Berlin: Leonard Cohen at the Waldbühne 05/09/12


So – the triumphant culmination of our holiday! Not that we didn’t love Berlin in its own right, but this is what it was really all about: the Leonard Cohen concert. If Leonard won’t come to us, then we just have to go to him – though you never know, he might appear yet. In 2008, we saw him in Dublin, then a few months later he came to Glasgow’s Armadillo. A girl can live in hope.

The venue, shown above, was the Waldbühne. This outdoor amphitheatre was originally built as part of the 1936 Olympics, and it’s enormous, seating about 22000. You go in at the top and look down 30m – fortunately we were in the first tier and quite central so got a really good view. The weather was also kind to us – it had been damp in the morning but stayed dry in the evening and it wasn’t too chilly, though the benches were rather hard and cold to sit on. Still, what’s a little discomfort when watching your musical hero?

Leonard, of course, was amazing. It’s hard to believe he’s almost 78 as he runs, or even skips, on and off the stage, and provides us with three and a half hours of entertainment. Even then, had it not been for the 11pm curfew, I’m sure he would have gone on longer – I’ve seen the set-lists for other concerts and we definitely missed a few songs.

Highlights? Well, the old songs always get a good reception. I follow the blog written by guitar technician Leif Bodnarchuk and, according to his tour diary for the Berlin concert, we became the leaders in the sing-along to So long Marianne stakes. One of the new songs, Going home, also got a rousing reception, perhaps because he name checks himself in it “I love to speak with Leonard” – well, I’m sure we’d all love to speak with Leonard, but can’t agree with his estimation of himself as “a lazy bastard living in a suit”. Leif thinks he was taken aback by the extended applause for a new song, so perhaps that was uniquely Berlin too. But the best thing of all, of course, is First we take Manhattan, then we take BERLIN! The audience participation would have taken the roof off, if there had been one. (Note to self: try to see Leonard in Manhattan and find out how it compares.)

This is a travel blog, not a music blog, so I should point out the general ease of getting to and from the concert. I thought it would take hours to climb the stairs and get back to the S-Bahn because of the throngs of people, but within 30 minutes of the concert ending we were on a train. Tired but happy.


Page three of John’s Berlin Photo Journal has all the photos he took during the concert and I’ve pinned various reviews, pictures and videos to my Leonard Cohen Pinterest board. As well as Leif’s blog linked to above, there’s a photoblog from the tour Notes from the Road by JJ Carenza III. DrHGuy aka 1heckofaguy aka Allan Showalter ALWAYS knows where to find the best videos, and I’ve discovered Arelene Dick, another legendary Cohen fan, has created Pinterest boards for every concert.