On Tuesday evening, fans gathered at Yoshi’s in San Francisco to hear the soulful music of artist Marc Cohn. This was the first time I had attended a concert at this venue, and found Yoshi’s to be one of the best locations for a show that I had visited. Effortless parking, spacious seating, and excellent cuisine made Yoshi’s a memorable setting for a relaxing evening. Breaking away from the band, Cohn sang with only his guitarist Shane Fontayne for this very intimate performance.
The night began with some of Cohn’s classic numbers, like “Perfect Love,” a song about his brother and the innocence and thrill associated with young love. Other songs from the set included “29 Ways,” a rendition of Willie Dixon’s 1956 original. This is the only cover song Cohn produced prior to his most recent album, Listening Booth: 1970 which came out this past year. The concert soon transitioned to songs from this album, including Van Morrison’s “Into the Mystic” and Simon and Garfunkel’s “Only Living Boy in New York.” Although not usually a fan of cover songs, Cohn produced the album choosing only songs from 1970, a year that played a pivotal role in music, as well an in Cohn’s development as an artist.
A special shout out to a fan in the audience, Cohn treated a young lady to a rendition of his most well-known song, “Walking in Memphis” by adding lyrics with her name. I am sure it is not a moment she will soon forget. One of the highlights of attending a concert is hearing the story behind the lyrics. As Cohn admitted during the concert, while not every song is based off a true story, those that are consist of matters close to the heart, like Cohn’s father. Amongst Cohn’s most famous songs, “Silver Thunderbird” tells the story of memories Cohn recalls about his father, who was 60 years of age at the time of his birth.
One of the most memorable moments of the night came at the end when Cohn closed the show by merging the music of “Paper Walls” with the lyrics of “True Companion.” A unique take on the songs, the result was a surprisingly refreshing combination of two favorites. Naturally, when attending a concert, you never expect to hear the artist perform nearly as good as recorded on the album. But with Cohn, this is not the case at all. The same harmonious vocals are combined with a soulful execution, in a performance that captures the raw emotion of the lyrics. It is as though Cohn is reliving the same experience that inspired that song long ago.
If you have yet to hear Cohn live, he is the one artist that I see every time he visits the Bay Area, and a performance of his is not one that should be missed. Visit here for a list of upcoming tour dates. In the meantime, you can purchase Cohn’s recent album Listening Booth: 1970 online.