×

Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen doesn't have fans; he has worshipers. And while there have never been quite enough of them to make any of the Canadian poet's 11 albums big moneymakers, there are certainly enough to fill the Wiltern to overflowing two nights in a row.

With:
Band: Leonard Cohen, Bob Metzger, Paul Ostermayer, Bill Ginn, Bob Furgo, Jorge Calderon, Steve Meador, Julie Christensen, Perla Batalla.

Leonard Cohen doesn’t have fans; he has worshipers. And while there have never been quite enough of them to make any of the Canadian poet’s 11 albums big moneymakers, there are certainly enough to fill the Wiltern to overflowing two nights in a row.

Cohen gets a standing ovation when he starts a show — for having survived to get there, as much as anything else. At 59, he has become the elder statesman of angst. The poet laureate of pain. Edith Piaf with chest hair.

For three hours, Cohen and an exquisite six-piece backing band (plus two vocalists) worked out his Tom-Waits-with-a-hangover voice on his it’s-either-poetry-or-suicide lyrics. He played a little one-handed keyboard, picked a little flamenco guitar.

But mostly he just stood there, in his tasteful dark suit, and healed the psychic walking wounded by being one of them. The show leaned heavily on material from the last two Columbia albums, “I’m Your Man” and “The Future.”

And “I’m Your Man” contains some wonderful material: “First We Take Manhattan ,””Everybody Knows,””Tower of Song.” But some listeners would have given their eyeteeth for a taste of classics like “That’s No Way to Say Goodbye” or “The Stranger Song.”

Most listeners were also hungry for more human contact than Cohen’s scripted song introductions provided. There was no extemporaneous chat in the whole set.

If this were your only experience with the singer/songwriter, you’d come away thinking he’s some dour religioso, taking himself far too seriously. In fact, Cohen is perfectly aware of his image, finds it amusing, and normally goofs on it with deliciously dry humor.

Staged with elegant lighting (complete with stained-glass colors) and accompanied by stellar players (kudos especially to sax/keyboardist Paul Ostermayer), the show was perfectly attuned to the upper-demo crowd. The impeccably behaved audience acted like they were at the Philharmonic … or in church. “Your pain is no credential/It’s just the shadow of my wound,” sang Cohen, as his logo — a heart and handcuffs — glowed on the wall. And he touched your perfect body with his mind.

Popular on Variety

Leonard Cohen

(Wiltern Theatre; 2,300 capacity; $ 37.50 top)

Production: Promoted by Avalon. Reviewed Monday, July 5, 1993.

Cast: Band: Leonard Cohen, Bob Metzger, Paul Ostermayer, Bill Ginn, Bob Furgo, Jorge Calderon, Steve Meador, Julie Christensen, Perla Batalla.

More Legit

  • David-Alan-Grier-Blair-Underwood

    David Alan Grier and Blair Underwood to Star in 'A Soldier's Play' on Broadway

    David Alan Grier and Blair Underwood will star in a Broadway production of Pulitzer-Prize winning drama “A Soldier’s Play.” The play, written by Charles Fuller, is set in 1944 and follows a murder mystery centered around the death of black Sergeant Vernon C. Waters (played by Grier) who is found on a Louisiana army base. [...]

  • The Inheritance review

    'The Inheritance' Announces Broadway Cast

    After an Olivier-winning run in London, “The Inheritance” is gearing up for its Broadway debut. The two-part epic has set the cast for its transfer from the West End to the Great White Way. John Benjamin Hickey, Paul Hilton, Samuel H. Levine, Andrew Burnap and Kyle Soller are among the cast members reprising their roles [...]

  • Patrick Page, Amber Grey, Eva Noblezada,

    'Hadestown' Announces 2020 National Tour

    ‘Hadestown’, the eight-time Tony award winning Broadway musical, is set for a national tour in 2020. The show will stop in more than 30 cities including Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New Orleans, and more. The musical is a stage adaptation of the Greek myths of Orpheus and Eurydice and King Hades and his wife [...]

  • Jake Gyllenhaal

    Listen: Why Jake Gyllenhaal Is His 'Best Self' in the Theater

    Looking for the best possible version of Jake Gyllenhaal? You’ll find it onstage, according to the actor himself. Listen to this week’s podcast below: “I am my best self when I’m working in the theater,” Gyllenhaal said on the latest episode Stagecraft, Variety’s theater podcast, on which he appeared with Carrie Cracknell, the director of [...]

  • Photo: Jeremy Daniel

    'The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical' Gets Broadway Run

    “The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical” is Broadway bound. The musical adaptation of the franchise about a teenager who discovers he’s the son of Poseidon hits the Great White Way on Sept. 20 ahead of an Oct. 16 opening night. It comes on the heels of an extensive, nationwide tour that took the show [...]

  • Tom Sturridge Jake Gyllenhaal

    Jake Gyllenhaal and Tom Sturridge Celebrate 'Sea Wall/A Life' With Star-Studded Opening Night

    A star-studded audience looked on as Jake Gyllenhaal and Tom Sturridge returned to the stage for their double monologue performance in “Sea Wall/A Life.” Theater-goers and celebs including Anne Hathaway, Tom Hiddleston and John Mulaney gathered in Manhattan’s Hudson Theatre for opening night, celebrating a show tackling grief, birth and death through the eyes of [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content