a spectacular celebration
of the spirit of enigmatic
Canadian icon,
Leonard Cohen


leonard cohen koans

Leonard Cohen Koans is the spectacular musical celebration of the spirit of enigmatic Canadian icon, Leonard Cohen, and his astonishing 60+ year career spanning literature, art and music. Splicing songs with his poetry and prose, ali & the thieves weave a new pathway into your experience of this glorious Poet of the Holy Sinners.

Part-concert and part-homage, Leonard Cohen Koans is performed by versatile Sydney vocalist ali hughes and sought after musical director Daryl Wallis, with masterful jazz/blues craftsmen 'the thieves'.

This is Cohen like you've never heard - stripped back and refocused, inspired interpretations and epic new arrangements of 14 favourites, including his ode to Janis Joplin “Chelsea Hotel #2”, “Sisters of Mercy”, “Anthem” and “If it be your will”, the seductive “Dance me to the end of love”, and his mythic masterpiece “Suzanne”.

In its seventh year of presentation, this 90min narrative concert has hooked audiences from Sydney to New York and Dublin. Now more than ever, with the passing of the legendary and enigmatic Leonard Cohen still so fresh in our hearts, Leonard Cohen Koans re-connects audiences with the live experience of his extraordinary music.

Inspiring, passionate, intimate and sincere, Leonard Cohen Koans gives you another chance to savour the creative spirit with which he so exquisitely courted the world.


more than embodies
the energy that one expects from an evening of Cohen.”

Amber gallery  |


about us

The 15 year collaboration between vocalist ali babs and composer Daryl Wallis is made evident by a unique blurring of their energies in live performance.
Neither leads nor follows. Instead, it is the organic ebb and flow of two people whose musical appreciation for each other and the work has become ritual.

Their exciting approach to Leonard Cohen's oeuvre is inspired by the deep influence of spirituality in his work. In particular, this show explores his poetry, prose and song through the lens of a foundational meditation technique of Leonard Cohen's Rinzai Zen Buddhist practice - the Zen Koan, which may be defined most simply as a succinct paradoxical statement or question used as a meditation discipline for novices. Leonard Cohen Koans is part-concert, part-homage, and weaves a new pathway into your experience of this glorious Poet of the Holy Sinners.

ali & the thieves is the music collective which has grown, and continues to grow, from the always evolving collaboration of babs and Wallis. as ali & the thieves they have collaborated on recorded and live performance of music for theatre, concert, film, cabaret, private and public events.

They are currently working together with Merrigong Theatre on the presentation of a new Australian work being premiered in July 2018 at the Illawarra Performing Arts Centre.