U2 used its stop in Toronto on Friday (June 23) to pay tribute to Canadian music and literary legend Leonard Cohen.
Cohen died on November 7 at the age of 82 in Los Angeles. The group inserted bits of Cohen’s “Suzanne” and “Hallelujah” into its rendition of “Bad” at the Rogers Center, and U2 frontman Bono told the crowd that “tonight I’m holding onto the music of Leonard Cohen, thinking about him today. It’s been on my mind. He’s an addiction I’m not ready to give up, so I’m going to sing this one to Leonard Cohen.”
During the song, meanwhile, Bono said, “Just think. Think of Leonard Cohen. He called us friends. Really, we were just fans. That was okay by me. For Leonard Cohen…”
Bono also spoke about attending Cohen’s 79th birthday party later in the set, before “One Tree Hill;” “I asked him, ‘Leonard, what do you want to do on your 80th? Have you made any plans.’ And he said, ‘Yeah, I want to smoke a cigarette.’ ‘But you’d given up cigarettes for 27 years’…’I’m just going to have one.’ We could all be so lucky to live like that.”
U2 is in North America through July 1, then begins a European leg of the tour on July 8 in Twickenham, U.K. before returning to North America and then South America in September.
Gary Graff is an award-winning music journalist who not only covers music but has written books on Bob Seger, Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen.