The Leonard Cohen Personal Touch
I did my best, it wasn’t much
I couldn’t feel, so I tried to touch
I’ve told the truth, I didn’t come to the great city of Dublin to fool you [emphasis mine]
In Dublin and other locales, Leonard Cohen’s insertion of the city’s name1 into the last verse of “Hallelujah” has proved a reliable crowd-pleaser during his World Tour.
Recently, unconfirmed stories have leaked from the Cohen organization suggesting that, building on the popularity of such personalization as well as the positive response to the various shticks, such as the cartwheels by the Webb Sisters during “The Future,” that have evolved into expected parts of the performances, each of the USA concerts on the final leg of the Leonard Cohen World Tour beginning this Fall will feature venue-specific components of a grander scale than the customization of a line in a song.
Now, Heck Of A Guy operatives have secured a video of a fragment of a Cohen rehearsal which supports those rumors.
Current Concert Finale
As ongoing Heck Of A Guy readers and Leonard Cohen fans know, the final scene in the World Tour concerts has typically been the entire crew gathering to sing “Whither Thou Goest,” after which Cohen says his final words and the blessings. Those not familiar with this portion of the performance may wish to view this video from the Weybridge concert as an exemplar.
Leonard Cohen – Concert Conclusion (Weybridge – July 11, 2009)
New York-Specific Concert Finale
While that format has been well received in general, there is apparently concern in the Cohen camp that it may be too drab and somber for the New York crowd. And, one cannot help but wonder if the decisions re the revised New York finale were not influenced by criticisms leveled against the May 2009 Radio City Music Hall concert by one blog, excerpted here and dissected discussed at some length at This Is New York, Cohen, We Know When You’re Faking It – And Your Intermission Is Interminable:
This is New York, Cohen. Don’t tell the same jokes that are all over “Live In London”. Don’t throw “New York” in the middle of “Hallelujiah” (and don’t kill the rhymes -you wrote em, sing em). Don’t wait for the applause when you sing “First We’ll Take Manhattan”…. in a word, don’t go on automatic, we’re NYC, we know when you’re faking it.
In any case, this brief section of the rehearsal of the final number for the last Leonard Cohen World Tour New York concert is striking.
Fragment From Rehearsal Of New York Concert Finale
And As For The Other Sin City
We have also received word that one of the blessings to be used only at the Las Vegas show is Never stand on a soft 17.
- A note to aspiring Rock Gods and their counterparts in other genres: As various musicians have discovered, the effectiveness of this sort of tactic diminishes significantly if the name of the city used differs from that of the municipality in which the concert is currently hosted. When Usher, for example, greeted a crowd of 30,000 at a 2008 concert with a hearty “Hello Manchester,” the fans at that performance, which was, unfortunately for Mr Usher, located in Maidstone, Kent, were not neither amused nor impressed. [↩]