to publicise the USA tour so I think it was expected that there would be a barrage of press there.
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Re: Special Concert in New York

Postby deborahehrlich » Fri Feb 20, 2009 7:40 pm

Thank you all for the kind words and thoughts. While the t-shirt situation definitely upset us, nothing could detract from such an incredible performance. We truly feel blessed that we were able to attend the concert. Now, a bit of good news for those who missed the concert. According to the NPR website, they will broadcast the entire concert online for all to enjoy on February 26. Here is what they posted on
"In an effort to fight the ticket brokers, Cohen's management is allowing us to stream a recording of this entire Beacon Theater performance. We'll post it online on Feb. 26. Details will appear in our show on Monday, and on our Twitter feed @allsongs."
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Re: Special Concert in New York

Postby Hartmut » Fri Feb 20, 2009 7:46 pm

Also, did anyone happen to get a photo of the Beacon sign where it said "Leonard Cohen Sold Out"? We were so thrown off by the t-shirt incident that we forgot to take a shot ourselves.
Here you can find such a photo: ... y-02-19-09 ... ohen11.JPG
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Special Concert in New York

Postby John K. » Fri Feb 20, 2009 8:25 pm

I'll leave it to others more articulate than I am to relate the stories from last night in detail. Of course, Mr. Cohen and the band were fantastic! As with other "meet-ups" and concerts, it was especially fun to meet many of you from the Forum, as well as reunite with old friends from past events. One of the things I appreciate so much from the LC Community is how this isn't just an internet phenomenon, we actually exist in person too.

The pre-show was a unique experience, being able to meet and have photos with some of the performers.

I'm really moved from several things that happened last night, and I want to thank you for making this all possible. A safe trip home.


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Re: New York, February 19, 2009 - Beacon Theatre Show

Postby hydriot » Fri Feb 20, 2009 9:33 pm

HMUnger wrote:My only disappointment was with the gaggle of photographers allowed to snap away through the first song. Their shutter-clicking really annoyed my entire section.
Leonard has an arrangement with the press that they may photograph as much as they like during the first song, but after that their license expires and they are required to leave him alone. I think this approach works well. Better to be completely disturbed for one song than to be occasionally disturbed throughout the entire concert.
“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: Special Concert in New York

Postby anneporter » Fri Feb 20, 2009 9:40 pm

Thanks, Violet. It's nice to get the flavour of the event.

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Re: Special Concert in New York

Postby giddi » Fri Feb 20, 2009 9:59 pm

concert sounds amazing.... so glad for those who attended.
And those that did - please don't buy at presale for the next NYC concert, so others will have a chance too :)
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Re: Special Concert in New York

Postby jarkko » Fri Feb 20, 2009 10:01 pm

L.C. Live at the Beacon Theater. 2/19/09

by Paul Ostermayer

WHEN I FIRST HAD THE HONOR of sharing the stage with Leonard Cohen in
1979, Leonard was 45 years old. He was still in what could be called his angst
filled stage of life. His band in that year was comprised of mostly 20 something
males with an overabundance of energy and unaware that they were about to be
blindsided by a life changing assault from within - by courtesy of Mr. Cohen, of
course. (We didn't realize it at the time, but this was actually the true genius of
Leonard Cohen: that by means of a prodigious facility with language, a penetrating
intellect, the heart of a spiritual seeker and the gift of true humility, including a
self effacing sense of humor, he would change lives forever by simply sharing
his angst through his songs.)

But I digress. The fact is, we were all caught up in the excitement of it all - the
women, the wine, the song, the fame. And we played music that reflected that
excitement - strong, passionate, at times ear-splitting rock and roll. And as we
all know, this tends to engender a like passion in the audience, which feeds
back to the musicians, which then ignites the crowd even more, and... well, you
see where this is headed. Go to your copy of Field Commander Cohen, in the
song "Memories", around 3 minutes into the song, and listen as Leonard gets
so pumped that he is literally yelling repeatedly, "All my faith...." He is a man
possessed, and the audience loves it.

Ah, it doesn't get any better than that, right? Well,...yes, but what about after the
concert when the crowd is no longer there and that glorious moment is but a
memory? Many musicians do what they can to make that moment linger as long
as possible, sometimes with long term ill effect, yes, but then they can start the
next day with the memory of a great experience and the hope that it will happen
again the next night. But Leonard is not most musicians. The abysmal chasm
between the high of that performance and the low of being alone with yourself
and all your shortcomings was an agonizing reality for him. The spiritual seeker
in him knew there was something beyond this duality and the angst came as the
answer remained ever elusive.

Now to the bass drum. Listen for it in that track of "Memories". It is like a heartbeat
on steroids. It hits you in the gut. The drums in general are what set the tone (and
the volume) for the other musicians to follow. The bass drum in particular is what
the bass player "hooks up" with to create that gut-pounding excitement. Leonard
loved it - but only when it was creating that audience frenzy thing. At rehearsals,
not so much. At sound checks, definitely not. You see, especially by the '93 tour,
Leonard's voice had lowered into the very range occupied by the bass drum and
bass, and he was having trouble hearing himself. Talk about angst. That very tour
was cut short in part, perhaps, because of that problem.

Fast forward a few years and Leonard is living as a monk on Mt. Baldy. We all know
the story of his time spent there. But what many do not know, including perhaps
Leonard himself, is that one of the demons he went there to grapple with was, yes,
the bass drum. That irresistible, pounding seducer of men and women alike had to
be faced head-on, and put in its proper place in the life of Leonard Cohen. And from
where I sat last night at the Beacon Theater, I would say he has successfully met that

How? By a combination of electronic drums and the right band. E-drums create sound
not by moving air through space, but electronically; and this allows their volume to be controlled at the sound board. So no more low frequency competition with Leonard's
voice, because the bass player is also playing softer to match the e-bass drum. This is no easy task for a band used to playing with acoustic drums, but this band was equal to that task. Many kudos to Roscoe Beck, both the bassist and musical director, for leading this excellent band in this endeavor. (Note the irony that he was the bassist on that “Memories” track.) And Rafael Gayol did a great job of playing a combo acoustic/electronic set to create the needed effect. An added bonus of this effect was that the lower volume allowed all the many tonal colors possible in this band to be heard. Multi-instrumentalist Dino Soldo contributed many of those colors, including the tenor and soprano saxophones. Yes, I enthusiastically approve of my replacement in the band!

The amazing part of this is that Leonard was in the middle of a mega-tour, and he was
relaxed, even happy! Backstage, and even onstage, as everyone who was there last
night can attest, it is obvious that the lessons learned on Mt. Baldy have followed him
on the road and are with him in his life now. And what of those “Memories”-like ecstasies that we all enjoyed back in the days of bass drums and tinnitus? Well, part
of me misses that, but the better part I think is appreciative of this latest of Leonard
Cohen’s gifts to the world. It is the gift of a public life lived in a sacred space. And it
leads to peace. Thank you, we all thank you, Leonard.
1988, 1993: Helsinki||2008: Manchester|Oslo|London O2|Berlin|Helsinki|London RAH|| 2009: New York Beacon|Berlin|Venice|Barcelona|Las Vegas|San José||2010: Salzburg|Helsinki|Gent|Bratislava|Las Vegas|| 2012: Gent|Helsinki|Verona|| 2013: New York|Pula|Oslo|||
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Re: Special Concert in New York

Postby yentek » Fri Feb 20, 2009 10:11 pm

Does anyone know when the New York Times review will appear?
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Re: Special Concert in New York

Postby micropup2008 » Fri Feb 20, 2009 10:15 pm

Wow :!: Amen :!:
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Re: Special Concert in New York

Postby burningviolin » Fri Feb 20, 2009 10:33 pm

Wow indeed!!
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Re: Special Concert in New York

Postby tomsakic » Fri Feb 20, 2009 10:52 pm

Additionally NPR will broadcast select songs from Leonard Cohen's Beacon Theatre performance at on Wednesday, February 25.
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Re: New York, February 19, 2009 - Beacon Theatre Show

Postby tomsakic » Fri Feb 20, 2009 10:53 pm says: "NPR will broadcast select songs from Leonard Cohen's Beacon Theatre performance at on Wednesday, February 25."

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