Leonard Cohen Tour Diary — Austin — Rehearsals and First Show

On a bright Sunday morning, the troupe of crew make their way to the rehearsal studio, via what might be called brunch. Austin is filled with boutique food joints, and the one in which we stop bears no brand,  is friendly to dog-owners, and sports outdoor seats. We seem to have narrowly beaten the Sunday rush; after our arrival, the place begins to fill with dog owners and dogs, sniffing each others butts. Yeah, that’s what I said. It is not particularly cool, nor is it entirely warm, but I find the temperature very pleasant, being of the cool-weather blood.

Onwards to the studio, in which days can be summed simply. Leonard was easy on the band, choosing to run through the set once on the first day of rehearsal, storming through the encore songs, happy that everyone seemed to be in good form. On the second day, he and the band concentrated  more deeply on a few numbers, while the third and final day was a short one, finishing around 2pm. We had originally scheduled to end rehearsals around 4pm, and so packed up all the gear without help from the local crew whose arrival was also scheduled for that time. In the meantime we managed to scoff some pizza and began loading the trucks at 4.

It was warm inside the truck, calling the pack and helping to lift gear, but it was a short-lived experience for me, as I got out of there when all the backline was in. Many of us finished around 5pm, leaving Saint Paul, Production Manager Dave, and newcomer Louis to organise the rest of the PA, wardrobe, and production cases into the trucks. Upon hitting the hotel I cleaned up and met Dan and Mickey for a couple of brews in the nearby pub, but by 9pm I was in my room, trying hard to stay awake. After watching ‘Walk Hard, the Dewey Cox Story‘ on my computer, I deemed it safe enough to go to bed without fear of waking bolt upright at 3am; which I did anyway, but still managed to get enough sleep afterwards to feel refreshed at the earlier-than-usual load-in time. I say The Winning Team’s load-in time was unusually early, but for most of the UHTC crew, it was nightmarishly so. They had to load in and start setting up at 1am. Yes siree, one hour past midnight.

While I was enjoying a light breakfast at a well-known coffee establishment, our brethren had been on their feet for many hours already. Sitting in the window (where the light is strong) I take note (literally) of a shabbily dressed man sitting on a bench outside. The bench is most ornate for civic furniture, made of cast and bent strips of metal, bookended by thin, curvy arms and legs. The new, orange sun shines directly along Sixth Street; cat’s eyes, protruding an inch above the surface of the road, cast foot-long shadows on the asphalt. The man sitting on the bench turns his head to the left, his full countenance meeting that of the sun’s. The scene serves as a reminder that no matter who we are, what we look like, how much money we make, the sun shines for all of us.

By 10am at the venue, the carpets had been laid and the risers built — neither task is my favourite in the list of tasks, and their removal from my daily to-dos is a blessing. Poor Paul — Zombie Paul. He lives in the same time zone as I do, and he arrived in Austin a few days after me. He now suffers the effects of jetlag more acutely at this moment and the man has barely slept in the past few days. What gives us all a bit of hope is the ‘hard curfew’ for tonight. In North America, going over the curfew tends to cost more; when local crew are paid to show up at 11.30 and work from there, virtually every minute they stand around waiting for us to finish has to be paid for. With approximately 20 people to pay, the costs can soon mount.

There is a relaxed atmosphere, which is welcome for any first gig. After only two weeks away, it is still easy to forget the little things, but we seem to have everything covered. at 7.55pm, five minutes before showtime, we are told the show is to be delayed to 8.15. The problem lies with people not getting to their seats quick enough and is essentially a ‘house issue.’ That fifteen minutes can be added to the back end of the show with no extra cost to UHTC. Of course, for people like ‘Wandering’ John and Saint Paul, an extra fifteen minutes tacked on to an already excessively long day seems an unnecessary cruelty.

I have been away from home for less than a week and I miss everyone terribly. The time difference has impacted the convenience of real-time talking, so my wife and I trade emails when we can. There simply isn’t a convenient time for either of us; for myself at work, it is difficult to find a run of say, twenty minutes where I am not busy or needed to help out with this and that. You might say I am feeling the Darkness.

Leonard’s  song The Darkness has been seeing a lot of reworking thus far, with the musical parts changing. A similar exercise of reinventing seems apt for this diary. In Europe, I made it my mission to include token LC content to keep it interesting for Leonard fans, but on this run, I might do that less, sticking more to crew, or non-gig things. I suppose every journey has its flavour, its mood, and there is nothing to say a writer can’t go through a few exercises, trying different things in order to sing the same song a different way.

I write this entry in Westminster Colorado after an eighteen hour drive from Austin. As I sit on a chair in my hotel room, I feel as if I am still swaying, following such time in a moving vehicle.

In the next entry, we’ll hear about drunken fighting, the second show in Austin, and cover some of the journey to Colorado. Word count permitting, we’ll also meet Mr. Jones.


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I hate blogs and bloggers.
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7 Responses to Leonard Cohen Tour Diary — Austin — Rehearsals and First Show

  1. Jon says:

    Rework it LB remake it. That’s how it goes….

    I look forward to the next installment.


  2. ucblue says:

    i am still wondering how you manage to get those (rained on) carpets dry enough to move from venue to venue.

  3. LB, journeyman, journalist, clown extraordinaire, hard-workin’ scribe, down with the tribe, up with the sun,
    a man on the run, a man out for fun….is that enough alreddy?

  4. Annie says:

    from a follower in Europe … your comments on song changes/etc are interesting – do do ’em! and haste ye back to Europe. Enjoy this Tour – it looks wonderful.

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