Leonard Cohen fans come together for star-studded tribute concert

Fans from around the world were in Montreal on Monday to celebrate the icon with a star-studded concert, Tower of Song: A Memorial Tribute to Leonard Cohen.

A year after his death, fans celebrate beloved artist with night of covers in his hometown

Leonard Cohen fans from around the world came together to celebrate a Montreal icon for the star-studded Tower of Song: A Memorial Tribute to Leonard Cohen concert Monday night.

"The goal was, as in many religions, to sing songs of praise for someone who is no longer with us," Adam Cohen told the crowd as the night drew to a close. 

"And I know that my father would have been very grateful, not only for the beautiful love that you have given him this evening, but for his songs being kept alive by these beautiful voices and accompaniments."

The star-studded lineup included performances by Sting, Elvis Costello, Lana Del Rey, Feist, k.d. lang, Patrick Watson and many more.

In the absence of a public funeral, many fans saw this concert as an opportunity to find some closure.

Comedian Seth Rogan also took the stage to read a poem.

"As a Canadian Jewish person, there is no greater honour than reading a Leonard Cohen poem in the middle of a hockey arena," he quipped.

​Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was in attendance at the concert, sharing memories of Cohen's impact on his own family.

"In 1988 my father attended one of Leonard's shows at Theatre St-Denis," Trudeau told the crowd. "And when he went backstage to see Leonard afterwards, he just said 'What does one have to do to get a good review in this town?'"

Trudeau thanked Cohen's son Adam for helping to bring everyone together at the event, reminiscing about their two "larger-than-life" fathers.

"I like to think of them, the two of them, together somewhere watching with a smile," said Trudeau. 

Frequent Cohen collaborator Sharon Robinson delivered a jazzy rendition of I'm your man, sporting a commemorative fedora on her head.

Elvis Costello delivered a high-energy rendition of The Future with about a dozen violinists, a fedora-wearing conductor, a pianist, standup bass, three backup vocalists, at least two saxophones.

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Montrealer Brian Lawson, a longtime Cohen fan, attended Monday night's concert as well as the new exhibit at the Musée d'art contemporain.

"It's a once in a lifetime experience," he said. "I was in line today with people from England, and they had people they knew from Germany, so there will be people here from all around the world."

Another concert-goer, Helene Beaupré, lives close to Cohen's old house in the Plateau and said she even met the artist once. 

"He's bigger than nature," she said. "We've been listening to his music since we were young and it makes no difference between French or English in his music for us."

The concert will be broadcast across Canada Tuesday, the one-year anniversary of Cohen's death, on CBC Radio 2 at 8 p.m. (8:30 p.m. NT).

With files from Kate McKenna