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Just one year after his death, thousands of fans flooded the Bell Centre in Montreal to celebrate the life achievements of Canadian singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen at a memorial tribute Monday night.
The Tower of Song: A Memorial Tribute to Leonard Cohen was named after a song on Cohen’s 1988 album I’m Your Man. Cohen’s son Adam, said the goal of the event was to “sing songs of praise for someone who is no longer with us.”
The star-studded performance line up included Elvis Costello, BORNS, Lana Del Rey, Patrick Watson, Feist, The Lumineers and Sting, just to name a few.
The artists performed against a projected background portrait of Leonard looking out of a tower window.
Among the many amazingly talented artists there were a few performances that really stood out, earning a standing ovation from the massive crowd.
Lana Del Rey took to the stage alongside Adam Cohen to cover “Chelsea Hotel No. 2.”
Del Rey is no stranger to Cohen’s work, as she previously recorded her own version of his 1974 hit for Vevo in 2013.
Del Rey says she felt honoured to be invited to celebrate Cohen’s life. In a tear jerking Instagram post following the news of Cohen’s passing on November 7 last year, she described her connection with him through his music and how he has influenced her life.
I’d be lying if I said it didn’t kind of break my heart that I never got to tell you how much you changed me. Not that it would’ve mattered to ya, it’s just that other than Bob and Joan you were the only person I ever really felt spoke my language. I love you as a real fan and I always looked for a little bit of you in all of my future friends. God bless.
Adam Cohen went on to perform “So Long Marianne,” a 1967 song about his father’s former girlfriend Marianne Ihlen, who Cohen had sent a letter to while she was on her deathbed in July of 2016, just before his own passing in November of that same year.
As the night went on the performances continued with Ron Sexsmith playing “Suzanne,” Feist singing “Hey That’s No Way To Say Goodbye,” and Patick Watson performing “Who By Fire.”
Actor and Comedian Seth Rogen recited the poem “Field Commander Cohen” from Cohen’s 2001 live album of the same name. Rogen joked that “as a Jewish Canadian there is no higher honour than reading a Leonard Cohen poem in the middle of a hockey arena.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and wife Sophie Grégoire also joined in on the festivities, taking to the stage to share the special connection they had with Cohen to fans.
Leonard Cohen was not only an ambassador of Montreal, but of Canada. Last night, we paid tribute to his legacy. pic.twitter.com/VK6d2mm7ek
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) November 7, 2017
They revealed that Grégoire walked down the aisle on her wedding day to a gospel version of Cohen’s “Hallelujah.”
“Leonard may not sing in French but he sang about what unites us as Quebecers,” Gregoire said as she addressed the crowd in French.
Towards the closing of the night, a video featuring Céline Dion, Peter Gabriel, Willie Nelson, and Chris Martin singing “Tower Of Song” was played.
— Silvet Ali (@silvet) November 7, 2017
Check out an overview of some of the amazing performances below.