In 2008, a tiny theatre in New Brunswick Canada (seating just 709 people) the late, great poet and musician Leonard Cohen made a surprise return to the stage. 15 years after he last performed, Cohen graced the spotlight to deliver a sensational performance of ‘Hallelujah’.
Usually, the theatre would be reserved for local productions fo West End favourites, or perhaps the odd children’s entertainer. However, in 2008, it welcomed an esteemed guest indeed as 73-year-old Leonard Cohen made his live return on the boards of The Fredericton Playhouse. It would be a night all in attendance would never forget.
During the nineties and early noughties, Leonard Cohen had retreated completely from the public eye. He lived on a Buddhist monastery on Mount Baldy near Los Angeles and kept his company very private let alone his songs.
In fact, when he returned to the stage in 2008, it was the last thing on his mind to once again go back out into the limelight, “I never thought I’d tour again,” he told Rolling Stone in 2012. “Although I did have dreams. Sometimes my dreams would entail me being up on stage and not remembering the words or the chords. It had a nightmarish quality, which did not invite me to pursue the enterprise.”
After suffering financial difficulties in the mid-2000s the singer was forced to reconsider his touring schedule and a very short Canadian theatre tour was booked. With the singer having not taken to the stage since way back in 1993, the tension was very high and the chance of failure unquestionably present.
The tour kicked off in tiny remote cities away from the media spotlight, intended to keep Cohen’s early sparring sessions with live performance under wraps. But that didn’t last long, nor was it needed.
Cohen arrived back on stage as if no time had passed, performing with the same verve and incandescent star power that had endeared him to so many hearts during his first period of touring. It wouldn’t take long before reviews and audience adulation would see Cohen back in the big time and taking headline slots wherever he went.
The return of Leonard Cohen started on that very first night at The Fredericton, New Brunswick. It was the moment Leonard Cohen the legend was resurrected.
Listen below to Cohen’s beautiful performance of ‘Hallelujah’ from that very night.