sexta-feira, 2 de setembro de 2016

LIVE AT THE ISLE OF WIGHT, 1970


Forty-six summers ago on August 31, 1970, 35-year-old Leonard Cohen was awakened at 2 a.m. from a nap in his trailer and brought onstage to perform with his band at the third annual Isle Of Wight music festival. The audience of 600,000 was in a fiery and frenzied mood, after turning the festival into a political arena, trampling the fences, setting fire to structures and equipment – and stoked by the most incendiary performance of Jimi Hendrix’s career. As Cohen followed Hendrix’s set, onlookers (and fellow festival headliners) Joan Baez, Kris Kristofferson, Judy Collins and others stood side stage in awe as the Canadian folksinger songwriter-poet-novelist quietly tamed the crowd. Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker Murray Lerner, whose footage of the 1970 festival did not begin to see release until 1995, was able to capture Cohen’s performance. This package is available in two formats. The DVD/CD contains the new documentary by Lerner and the full performance on CD. All tracks are previously unreleased (apart from bits of “Suzanne” which were featured in the documentary Message to Love, also by Lerner) (in Amazon)


Memories, Dreams and Reflections

I was just two months shy of my seventeenth birthday at 4 am on August 31 1970 and I knew all the words, I was maybe 50 to 75 yards from the stage just outside the overrun VIP and Press enclosure and Leonard Cohen was about to appear on stage at the Isle of Wight Festival. My older brother Chris was to blame for me being there, for he introduced me to Leonard Cohen, and I had become smitten, I had caught the Leonard Cohen bug big time, which I would be unable to shake off for the rest of my life. I knew all the songs and all about Marianne, Suzanne and Nancy. And I knew "Tonight Will Be Fine", for I had waited 5 days and nights with hardly any sleep, after hitch hiking 250 miles with a friend Johnny Vernon from Manchester in the north of England to be there. I had just slept through most of Jimi Hendrix's set, though disappointed to have missed him, that was unimportant as I had come to see Leonard Cohen, and was slowing moving forward to get as close as possible to the stage. Looking back now it seems like a dream and I have woken up and am watching the DVD of my Dream, compulsively, 3 consecutive times so far and also listened to the whole CD. It's as if time had become dislocated and the warp and woof of reality expanded to include a 40 year Present Moment.


As I watch I am really identifying very intensely with almost spiritual longing with that young man at the beginning of the DVD who was about my age, it was like coming to Bethlehem to see baby Jesus he says, except Leonard Cohen is no 'baby Jesus', and it also felt as much like Babylon as Bethlehem, with Fires, Chaos and Free Love all on display. But it was still like a holy pilgrimage for me.
I wanted so much to connect the 2 time-streams, as I watched Leonard on the DVD, the present with the past, to be there again, with my 17 year old self who was waving matches in the night, through the cold mists of time, trying to signal his presence to his future self. The strangeness of being a mere part, a cell in the huge Beast of Babylon that was the crowd, a Body of 600,000 people. «You Know Who I Am, You've Stared at the Sun», sang the poet and prophet in the middle of the night and we stared at the stage where there was a human star burning with such bright intensity, as we stood in awe in the vast dark, small points of light, our matches in our hands.



The 1970 Leonard Cohen never looked so prickly and real, so unshaven, so raw and human yet so sensitive and spiritual, so powerful and yet so frail. So spaced out yet so centred in the moment. Speaking and singing from the heart with words and songs that communicate with the souls of men. He looked like some suffering Christ like figure that came to tell the world the truth but had just been woken up and did not really want to bother. This was the biggest rock festival in the history of the world and there has not been anything like it since. I was there to see Leonard Cohen in 1970 at the Isle of Wight and feel after viewing the DVD in 2009 that events like these go beyond their stated purpose and moment, reverberate through time and become cracks in the fabric of the world and as Leonard would say, `that's how the light get's in', we enter a Communion with the Higher Powers. «We pray for the angels and then the angels pray for us» to misquote LC. The negative forces on Devastation Hill become insignificant, they had played their part to pump up the intensity and now are just another part of the story, another part of the myth... of how the artist calms the savage beast and opens a spiritual channel for transcendent love to flow and manifest in the world.


Leonard Cohen's words and songs are mined from the very deepest heart and soul. They are like the golden thread from some magical loom, which weave their way through time and remain with us from moment to moment, as we grow older they make our lives richer, more meaningful and bearable. I am so pleased to have had this chance to be transported back 40 years in time and relive my younger days again. It`s been an experience full of unique and extraordinary memories and emotions. And thanks to Leonard Cohen for being a beacon of light in the darkness of the world, truly he transcends past and present, to bring us the timeless truth of the heart. If you want to know what it was like to be at one of the defining moments in musical history... buy this DVD/CD. (Peter Solomon in Amazon)


"Can I ask each one of you to light a match,
so I can see where you are..."

Os fans de LC sabiam há muito da existência destas gravações e destas filmagens, e os mais velhos, como eu, interrogavam-se até se alguma vez haveriam de as ver em vida. Um pouco como estava a acontecer com os “ficheiros secretos” do Neil Young, recentemente também divulgados… A chegada desta obra ao mercado deveria ter sido acompanhada de foguetes, toques de sino, fanfarras, eu sei lá… Mas não, pelo menos por cá. O mercado e os jornalistas que o alimentam andam demasiado entretidos com Michael Jackson e com os milhões que gravitam à volta da sua imagem… Eu não me vou alongar sobre o que se passou nessa mítica noite de 31 de Agosto de 1970, que o livro que acompanha a obra documenta bem. Dir-vos-ei, apenas, que chegaram à Ilha de Wight para os 5 dias de concertos 600.000 pessoas, quando as melhores expectativas dos organizadores não excediam as 200.000. As condições logísticas para acolher tanta gente eram, naturalmente, precárias, e isso lançou uma onda de confusão que se iria alastrar durante todo o evento.


Antes de LC ter subido ao palco já Kris Kristofferson tinha sido obrigado a abandoná-lo por força das garrafas de cerveja que lhe caiam em cima, aparentemente por o som estar a sair em más condições. E durante a actuação de Jimi Hendrix uma parte do palco foi incendiada… A anarquia tinha-se instalado naquele último dia do festival e tudo era possível. No meio de toda essa confusão não se sabia muito bem os horários de cada “performance”, e consta que LC foi acordado às 2 da manhã quando dormia na sua “roulote”. Kristofferson diz que até o chegou a ver em pijama, mas foi já com o seu casaco de safari que Cohen se apresentou em palco, acompanhado por um conjunto de músicos que se auto-nomearam “The Army”, dos quais faziam parte nomes conhecidos como Bob Johson e Charlie Daniels. E o inevitável coro de meninas também já por lá andava, nessa altura…


Cohen apresentou-se despenteado e com a barba de três dias com que o haveríamos de ver, no ano seguinte, na capa de “Songs of Love and Hate”. Adivinha-se o pior mas Cohen, com uma calma impressionante, conseguiu controlar a multidão e quase hipnotizá-la… Começou por contar uma história antiga dos tempos em que ia ao circo com o seu velho pai e, a propósito, pediu a cada um dos presentes que acendesse um fósforo, de modo a que ele os pudesse ver e todos também se pudessem ver melhor, uns aos outros… E arrancou, muito lentamente, com o “Bird on the Wire”Mas o que faz deste disco uma obra indispensável não é tanto o CD, embora este reúna verdadeiras preciosidades pouco ouvidas “ao vivo” no futuro, já que se baseia nos primeiros e mais intimistas dos seus álbuns. Aqui não há lugar a “First We Take Manhatan”, “I’m Your Man” ou “Tower of Song”’s, que tanto sucesso público fizeram no futuro e de que eu tão pouco gosto …


Em contrapartida, são reveladas pela primeira vez três músicas que hão-de fazer parte de “Songs of Love and Hate” (“Famous Blue Raincoat”, “Diamonds in the Mine” e “Sing Another Song, Boys”), com a particularidade desta última ser, precisamente, a versão “ao vivo” que há-de aparecer nesse terceiro disco. E a versão de “Tonigh Will be Fine” é a que haveremos de encontrar em “Live Songs”, álbum de 1973. Em boa verdade, o que mais me impressiona são as imagens de Cohen: a pureza do seu olhar perdido no vazio, a forma como saboreia e coloca cada palavra das suas canções e dos poemas que declama, o sorriso triste e efémero que lhe perpassa pelo rosto… Não me envergonho de vos dizer que, aqui e além, me vieram lágrimas aos olhos. Não de nostalgia por esses tempos passados… Mas de pura emoção, como um dia me lembro de ter chorado durante uma missa no interior de uma capelinha de St. Wolfgand, nos lagos austríacos, eu que sou profundamente ateu... «God bless Leonard Cohen and his music», diz-nos Judy Collins numa entrevista do filme de Lerner. Não podia ter escolhido melhores palavras. (Luís Mira)



The Isle of Wight may be a haven for PE teachers and community police officers; a safe, branded sanctuary in which the world's distinctly average can "party on down" while listening to Olly Murs. But before little Olly was born, the Isle of Wight Festival used to be one of the best in the world. Jimi Hendrix, Dylan, everyone; they've all played there. The 1970 event say almost 700,000 (mostly ticketless) punters descend on the meagre island which - compared to the fact Glastonbury only holds 135,000 and, at the time the island's own population only reached the 100k mark - gives an idea of the chaos that ensued. By the final day of the fest, following the organisers' attempt to build a fence to keep any newcomers out, multiple riots had erupted around the site. Performers had been treated to a hostile reception for the entire festival: fire broke loose following Jimi Hendrix’s set at midnight, while both Joni Mitchell and Kris Kristofferson had been booed offstage prior to Cohen taking to the stage at around 4am. Having only just been awoken from a slumber in his trailer, Cohen took to the stage and - still starry-eyed - requested the audience to strike matches so he could see them and they could see each other. «I know that you know why you’re lighting them,» he added with an almost philosophical inclination, before kicking into “Bird On The Wire”. After that, the audience were putty to Cohen’s charms, and the incident has been cited to have calmed any animosity for the rest of the duration. (Luke Morgan Britton)

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8 comentários:

Anonymous disse...

Mais um excelente post, com dois textos fascinantes. Cohen merece-os.

Private Beach disse...

I was there - a magical evening. Hendrix's last performance in England, and what I believe was Cohen's first. After all these years, I still remembered his introduction to "Nancy". Good to hear it again - and good that in his mid-70s he is still making great music today.

Ron. disse...

Rato
All my thanks for so many wonderful uploads the last time..!!!!
Ron.

Anonymous disse...

Excelente post con este memorable concierto en la Isla de Wight en la mejor época de este gran cantautor canadiense.
Podrías postear algo de Phil Ochs?
Muchas gracias Rato,
Juan

Fur disse...

Thanks again

jimael disse...

Thanks Rato, especially my mother would like this one, she's a GREAT fan!

Have a nice day!

Any middle-aged German Witch in Amerika disse...

Unbelievably great!! Thank you so much for introducing (and re-uploading!!) this wonderful recording. I am going to order the DVD now, as I am truly in awe!

DonHo57 disse...

Just simply incredible. Thanks.

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