Listen to Leonard Cohen’s Recent Beacon Show

The following review of this, Cohen’s first show in the U.S. in fifteen years, is courtesy of Bob Boilen and

Listen to the concert here.

Leonard Cohen
First, this concert is historic and a knockout. Leonard Cohen is a brilliant poet and songwriter. Second, Cohen may be coming to a town near you [dates available here]. If you have a chance to see him live, don’t pass it up.

At 74, Cohen is no spring chicken. That said, his voice was in fine form and his stage presence is so graceful and passionate that you may rethink all those other great shows you’ve seen by younger artists.

This concert, from the gorgeous Beacon Theatre in Manhattan, finds Cohen revisiting a body of work that’s more than 40 years deep and full of songs that have inspired every generation of songwriters since: “Dance Me to the End of Love,” “Bird on a Wire,” “Chelsea Hotel,” “Sisters of Mercy,” “Suzanne,” “Hallelujah,” “I’m Your Man,” “Famous Blue Raincoat.”

Cohen performs these songs with a talented band of musicians, including his collaborator and singer Sharon Robinson, as well as his other backup vocalists in The Webb Sisters. Here’s the lineup:

Roscoe Beck, musical director, electric bass, stand-up bass, background vocals
Rafael Bernardo Gayol, drums and percussion
Neil Larsen, keyboards
Dino Soldo, wind instruments, harmonica, keyboard, and background vocals
Bob Metzger, lead guitar, pedal steel guitar
Javier Mas, banduria, laud, archilaud, 12-string guitar

Of these musicians, Mas is the one that Leonard Cohen would often get down on one knee and serenade — when he’s not stopping to listen. Mas’ performance on a variety of stringed instruments gave Cohen’s sound a European flavor, and reminded me at times of a sound I heard in Portugal, called Fado. Fado is a bittersweet style music filled with longing and yearning. I heard it in Leonard Cohen’s music while watching him perform at the Beacon Theatre, and it was wonderful to know that, at 74, he’s still injecting new life into his old classics.

Special thanks to MSG Entertainment and the Beacon Theatre.

Leonard Cohen tour dates available here.

Listen to the concert here.

Download this show in the ‘Live Concerts From All Songs Considered’ podcast.