Jan 252017
 
leonard cohen tribute

Last night, Brooklyn’s Music Hall of Williamsburg held an epic Leonard Cohen tribute show, bringing together Cohen’s peers and younger admirers for a 22-song blowout of tribute covers. From a killer instrumental opener of “Hallelujah” by Delicate Steve – a smart move, getting that out of the way up front with a left-field guitar version that doesn’t attempt to compete with Jeff Buckley – the sold-out crowd sang along to Cohen many profound lyrics, and a few of his profound ones too (Lenny Kaye of the Patti Smith Group led a rousing holler through Cohen’s dumbest song, “Don’t Go Home with Your Hard-On”).

Many of performers had personal Cohen stories to share. “I met Leonard Cohen at a BBC session in 1967 – but I can’t remember anything about it,” Richard Thompson quipped, while Josh Ritter told a yarn about chasing Cohen down an alley backstage only to run headfirst into a truck and miss his once chance. Richard’s son Teddy Thompson recalled Cohen once asking him what he was working on. When he replied that he was making a country album, Cohen said cryptically, “I went country myself, once…” Thompson then covered one of Cohen’s most country songs, “Ballad of the Absent Mare.”

Other performanice highlights included Low Cut Connie’s Adam Weiner jumping up on his piano for a rousing “Everybody Knows,” Arc Iris’ shaker-and-harmonies “Lover Lover Lover”, and Okkervil River‘s Will Sheff (no stranger to Cohen covers) doing “Take This Waltz” and leading the all-hands-on-deck finale “So Long, Marianne.” The secret stars though were the crack house band that built up to as many fourteen people on stage at one point, the core of which was Josh Kaufman, Walter Martin of the Walkmen, Annie Nero, and Ray Rizzo often augmented by jazz-guitar whiz Dave Harrington of Darkside and backing singers Leslie Mendelsohn, Cassandra Jenkins, and Jocie Adams of Arc Iris.

We’ve got videos of many of the highlights below, then the full setlist at the bottom.

Richard Thompson – Bird on a Wire

Richard Thompson – Story of Isaac

Josh Ritter – Chelsea Hotel #2

Low Cut Connie’s Adam Weiner – Everybody Knows

Arc Iris – Lover Lover Lover

Amy Helm – Hey, That’s No Way to Say Goodbye

Lenny Kaye – Reading from Leonard Cohen’s ‘Beautiful Losers’

Lenny Kaye – Don’t Go Home with Your Hard-On

Elvis Perkins – Is This What You Wanted?

Lee Ranaldo of Sonic Youth – Famous Blue Raincoat

Will Sheff of Okkervil River – Take This Waltz

Will Sheff and Everyone – So Long, Marianne (partial)

Ian O’Neil of Deer Tick – Memories (partial)

Teddy Thompson – Tower of Song (partial)

A video posted by Susie Maksymowicz (@elsuzo) on

Teddy Thompson – Ballad of the Absent Mare (partial)

A video posted by Susie Maksymowicz (@elsuzo) on

‘Sincerely, L. Cohen: A Celebration of Leonard Cohen’ Complete Setlist
Delicate Steve – Hallelujah
Osei Essed of The Woes – Diamonds in the Mine
Steve Salett of The Poison Tree – First We Take Manhattan
Cassandra Jenkins – In My Secret Life
Leslie Mendelsohn – Sisters of Mercy
Adam Weiner of Low Cut Connie – Everybody Knows
Alana Amram – Suzanne
Arc Iris – Lover, Lover, Lover
Lenny Kaye – Reading from ‘Beautiful Losers’
Lenny Kaye – Don’t Go Home With Your Hard-On
Teddy Thompson – Tower of Song
Teddy Thompson – Ballad of the Absent Mare
Josh Ritter – Chelsea Hotel #2
Ian O’Neil of Deer Tick – Memories
Elvis Perkins – Is This What You Wanted?
Richard Thompson – Bird on a Wire
Richard Thompson – Story of Isaac
Joan As Police Woman, Holly Miranda, Jared Samuel of Invisible Familiars – I’m Your Man
Lee Ranaldo of Sonic Youth – Famous Blue Raincoat
Amy Helm – Hey, That’s No Way to Say Goodbye
Will Sheff of Okkervil River – Take This Waltz
Will Sheff of Okkervil River and All – So Long, Marianne

Lenny Kaye photo by Griffin Lotz.

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