The 1988 Wiltern Theatre Cohen Concert Program
And, no, it’s not the program for the Cohen concert at the Budapest Wiltern or the Paris Wiltern or the Munich Wiltern or …
It’s the program for the Cohen concert at the Los Angeles Wiltern Theatre – which, in 1988, was located in the USA.
We know this is the program for the 1988 Wiltern show because Valerie Shertzman, who contributed the program, was there on October 30, 1988. In addition to the program, Valerie, who was attending her first Leonard Cohen concert, offers these memories:
The main thing I remember was John Bilezikjian playing the oud with a feather, I had never seen anything like it, and that drew my attention every time it was played. Julie and Perla singing “Who by Fire?” was a show stopper.
I had “Songs” and “Recent Songs” so most of the playlist was new to me, though there was plenty that was familiar to me. I was impressed when he sang “I was born with the gift of a golden voice” dripping with enough irony to let the audience in on the joke. It was greeted with a great deal of laughter. There was some banter with some in the front rows, it was friendly and started by him.
Who By Fire performed in San Sebastian during the 1988 Leonard Cohen Tour
The only other reference to this show I find on the internet (other than a listing of the 1988 Tour venues) are these brief lines from Ali, writing at Blueprint Blue:
… October 30, 1988. My friend and roommate John and I had gone to see one of our idols – Leonard Cohen – perform at the Wiltern Theatre in Los Angeles. I still consider it one of the best concerts I’ve ever attended.
The 1988 Wiltern Theatre Cohen Concert Poster
While the signage for this concert, shown below, has been previously posted, comparing its block lettered simplicity to the poster for the previous night’s concert at the Fillmore in San Francisco, is instructive.
The Wiltern Theatre
For that matter, the bland poster is also in marked contrast to the brilliantly ornate venue itself.
- As a Lenny-come-lately who began following Leonard Cohen’s career only a few years before his 2008-2010 World Tour, I’ve been accustomed to the internet-powered flow of information about the Canadian singer-songwriter’s concerts that renders time and geographical barriers irrelevant.
During the World Tour, for example, Heck Of A Guy routinely composed posts on computers located in Durham, North Carolina about Cohen’s shows concluded only hours earlier in Belfast, Tel Aviv, Barcelona, Bucharest, Glace Bay, Auckland, Philadelphia, … that featured high quality photos and videos of the performance and first hand reports by concert-goers. In addition, articles about the shows published in foreign newspapers and magazines are available online and can easily, if not always elegantly, be translated by Google and other internet services.
It was, in fact, not uncommon to broadcast information about ongoing concerts of special interest, such as the post, Leonard Cohen Tel Aviv Concert In Progress, which published the following immediately after the statement was uttered:
After “Ain’t No Cure” and “Bird On The Wire,” Leonard Cohen addressed the audience in Hebrew, saying, “It is an honor to play here for you here in Israel (…) We are going to give you everything tonight, for peace, for you and us…“
Moreover, the immediacy and ease of communication afforded by the internet encourages those attending concerts to upload more videos to YouTube, enter more concert reports in blogs and forums, and post more photos.
Consequently, cognitive dissonance results upon discovering that many Cohen concerts, unless a reporter or critic happened to be in the crowd, escaped notice except by those actually in attendance. Heck, we are still discovering concerts given by Leonard Cohen that have not been accurately memorialized as even a line on a list.
Heck Of A Guy has already published descriptions of little remembered Cohen Concerts. Many of the 1970 Leonard Cohen Tour posts, for example, focus on concerts about which only scattered bits of information were available. Researching those shows, in fact, turned up at least two previously unlisted concerts.
Today, however, we’re making The Orphan Leonard Cohen Concerts an official Heck Of A Guy cause. We’re going to show a little love for these stealth performances, posting whatever can be found about the otherwise forgotten concerts – even if that’s no more than a single memory lovingly preserved in the mind of an audience member. [↩]