Canada’s eminence grise of poetry and song Leonard Cohen is in town Saturday night to play a show at Brandt Centre (curtain at 8 p.m., tickets $59.50-$145.50.) I wouldn’t describe myself as an “over the moon” type fan like some people are, but I do respect his talent both as a songwriter and a performer.
The ultimate demonstration of that came early in Cohen’s career, when he headlined at this massive festival on the Isle of Wight that drew a crowd of around 600,000 from Aug. 26-31, 1970. The festival was modelled after Woodstock, but Altamont had occured eight months earlier, and as the Isle of Wight festival progressed the crowd turned surly — lighting fires, smashing down fences and booing Kris Kristofferson off the stage in a hail of thrown bottles.
Cohen’s appearance happened on the final day of the five-day festival. Jimi Hendrix preceded him, and during his performance the stage had been set on fire. Undaunted, Cohen came out with his band around 2 a.m. and absolutely mesmerized the crowd.
I know all this because a DVD of the concert came into the office a couple of years ago. It sat around for awhile, so I finally claimed it and really enjoyed it. Here’s Cohen performing “Hey, That’s No Way To Say Good-bye” at the Isle of Wight festival:
Update: CBC is reporting that the Leonard Cohen concert has been rescheduled to April 28 as a number of band members apparently have the flu.