CD/DVD Review – Leonard Cohen “Live At The Isle Of Wight”
Good new for those awaiting the release of more old Leonard Cohen from the days when he was still depressed and very much on the edge. In 2009, a CD/DVD package was released on Columbia of a concert that took place on The Isle Of Wight for the English version of Woodstock in 1970.
Both the CD & DVD are complete with many charming Leonard songs from his storied & timeless past like: “So Long Marianne” right after “Bird On A Wire.” But this is not just another greatest hits package as it includes fabulous impromptu comments by Leonard in between cuts that are somewhat morose and hilarious at the same time. That is one thing I have always liked about old Leonard Cohen is his duality in songs & poetry.
Backed by his live band at the time called: “The Army” which includes an unrecognizable Charlie Daniels on Bass & Producer Bob Johnston on keyboards. The rest of the musicians are more obscure and unknown to me but do a fine job backing the free wheeling Leonard who is reciting poetry in between songs and then going right into them.
The DVD features a very edgy looking Leonard at 4:00am in the morning performing his songs like it could be his last chance to do so! The two female background singers are fabulous and stay very subdued taking a tip from Leonard’s deep persona. They look & sound great here. Ironically, most of the musicians are seated typical of that era back then. It is very Woodstockish though slightly more disheveled. The DVD/Film is mesmerizing although the camera work is limited.
More songs here are: “You Know Who I Am”, “Lady Midnight”, “The Stranger Song”, “Tonight Will Be Fine”, “Diamonds In The Mine”, “Suzanne”, “Sing Another Song Boys”, “Famous Blue Raincoat” ending with: “Seems So Long Ago, Nancy.” A great selection for old & new Leonard fans. However, I feel that this is a priceless document to those who remember Leonard as the wild man singer/poet that he was in those days. Of course now days is a whole other question?
There are a few short interviews from fellow musicians who were there on the DVD. Guys like Kris Kristofferson and the timeless Judy Collins who tells a short story about Leonard’s first time on stage. Charming stuff here.
In a way, this is a time capsule that captures Leonard Cohen at his best back in those days with his friends playing along to his wonderful compositions. I really miss the old Leonard but I do realize he couldn’t stay this young forever. (An understatement). We now forgive him for growing old by heaping tons of awards & accolades upon him.
So, thank you Mr. L. Cohen for the years of intelligent song craft and performances that we all surely agree are timeless! I love this package and sometimes wish that time would have just stopped in the early 70’s when life & art were oh so much more civilized in a profound way. You shoulda been there. With this set…you can be.