CONCERT REPORT: Portland, Oregon, December 8, 2010

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CONCERT REPORT: Portland, Oregon, December 8, 2010

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Re: CONCERT REPORT: Portland, Oregon, December 8

Post by sturgess66 »

A pre-concert article by Jeff Baker - with input provided via email from Roscoe Beck, Charley & Hattie Webb and Pico Iyer - ... e_por.html
Leonard Cohen Makes a Rare Portland Appearance on Dec. 8

Published: Friday, December 03, 2010, 10:40 AM
Updated: Friday, December 03, 2010, 10:57 AM
Jeff Baker, The Oregonian


Before every concert, Leonard Cohen and his band gather in the green room, dressed and ready. Cohen offers them some essential oils that they rub on their wrists. It's a bonding ritual, and it smells nice.

They also sing three lines as a vocal exercise and a way to get centered. The short chant is in Latin, and is translated this way:

"I am a poor person.

" I have nothing.

"I am nothing."

They sing it as a round. Sometimes they sing it when they walk toward the stage. The first song they perform is almost always "Dance Me to the End of Love," with the lovely line "lift me like an olive branch and be my homeward dove." Another magical evening is under way.

After 15 years of avoiding the road, Cohen has been on tour almost continuously since May of 2008. He's played more than 200 concerts around the world during that time and is wrapping up with three shows, Wednesday at the Rose Garden and next weekend in Las Vegas. There are plans to record an album next year -- Cohen has been performing new songs -- but he's 76 and has been telling audiences he may not pass this way again. It's a fair assumption that this is the last, best chance to see Cohen, and a good time to ask a few questions about one of the most interesting, unlikely musicians of the last 50 years.

Why is he pushing himself so hard, playing three-hour concerts and doubling back to play the same cities twice in three years? Is it renewed energy and inspiration after being away from live performances for so long, or does it have something to do with the lawsuit against his former manager that drained millions from his retirement account?

Where does his legendary discipline and commitment to art originate, in his comfortable Jewish upbringing in Montreal or his later years as an ordained Zen Buddhist monk? How does someone whose vocal range makes Bob Dylan sound like Pavarotti lead a talented band through concerts that leave fans screaming for more after multiple encores? What is it about an artist who's never had a hit in America and never done anything to draw attention to himself that makes people respond so passionately, not only to his music but to what he represents?

The answers to those questions and any others will have to come from someone other than Cohen. He does interviews once in a while but mostly maintains a quiet, calm reserve that is part of his mystique. Everyone who knows Cohen or comes in contact with him describes him as thoughtful and gentle, always courteous while keeping his depths hidden except in his songs. By doing so, he increases curiosity about himself while allowing his fans to project their own often-intense feelings onto him.

"Most singers give us one mood, or one persona with which we can identify or attach ourselves; Leonard Cohen gives us a revolving-door of different selves and levels, and the old man in him is as tonic and bracing in winter as the young seeker was when we were young," Pico Iyer, the author of "The Open Road: The Global Journey of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama," said in an e-mail.

Iyer spent time at the Mt. Baldy Zen Center near Los Angeles with Cohen, who lived there for several years. Cohen was a disciple of Sasaki Roshi, a Japanese monk whose rigorous practice of Zen included sitting zazen 24 hours a day for seven days at a time. A long concert tour must seen like nothing compared to that, and there's no doubt that Cohen's stamina and focus, always intense, have improved with time. He may have come down from the mountaintop, but he brought what he learned with him.

Cohen told Iyer in 1998 that he was too happy at the Zen center to write anymore, and then showed him some new writing. He was a poet and novelist before he started singing at 32, and his love of poetry is so intense that he named his daughter Lorca, after his idol, Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca. For all the brilliant musicianship on Cohen's tours, he is one artist who is best approached through his lyrics. Roscoe Beck, the bass player and musical director in his band, described in an e-mail how he first prepared for a tour with Cohen in 1979.

"The songs, and his books, were a revelation," Beck said. "Prior to that time, most of my work had been in the jazz idiom, and in blues. I was of course familiar with other singer-songwriters such as Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell, but most of my attention had been on the harmonic content of the music I was studying or playing. Here with Leonard was something else entirely, and I was immediately struck by the intense depth of his work: songs such as 'Who by Fire' or 'Story of Isaac' made a great impact on me emotionally."


He's not the only one. Cohen has been making emotional connections since 1967, when his album "Songs of Leonard Cohen" was released. The producer was John Hammond, who signed Dylan and Bruce Springsteen to Columbia Records, and the story goes that when Cohen began singing in the studio, Hammond got on the intercom and said, "Watch out, Dylan!"

"Songs of Leonard Cohen" was full of classics, including "Suzanne" and "Sisters of Mercy." "Songs From a Room" followed two years later with "Bird on the Wire" and Cohen was embedded in popular culture, not at its center like Dylan and Springsteen but over on the darker, more melancholy edge. He took his music from straight-up folk to a more sophisticated European sound and freely experimented over the decades, using Phil Spector as a producer and touring with jazz-influenced bands. His fans remained passionate, and his integrity and refusal to follow trends kept his music fresh for younger fans.

"Growing up, our dad had music on a lot of the time, on car journeys and around the house," said Hattie and Charley Webb, who sing in Cohen's band, in an e-mail. "From Joni Mitchell, Simon and Garfunkel, the Beatles, Buddy Rich ... and he also played Leonard Cohen. As we got older and with more life experience, we felt we related more and more to the impact of Leonard's music, the lilt of Leonard's guitar and voice and the conviction of his lyrics."

Cohen is a major star in Europe, particularly Scandinavia and Poland, Israel, and his native Canada. In the U.S., album sales have been modest and until the current tour he hasn't always sold tickets. (The Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall was only one-third full for a 1988 appearance; a review in The Oregonian was headlined "Tiny audience hears '60s pop.") His song "Hallelujah," released in 1984, has been covered by dozens of artists, most notably Jeff Buckley and John Cale, and has been used in numerous movies and TV shows. It is now a centerpiece of his concerts. Jennifer Warnes' 1987 album "Famous Blue Raincoat," produced by Beck and made up of Cohen songs, was one of the first and best of many tribute albums.

Cohen brought what he learned on Mt. Baldy back with him, but the real world turned cold in 2004 when he discovered that what he thought was a $5 million retirement fund was almost gone. He won a civil judgment against his former manager, once a close friend, for more than $7 million but has been unable to collect. Cohen is described by those who know him as calm about the ordeal and say his religious training keeps him grounded.

"When I first got to know him, on those days on the mountaintop, I very quickly forgot that I was talking to a musical star, a heartthrob or an icon; but I was always aware that I was talking with a deeply serious and committed monk and a hugely articulate and engaged writer," Iyer said. "Those of us who meet him only through his records (which is most of us) or in his concerts can easily forget this; his grounding, his first love, his foundation is in literature and the spirit."

As Cohen winds up his tour, the shows are getting longer and the audiences more enthusiastic. Beck and the Webb sisters were responding to e-mails from Australia, where Cohen finished a four-encore performance in Perth with "I Tried to Leave You." Hattie Webb said there is no typical concert because each one is unique and it was hard to explain the experience in words:

"From the anticipation of walking on stage together, the band singing a chant all together as we go on. Listening to the dynamic and mood of Leonard and each other onstage. Feeling the atmosphere in the room and seeing faces in the audience, living the moment with each person. Singing the words from the heart. The concert comes to a climax of energy and emotion, and we all leave the stage undoing our ties and waistcoats with a feeling that it has been a momentous night."

-- Jeff Baker
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Re: CONCERT REPORT: Portland, Oregon, December 8

Post by holydove »

Sturgess, thank you for posting that wonderful article! Among other things, it's great to finally know the meaning of the words of that interesting & beautiful chant that they do before going onstage (they were also singing that chant on the tour bus in, I think, '79) - I've been wondering about that for a while (thank you, Jeff Baker!). . .and while I'm at it, does anyone know if that chant is a creation of Leonard's, or if it's an old relic from somewhere (it sounds kind of Gregorian. . .)?
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Re: CONCERT REPORT: Portland, Oregon, December 8

Post by lizzytysh »

This article is absolutely wonderful. Thank you Jeff Baker for writing it, and Linda for posting it.
In not that much space, Jeff addresses so many aspects of Leonard's life and in a very caring way.

That chants seems like it has a monastery base to it, the grounding words to keep them in a space of gratitude with all they're about to do, whereas many other performers seem to lead with their egos. Its being in Latin still conveys the meaning, at the same time it keeps it a chant.

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Re: CONCERT REPORT: Portland, Oregon, December 8

Post by jglBB »

For those who would like to hear what this little chant sounds like, i've found this on Youtube. Yes it probably has a religious origin and I remember singing that in my teen years (a long long time ago). The UHTC version is surely much better. ... re=related
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Re: CONCERT REPORT: Portland, Oregon, December 8

Post by Inna »

sturgess66 wrote:A pre-concert article by Jeff Baker - with input provided via email from Roscoe Beck, Charley & Hattie Webb and Pico Iyer - ... e_por.html
Leonard Cohen Makes a Rare Portland Appearance on Dec. 8

Published: Friday, December 03, 2010, 10:40 AM
Updated: Friday, December 03, 2010, 10:57 AM
Jeff Baker, The Oregonian


"Those of us who meet him only through his records (which is most of us) or in his concerts can easily forget this; his grounding, his first love, his foundation is in literature and the spirit."

-- Jeff Baker
Just wanted to say that this is a good article, though I must disagree with quoted Pico Iyer here, because by listening to the words of the songs one cannot escape the sense that a writer, a poet has written these lines; one definitely senses LC's literary roots in mere listening and absorbing of the lyrics.
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Re: CONCERT REPORT: Portland, Oregon, December 8

Post by MaryB »

sturgess66 wrote:A pre-concert article by Jeff Baker ... e_por.html

someone whose vocal range makes Bob Dylan sound like Pavarotti
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Re: CONCERT REPORT: Portland, Oregon, December 8

Post by sturgess66 »

From Williamette Week Online (Portland, Oregon) - a pre-concert article -
Perhaps Love Is, In Fact, A Victory March
Leonard Cohen takes one more lap.

IMAGE: Adam Krueger

BY NICK JAINA | 503-243-2122

[December 8th, 2010]

I saw Leonard Cohen two years ago in Baltimore, at what I thought would be my last opportunity.

He played in an outside pavilion in a miserable cold rain, but onstage he radiated all the warmth of the center of the Earth. He took his hat off after every song and embraced the applause like a man who would never hear another clap again.

What Leonard Cohen seems to be saying: Soak this up. We don’t know how long we get, you with me or I with you.

I decided right then, watching this old man who’s written more brilliant lyrics than everyone in the world combined, that if Cohen could be graceful in the swirl of applause at the end of his life, then there’s no reason for me to ever be ungrateful for anything. I try to live this way, and then forget. It’s hard to keep in mind we’re all going to die someday. There will be moments where I can hold an image of Cohen’s smiling, crinkled face in my mind, and I can embody that as I receive some bounty on my plate and respond to the giver that I am thankful. But then, at the next meal, I’m back to sulking with my elbows on the table, pushing the Brussels sprouts to the far end of the plate, begging to be excused to watch some mind-erasing television program.

We’re all kids at the dinner table, no matter how old we get.

I don’t know how Cohen got to such a place, but his spirit left a bigger impression than any guitar solo or drum fill ever has. I would try to squint my eyes and wish his band away; polished as they were, they were just too fancy for such a show. I was hoping to just have Cohen and nothing else, though the contrast between him and the overzealous musicians was probably what made everything so striking. How many times have you left a concert floored by someone’s humility?

Maybe his is a groundedness discovered in the Buddhist monastery where he spent several years, or in the loss of his savings to a manager who stole it while Cohen was meditating. Gratitude is certainly not a trait you find in songwriters from the ’60s still performing today.

If you see Bob Dylan live, you don’t get the impression he particularly cares that you’re there at all. See Paul McCartney and you feel like you’re just another cardboard-cutout fan in the Disneyland ride of his life. But go see Cohen and you really feel like you’re participating in the knighting of a saint, or the sainting of a knight, or you’re getting to eulogize someone while he’s still alive and beaming with pride about his good fortune.

I can’t say Cohen’s transition from soft-voiced folk singer to strip-mine-voiced soft-jazz growler was easy for me as a listener. I once bought a cassette of his 1992 album, The Future, for a road trip, somehow hoping to hear echoes of the man who sang “Suzanne” so tenderly. I couldn’t handle the doom in his voice as he sang about crack and anal sex, and I had to throw the tape out the window to hold onto my image of him, like spitting out a sip from a corked bottle of wine.

I was unwilling to embrace Cohen getting older. And it’s usually such a diminished road to follow your favorite singer into his 60s and beyond. But when I saw Cohen on that stage in Baltimore, it was like seeing him perform from the afterworld. All the weather and wear was in his voice, but none of the bleakness. It was like watching your grandfather sit on top of your family tree, singing you to sleep with every lullaby your mother never sang you.

Nick Jaina is a Portland-based songwriter, musician and writer. His tour diaries and columns can be found at

SEE IT: Leonard Cohen plays at the Rose Garden Wednesday, Dec. 8, at 8 pm. $49.50-$200. All ages.
Last edited by sturgess66 on Thu Dec 09, 2010 2:56 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: CONCERT REPORT: Portland, Oregon, December 8

Post by sturgess66 »

More Portland concert publicity - from ... nd-tonight
76-Year-Old Leonard Cohen to Perform for the First Time in Portland Tonight

December 8th, 2010 3:08 pm PT
By Amy Carrier
Portland Rose Garden Examiner


"And I just don't care what happens next. Looks like freedom but it feels like death. It's something in between, I guess it's closing time."

I can relate to the lyrics of Leonard Cohen's "Closing Time" and feel a connection with this legend because the Leonard Cohen concert will be the last event that I work at the arena. In late December, I will be leaving the Rose Quarter and taking up life in New Zealand. Though it’s a last for me, it is a first for the 76-year-old singer-songwriter; his sold-out show tonight marks the first time he has ever performed in Portland, and his three-hour performance promises to be nothing short of spectacular. Cohen plans to return to the studio in 2011, but this is a special show because it’s rumored that he may never pass back through this part of the country on tour again.

According to Cohen's biography, "His songs have set a virtually unmatched standard in their seriousness and range. Sex, spirituality, religion, power – he has relentlessly examined the largest issues in human lives, always with a full appreciation of how elusive answers can be to the vexing questions he raises. But those questions, and the journey he has traveled in seeking to address them, are the ever-shifting substance of his work, as well as the reasons why his songs never lose their overwhelming emotional force." His career has spanned five decades, and his music has touched millions of lives including mine; as I am about to embark on the biggest adventure of my life, I too seek answers to some of life's biggest questions.

Leonard Cohen will bring his world tour to the Theater of the Clouds on Wednesday, December 8. The show begins at 8:00 PM, I will be escorting the local media for tonight's show, so when Leonard Cohen takes the stage I can't guarantee that I won't get emotional. So although it is "closing time" for me, the show must go on, and what a show it will be!
Last edited by sturgess66 on Thu Dec 09, 2010 3:14 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: CONCERT REPORT: Portland, Oregon, December 8

Post by sue7 »

Thanks for these articles, Linda. The Nick Jaina article in particular...
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Re: CONCERT REPORT: Portland, Oregon, December 8

Post by sturgess66 »


The Portland venue is the Rose Garden, a multi-purpose arena opened in 1995 that hosts sports events and concerts. The Rose Garden was specially constructed to include curtains and a one-of-a-kind acoustic cloud, in order to transform the large arena into a theatrical setting, suitable for intimate shows of 3,000 to 6,500 guests - the Rose Quarter Theater of the Clouds.
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Re: CONCERT REPORT: Portland, Oregon, December 8

Post by sturgess66 »

Sadly, I think tumblr is a total fail and there will be no live updates from Joey - :cry: :cry:

BUT - here is some Twitter traffic. Every time there is a Leonard Cohen show (or any Leonard Cohen news) there is a big upward spike of tweets about “The Man.” Some of them may be forum members – but I suspect that the majority of these people are not – but his fans abound and they are fans and obviously love Leonard Cohen! And they are excited about the show. :D :D :D

From people planning on attending tonight – or already sitting in their lucky seats at the venue -
tylermays - Leonard Cohen show tonight! I hope he sings that one song. The one wherein he sings words.
djrhienna - mere hours away from sharing the same space as leonard effing cohen.
girlvaughn - Hopefully there's not cowboy with a huge hat in front of me at Leonard Cohen. I think I'll be safe.
LacyBartholomew - Sooo excited to take Haeley to see Leonard Cohen tonight!!
ashodsimonian - Just saw Leonard Cohen at Burgerville...Psyche.
Heisroasters - Getting ready to go see Leonard Cohen, pretty excited.
follypdx - leonard cohen tonight!!
follypdx - teal tights + silver shoes + black lace dress = ready to go to see Leonard Cohen!
RoonPDX - Leonard Cohen tonight.
TheCulprit - So happy to finally see Leonard Cohen, and from right up front too! (@ Rose Garden Arena w/ 5 others)
mtrichardson - Looking forward to Leonard Cohen.
corygrove - I bet you are just crushing the Rose Garden right now Leonard Cohen. You romantic son of a bitch.
endhits - Two of Leonard Cohen's backup singers just did cartwheels. I wasn't expecting any acrobatics at this show.
alissacorinne81 - Leonard Cohen!
DIYgirl - SO lucky to be here watching Leonard Cohen live.
endhits End Hits - Leonard Cohen takes musical elements that would be schlock or kitsch in lesser hands, and somehow elevates them.
endhits- Leonard Cohen's voice might sound better now than it ever has in his life.
EMEKstudios -All is right in the world. Right here right now. Am I dreaming? No. Leonard Cohen concert. One of the worlds great treasures. Amazing.
endhits - Never have members of someone's band received such flowery, poetic introductions as the ones Leonard Cohen is bestowing on his.
OssieBladine - "We started this tour three years ago. I was 73; just a kid with a crazy dream." - Leonard Cohen @ the Rose Garden. Awesome.
SalamanderHouse - Halftime at the Leonard Cohen show. Incredible doesn't even begin to describe it.
oregonianmusic - Intermission at Leonard Cohen: too much brilliant for Twitter.
gretchenpeters - Intermission at the Leonard Cohen show in Portland. So far, a master lesson in, well, everything.
adamtonkin - Leonard Cohen is putting on a great show.
tinabue - Leonard Cohen is
endhits - You might think the song is a little played out, but hearing Leonard Cohen do "Hallelujah" was pretty goddamn breathtaking.
vicarpac - Leonard Cohen: 76 years old, 3 1/2 hour show. I lost count of the encores. He skipped off stage every time. Sweet Mother of God. Impressive.
jdoerr01 - Leonard Cohen - Tower of Song....simply amazing!
OssieBladine - For his 6th encore song, Leonard Cohen played "Closing Time". He then kept playing. The man would play all night if they let him.
follypdx - amazing night! Leonard Cohen gives GREAT show!
alissacorinne81 - I'm 29 and I'm exhausted. Leonard Cohen is 76 and he was still skipping at the end of a 3+ hour show. God, that was good.
jennaluna - First night back in Portland: Leonard Cohen. Best. Night. Ever. He was beyond amazing. Funny, sweet, humble, absolutely beautiful. Wow.
SalamanderHouse - I have seen hundreds of concerts. Leonard Cohen leaves them all in the dust. #epic
pla5 - Leonard Cohen, 76, at the Rose Garden pdx. 3.5 hours of music and poetry. Quite amazing performance. "Hallelujah."
heile - Leonard Cohen was mind blowing. One of the best shows I've ever seen, by a long shot.
Last edited by sturgess66 on Thu Dec 09, 2010 12:57 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: CONCERT REPORT: Portland, Oregon, December 8

Post by sturgess66 »

Looks like tumblr is back and Joey is catching up - getting through. :D :D

A quick sketch for a fan before heading to the venue.
* Portland, Oregon
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Re: CONCERT REPORT: Portland, Oregon, December 8

Post by dce »

Seen on Joey's tumblr page under the caption "Hello Arlene":


wow ... good work, Arlene. That really *is* something for the scrapbook!

Dean (from Adelaide)
(For most of November 2010, I followed Leonard and the band as they toured around Australia and New Zealand. You can read about my wanderings on the blog I created to collect them all in one place:
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Re: CONCERT REPORT: Portland, Oregon, December 8

Post by FanForLife »

Lenny and the band were on form tonight, difficult to believe that this tight and energetic performance was by the same "walking dead" we saw plodding around the stage on Monday night in Oakland. Some really top notch performances here especially before the interval. And Famous Blue Raincoat was as good as it gets. Early finish compared to the usual - off the stage by 11.25pm.

Sharon wasn't taking chances tonight when it came to The Partisan. She stood so far back from the microphone making it quite obvious that no matter what Lenny cocked up she wasn't gonna end up going a solo in the middle of that one, thanks very much. Did anybody detect a little tension on stage coming from that direction ?

Here is a pic of Lenny saying goodnight for the final time. Sorry about the quality but for whatever reason this forum won't allow a high resolution upload.
Goodnight Portland Low.jpg
2008 - dublin (kilmainham - the best, ever)
2009 - dublin (The Point) and tampa and NY(MSG) and san jose
2010 - sligo (second best) and oakland and portland and las vegas
2011 - lenny and me were resting, so we were
2012 - dublin (kilmainham again) and austin
2013 - dublin (The Point, 2 times)
2014 & 2015-enjoying the memories and saving the pennies; just in case; just in case..............
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