Scrolling Headlines:

Nineteen turnovers sink UMass men’s basketball in loss to Fordham Saturday -

January 21, 2017

UMass men’s basketball falls to Fordham behind strong defensive effort by the Rams -

January 21, 2017

UMass hockey can’t take advantage of strong start in 6-1 loss to Boston College -

January 21, 2017

High-powered Eagles soar past UMass -

January 21, 2017

UMass women’s basketball suffers disappointing loss to St. Bonaventure at Mullins Center Thursday -

January 19, 2017

REPORT: Tom Masella out as defensive coordinator for UMass football -

January 19, 2017

Zach Lewis, bench carry UMass men’s basketball in win over St. Joe’s -

January 19, 2017

UMass women’s basketball handles Duquesne at home -

January 16, 2017

UMass men’s basketball’s late comeback falls short after blowing 15-point first-half lead -

January 15, 2017

UMass hockey outlasted at home against No. 6 UMass Lowell -

January 14, 2017

Hailey Leidel hits second buzzer beater of the season to give UMass women’s basketball win over Davidson -

January 13, 2017

UMass football hosts Maine at Fenway Park in 2017 -

January 12, 2017

UMass men’s basketball snaps losing streak and upsets Dayton Wednesday night at Mullins Center -

January 11, 2017

UMass women’s track and field takes second at Dartmouth Relays -

January 10, 2017

UMass hockey falls to No. 5 Boston University at Frozen Fenway -

January 8, 2017

UMass professor to make third appearance on ‘Jeopardy!’ -

January 8, 2017

UMass women’s basketball suffers brutal loss on road against Saint Joseph’s -

January 7, 2017

UMass men’s basketball drops thirds straight, falls to VCU 81-64 -

January 7, 2017

UMass men’s basketball drops tightly-contested conference matchup against George Mason Wednesday night -

January 4, 2017

Late-game defense preserves UMass women’s basketball’s win against rival Rhode Island -

January 4, 2017

Classic Cohen performance moves and engages

As August waned in 1970, the anti-Woodstock took place at the Isle of Wight music festival. The potential of the 60s was beginning to segue into the stagnation of the 70s, and the people were restless. What was meant to only have a 100,000 person turnout ended up being gate crashed by a crowd of over 600,000 very angry music lovers. The performers did their part to try to keep the crowd calm, but to little avail. During Jimi Hendrix’s set, the stage was somehow set aflame. Performances were frequently interrupted by political diatribes from radical patrons. All was frustration and chaos.

Finally, the time came for Leonard Cohen to perform. Unfortunately, the piano and organ he needed were unable to be produced. Not discouraged, he told the event organizers that he was going to take a nap, and that he should be woken up when they were found. When they finally were, it was 4 o’clock in the morning. Leonard Cohen was woken up, changed from his pajamas into a safari jacket and jeans, and hit the stage.

It is this performance that is captured on the fantastic “Leonard Cohen: Live at the Isle of Wight 1970” CD/DVD package. The crowd has already booed off Kris Kristofferson, and tensions are high. What is achieved in this performance is nothing less than complete connection with a crowd disenfranchised with the reality that has been presented to them. Leonard Cohen’s beautiful folk-based poetry perfectly reflects the tensions of the time.

As the show begins, Cohen relates an anecdote about his father taking him to the circus as a child, and seeing a man there tell everybody in the audience to light matches so that they might find each other. At this point, he tells the Isle of Wight to do the same. As the camera cuts to the crowd, we can see a few scattered flames. As the performance continues, though, their numbers increase. The true connection between audience and performer is achieved. This connection exists out of time, and somehow manages to carry over into the DVD recording.

For the most part, the camera stays on Cohen’s face. While there are several shots of the crowd, and scattered “Talking Heads” (which do provide some context, but disrupt the flow of the performance to an extent), the real attraction here is the raw live footage, little of which has been previously released. The sound quality is shockingly fantastic, and every word of poetry – and yes, every word he says in this is poetry-comes through clearly.

The music itself beautifully maintains the sound of his records at the time. The few changes actually serve to improve the original material sometimes, as in “Tonight Will Be Fine.” What once was a pleasant afterthought of a closer to “Songs From a Room” becomes a cathartic barnstormer of a song, with a Charlie Daniels violin solo that takes the song to emotional peaks previously unknown for Leonard Cohen.

With his recent comeback in the past year, this set is an essential purchase for new fans and seasoned veterans alike. It exists out of time more than most other recorded performances from the so-called “Woodstock Generation” and consequently and has the capacity to ensnare this singer-songwriter a new generation of followers. He’s earned it.

Mark Schiffer can be reached at mschiffe@student.umass.edu.

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