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Leonard Cohen at Mile One – St. John's Review

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Leonard Cohen at Mile One — St. John’s Review

Leonard Cohen at Mile One - Cred: Shawn Peckford

Leonard Cohen at Mile One – Cred: Shawn Peckford

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WHO — Leonard Cohen
FROM — Montreal, Quebec
WHERE — Mile One Centre, St. John’s Newfoundland
WHEN — Saturday April 20 2013


STYLE — Singer/Songwriter

CROWD — There was a constant sense of love, excitement and fulfillment. The only negative of the whole evening was that many had left the building after 3.5 hours and missed the last 4 of the 7 encore selections.

STAGE — Subtle and minimal, yet beautiful. A combination of purples and reds against a flowing white curtain.
Simple mood creating effect of 2 spot lights reflecting “giant Leonard shadows” on the backdrop, gave the set the feel of a giant coffeehouse.

IMAGE/SEX APPEAL – An image bigger than life! Cohen is arguably the “sexiest senior” on the planet — both in
style and substance. Add the sublime beauty of backing vocalists: Hattie and Charley Webb, (from Kent, UK) and you arguably have the most beautiful tour in history. Their performance of “If It Be Your Will” remains a highlight of the tour.

MUSICAL ABILITY — Along with some of the greatest emotional and introspective lyrics in popular music, the live Cohen journey is enhanced by the impeccable playing of a band of masters. 12 string Spanish virtuoso Javier Mas, producer/composer Neil Larsen on keyboards and musical director/bassist Roscoe Beck received constant acclaim from a very appreciative audience.


ORIGINALITY — Lyrics with unequalled depth and an incomparable voice of distinction. A literary giant, poet, musician and novelist, Cohen is also a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Following the lead laid down by the late Stevie Ray Vaughn, fellow Texan Mitch Watkins nailed the album solo of “First We Take Manhattan”, resulting in the first standing ovation of the evening.


TECHNICAL — As close to perfection as a live show gets! The only ‘glitch’, if you wish to call it that, was a playfull moment during “Tower of Song” where Leonards’ hand accidentally slips and hits the keyboard. The beauty of the moment brought a smile from Mr Cohen and his bandmates, making it more an act of humanity than mishap, further endearing him to the crowd.

MEMORABLE SONG — It is impossible to deny the transcendence of “Hallelujah”, a true ‘out of body’ experience, especially for those seeing Cohen for the first time. One thing that can not be denied is the admiration for Cohen, however he himself shows the same respect for longtime collaborator Sharon Robinson. Ms Robinson brought the house to its feet with her solo performance on “Alexandra Leaving”, a wrenching ballad of love and loss.

MEMORABLE MOMENT — I love how Cohen exposes his inner self, not only through his lyrics, but ancedotal commentary: “Lighten up Cohen, for Christs sake! How long are You going to pout?” For me, the golden moment of any Cohen performance is the truly gifted pleasure of a recitation from the poet himself — “A Thousand Kisses Deep”.

COMMENTS — Five years removed from a 3 night residence at Holy Heart Theatre (capacity 1000 – shows which are widely regarded the greatest concerts of any genre in Newfoundland history), Cohen answered with nearly 4 hours of wondrous narrative — taking the stage at 8:10pm and concluding at 11:55pm! It is astounding that a 78 year old performer follows a full 3 hour set with 7 encore songs, including a rare Cohen cover — Ben E Kings’ “Save the Last Dance For Me”. Perhaps the best part of the evening.


Review By: Alexander Chisholm
Photos By: Shawn Peckford

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