Leonard Cohen Opening Concert in Austin, October 31.12 - Preliminary Report

November 1, 2012
View from my front row side way off to the side stage right
I posted the following report on the Leonard Cohen Forum

The opening concert in Austin was glorious!
It had freshness and energy. Those were the two words that came to mind while I sat there.

The venue was great - a beautiful theatre with great sound.
My seat and the venue restrictive camera policy were not so great.
More on that later.

These are from my note jottings around 2am.

1. The concert started 15 minutes late. But I don't know why.
2. I love the new lighting design. Youtube videos don't do it justice. The lighting is innovate and fresh.
3. There were a lot of "I/we love you" shout-outs during the concert. LC responded to the first one, but I couldn't hear what he said.
4. The audience was terrific, fully involved, very appreciative, lots of shout-outs but still very respectful, several standing ovations.
5. For 3 or 4 songs, the backing singers went off stage and brought back three black square low stools to sit on. After each of the songs was over, they took the stools off stage.

Night Comes On
Biggest thrill of the concert for me.
It is my favourite song and I had tears when LC sang it so beautifully.

Alexandra Leaving
Biggest thrill of the concert 1A - Sharon Robinson singing this just a few feet from me.
The audience gave Sharon one of the loudest, most sustained applause of the concert.

Come Healing
The Webb Sisters's tour de force up so close gave me shivers. Very moving.
The audience loved them.

Anthem intros
Mitch Watkins and Roscoe Beck, both current residents of Austin, received loud sustained cheering when introduced.
For Roscoe's intro, LC usually notes Roscoe's birth town, Poughkeepsie, but not tonight.

1000 Kisses deep
This was such a nice surprise. I always love hearing LC recite his poems.
Big smile on my face for this one.

Who By Fire
Maestro Javier Mas plumbed the depths of his vast diverse talent and delivered a fresh sounding amazing intro. It was spellbinding.

Tower of Song

After LC's one handed solo and the audience applause, he responded, "You have good taste."
At the ending do dum dums. he asked the ladies not to stop...said something like, I need the quiet...to get back to dealing with a contentious audience... you always sing quietly and I thank you for that. (maybe someone else noted his exact words)

I'm your man
Near the begining of the song he usually sings "I'll wear a mask for you"
Last night he sang "...Hallowe'en mask..."
Later in the song, as usual, he sang "I'll wear an old man's mask for you"
Lots of cheers and extended applause at the end of this song

LC included one of his "original" verses. It was a great delight to hear him sing this.

You say I took the Name in vain
I don't even know the Name
But if I did, well really, what's it to you?
There's a blaze of light
In every word
It doesn't matter which you heard
The holy or the broken Hallelujah


I found it very moving when they sang the Partisan standing all together at the front of the stage. The powerful effect it had on me with that staging just doesn't come across on a video. When they segued to Democracy, I thought how fitting the placement of these two songs.

Neil Larsen
Being in a seat way off to stage right (even further back from Charley) with LC and stage left mostly blocked by sound monitors, I tended to focus a lot on the backing singers and Neil Larsen. My notes say Neil was hot. He was a joy to watch all evening. And his musical output was fabulous.


Re: the venue
1. Back in May, when the ticket system showed a front row seat, third seat in from the end, I accepted it. It was a horrible seat. It is my fault.
I shall never accept that kind of seat again. For Austin 2 tonight, I have a more central seat a little further back after the Pit break. I hope to see a lot more of LC and the rest of the stage tonight.

2. I was stopped from taking videos and actually threatened they would confiscate my camera, and I would be "taken out".
Respecting the fierce Texans and wishing to avoid another Texas chainsaw massacre, I believed they would indeed physically remove a grandmother with a cane. So I put my camera away.

At intermission I spoke to the venue senior security liaison with the tour who cited "tour company instructions" and "by request of the artist".


  1. thank you for the beautiful report Arlene!

  2. Many thanks, Arlene.
    Your report is almost as good as being there.
    Good luck for tonight.

  3. During the first half of the 3rd show at the Manchester Opera House in June 2008, one of the ushers shouted "no photographs" across the stalls whilst the band were playing. I saw red and, during the interval I sought out and remonstrated at great length with theatre management. I pointed out that no cameras had spoiled my enjoyment of the show but the behaviour of their staff most definitely had. From that day on, cameras have been quietly tolerated and the only time I can remember security stopping people from taking photos was the first Las Vegas show in December 2010 - there may of course have been others but these must be the exception rather than the rule. Even the rather stuffy NAC in Ottawa allowed photographs at Leonard's shows!

    For a long time, they did try to stop anyone trying to video the shows. We sat next to Rob Hallett at the Brighton concert in November 2008. He spent the whole show looking out for the tell-tale red lights and jumping up to tell security so they could take action. However, it's a long time since I've seen or heard of anyone being stopped from taking video. There may be something to the effect of "no video" in the standard contract but I've always got the impression that theatres and security are requested to take a "light touch". I always thought Austin would be really laid back - apparently not and I can understand why it would spoil your enjoyment of the show.

    I hope you will be taking photos and video tonight Arlene. They won't be able to get to you further back in the middle of a row!