Leonard Cohen appeared before a sell-out crowd at the Chicago Theatre tonight. We were thrilled to be there.
Similar to the Bob Dylan concerts we saw a few years ago, it was amazing to see a musical legend performing right in front of us. Unlike Dylan, Cohen was engaging, funny (!), and seemed to be having a wonderful time as he played through his catalog. He expressed his appreciation to the audience and his bandmates several times through the show, tipping his hat and bowing after every song. Not once did his actions seem insincere.
I’ve only been to a few shows where more than a single standing ovation was given, and I counted no fewer than seven during this show, including the minutes-long ovation Cohen received when he first walked on stage.
Cohen welcomed the audience to the show by saying he hadn’t been around for about 15 years, when he was 60 years old and “just a kid with a head full of crazy ideas.” He also told us how the years have treated him, listing off the (prescription) medications he’s experienced along with his delving into various religions. This latter effort was often thwarted because “cheerfulness kept breaking through.”
He covered all his hits, including “I’m Your Man,” “Bird on a Wire,” “Suzanne,” and of course “Hallelujah.” The band was tight, and the songs were all wonderfully arranged. One of my favorite moments of the night was when “Tower of Song” was given the same cheesy arrangement that appears on the I’m Your Man album, complete with Leonard plinking out notes on a small keyboard.
The sound was amazing: the band was tight and we could hear every note that was played. You can get a taste of what the show sounded like by picking up the new release Live in London which came out last month.
The audience seemed to be mostly in their mid to late 50s, although there were several people there in the early to mid 20s, which speaks to Cohen’s appeal.
After the final song of the second set, Cohen and the band came back for a great rendition of “First We Take Manhattan.” This was followed by two more encores, and the show ended around 11:30 pm.
“We don’t know when our paths will cross again,” Cohen said at the end of the evening. We’re just glad they crossed tonight.

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