I’ll finish up three days of Leonard Cohen posts with this last gem that reminds us that it’s Cohen’s dazzling songs and intensity as a performer that have won him almost five decades of attention from music listeners with ears to hear his erotic prayers and sensual meditations on love, sex, ecstasy, women, death and God.
Bird on A Wire captures Cohen’s triumphant 1972 tour of Europe and Israel with his band, The Army. Capturing candid scenes of Cohen and his musicians off stage and travelling on the road, this flick is also a repository of amazing live performances captured by the acclaimed British director Tony Palmer.
For Cohenphiles, the gem here is the famous, final concert in Jerusalem when Cohen and the band all take acid before taking the stage. A well documented event in Cohen’s biographies, this performance comes to a sudden halt when Cohen quotes the Kabbalah and explains that the band can’t seem to transcend and “get off the ground.” He informs the throng that they will return to the dressing room to meditate and see if they are capable of continuing. After a shave and a cigarette, Cohen and band regroup once the entire audience sings to them, encouraging the ensenble to re-take the stage. The show ends with an intense rendition of “So Long, Marianne” that finds Cohen and the rest of the group breaking into tears before ending the show.
Here is Bird on A Wire…