Listen To Full 1972 Leonard Cohen Aix-En-Provence Festival Concert

As I’ve previously pointed out, the 1970 Leonard Cohen Tour was weird – and the 1970 Aix-en-Provence Music Festival in general, and Leonard Cohen’s role in it specifically, were uniquely weird.

The August 1-3, 1970 Aix-en-Provence Music Festival was Woodstock with a French twist, featuring an audience of 40,000 with an average age of 20, a ban against the Festival issued by the Prefecture of the Bouches-du-Rhone, Hare Krishna chants, battles between local politicians, nudity, Maoists, the President of the International (classic) Music Festival at Aix-en-Provence describing its rock festival counterpart as “devastating hordes of hippies in search of horseplay and scandal,” and demands that the Festival be made “open to the people” (i.e., free), along with, as one might expect, sex (exhibitionist-mode), drugs (used only slightly more discreetly), and rock and roll (by Johnny Winter, Mungo Jerry, Titanic, Majority One, …). And, of course, it was the only time Leonard traveled to a show through the the countryside to arrive on stage – on a white stallion.

More about this show can be found at Cohencentric: 1970 Aix-en-Provence Festival.

Setlist: 01. Les Propriétaires de la Révolution (speech in French) 1:35 02. Bird on the Wire 3:50 03. So Long, Marianne 2:24 04. You Know Who I Am 3:11 05. Lady Midnight 2:36 06. One Of Us Cannot Be Wrong 4:14 07. The Stranger Song 5:19 08. For No Reason At All (Improvisation) :40 09. Joan of Arc 5:02 10. The Partisan 3:34 11. Intro :38 12. Sisters of Mercy 3:30 13. Diamonds in the Mine 4:14

Thanks to Jo Meul, who alerted me to this video.

Signs Of Leonard Cohen: 1973 A Cause Du Pop Movie Poster Featuring Leonard Cohen (Playing Left-handed)


Poster for A Cause Du Pop (aka Guitare Au Poing), the 1973 French film about the 1970 Aix en Provence music festival, which features Leonard Cohen’s Aug 2 performance. It has long been unavailable (although rumors of that it will imminently be made accessible have cropped up sporadically for at least the last five years), making this documentary a much sought after property by fans of Cohen, Johnny Winter, Mungo Jerry, and other artists who performed at the festival.

From Leonard Cohen Video Database

“A Cause du Pop” Movie commercially released under the name “Guitare au poing” Year 1976, France. Movie relating the 1970 festival of Aix-En-Provence (France) consisting of stock-shots from news broadcastings. Leonard sung along with many artists like Johnny Winter, Mungo Jerry, Pete Brown, Colosseum, Titanic, Rare Bird, Triangle, Dynastic crisis, Trader Horn, Chico (now Chico Magnetic Band), Wallace collection, Majority One, Rada Krishna. Production: SEDIMO, Astra Paris Films. Dialogues: Jacques Higelin and Küelan Hercé.Directed by Daniel Szuster. Note also that the French Radio Network “France-Inter” broadcasted the songs on air (unavailable, otherwise illegal).

Note: This is the only reference I find placing the film’s release in 1976. All other sources list 1972 or 1973. IMDb has the release date as June 22, 1973.

From the eBay sales description:

Original synopsis issued by the studio when the film was released and meant for theatrical display.

Note: Originally posted October 29, 2013 at, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Maoists, Music, Mud, Money, & Mayhem: Leonard Cohen’s 1970 Aix-en-Provence Show

1970-08-02 Progressive Festival D'Aix En Provence - Handbill-900

Reports, Recordings From The 1970 Aix-en-Provence Show

This post is the continuation of  Leonard Cohen At Another Other 1970 Festival – Aix-en-Provence (Part 1). While Part 1 of this post focused on the Aix-en-Provence Music Festival itself, this entry centers on Leonard Cohen’s August 2, 1970 appearance there.

As noted in an earlier post, Leonard Cohen & The Horse He Rode In On-Stage At The 1970 Aix-en-Provence Festival,

the Aix-en-Provence Music Festival in general, and Leonard Cohen’s role in it specifically, were uniquely weird.

In addition to Leonard Cohen making his onstage entrance astride a white stallion,1 for example, he also reported having been shot at:

I think I was shot at once at a big festival in Aix-en-Provence. That was when the Maoists were very powerful in France and they resented the fact that they actually had to buy a ticket. A lot of them broke down the fence and came into the concert and I did notice one of the lights on the stage go out after a kind of crack that sounded like a gunshot. I don’t know. But they’re tough critics, the Maoists.2

On the other hand, when asked in the same interview, “What about the French generally? You have said you are French. How do they respond to you?” Cohen responded

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  1. For a photo of and the story behind that equestrian event, see Leonard Cohen & The Horse He Rode In On-Stage At The 1970 Aix-en-Provence Festival []
  2. Leonard Cohen: Various Positions, Transcript of 1984 CBC interview by Robert Sward []

Video: Leonard Cohen’s Opening At 1970 Aix-en-Provence Show – Revolution, Profit, & Bird On The Wire

1970-08-02 Progressive Festival D'Aix En Provence - Handbill-900

The Leonard Cohen Aix-en-Provence Video & Posts

This video augments two posts on Leonard Cohen at the 1970 Aix-en-Provence Festival. Leonard Cohen At Another Other 1970 Festival: Aix-en-Provence (Part 1), which focuses on the Festival itself and Maoists, Music, Mud, Money, & Mayhem: Leonard Cohen’s 1970 Aix-en-Provence Show, which features photos of Cohen, including some seen in the video, and also the stories: the Maoists, who may have taken a shot at the Canadian singer-songwriter; Leonard Cohen being called a fascist because of his decision to continue to live in Greece under the Regime of the Colonels; talk of Revolution; Cohen’s critics; poetry written about the experience; and more.

Video: Leonard Cohen’s Opening Speech & Bird On The Wire at 1970 Aix-en-Provence Festival

This video features an audience-made audio recording of Leonard Cohen’s introduction and performance of Bird On A Wire on August 2, 1970 at the Aix-en-Provence Music Festival illustrated with photos of Leonard Cohen and his musicians, most of which have never before been published, pictures of scenes from the Festival, and images of other publications and events associated with the Festival.

The audio recording is only fair at best but does have the virtue of being authentic – and the only available recording of Cohen’s entire performance.

Leonard Cohen’s Opening At Aix-en-Provence 1970: Revolution & Bird On The Wire
Video by Allan Showalter


Credit Due Department:

Leonard Cohen’s introduction and his performance of “Bird On A Wire” were recorded by an audience member at the Aix-en-Provence Festival. The copy used in this video is from the private collection of Hippy1948. All of the photos of Leonard Cohen in the video, save two, are from the private collection of Dominique BOILE. I was alerted to the wonderful photo of Leonard Cohen astride a white stallion by Maarten Massa. The photo was first found by Dominique BOILE in “Leonard Cohen” by Jacques Vassal (Albin Michel Rock & Folk, published 1975, revised 1979). The photo of Leonard Cohen flanked by two members of his band is credited to Steve and was found in Rock & Folk #44. The copy used is from the private collection of Dominique BOILE.

Note: Originally posted Sept 13, 2011 at, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Leonard Cohen At Another Other 1970 Festival: Aix-en-Provence (Part 1)

Woodstock, Music Festivals, and Leonard Cohen

While Leonard Cohen did not perform at Woodstock, the August 1969 convocation at Max Yasgur’s farm had a major, albeit deferred, impact on the Canadian singer-songwriter’s career.

In August 1970, Leonard Cohen played two festivals sired by Woodstock.1 One of these festivals, The Isle Of Wight, produced a Leonard Cohen performance that is now approaching legendary status. The other, the festival at Aix-en-Provence was – well, that show was unique.

In fact, the Aix-en-Provence Music Festival in general, and Leonard Cohen’s role in it specifically, were uniquely weird.

Continue Reading →

  1. Leonard Cohen also performed at the Forest Hills Festival, which was in reality a series of concerts by different bands, typically separated from each other by a week or more, rather than a music festival in the common sense, and consequently the Leonard Cohen Forest Hills Festival appearance was, operationally, indistinguishable from other 1970 Leonard Cohen concerts. In any case, there were few elements shared between Woodstock’s Three Days of Peace & Music (and mud and drugs) and the concerts by, among others, Peter, Paul, & Mary, Fifth Dimension, and The Band held at the Forest Hills Tennis Stadium. Cohen was also scheduled to appear at the 1970 Strawberry Fields Festival held at Mosport, Ontario but did not perform. []

Rare Live Video: Leonard Cohen Performs Sisters Of Mercy At The 1970 Aix-en-Provence Festival


Peter Torbijn of the Netherlands has discovered a film, previously unknown to me and listing only 127 viewings at time of posting, with a brief segment (one minute) of Leonard Cohen singing Sisters of Mercy at the 1970 Aix-en-Provence Festival. The portion featuring Leonard Cohen begins at 2:22. More about this film and its implications will be featured in the next post about the 1970 Aix-en-Provence Festival.

The description from the site follows:

Sujet consacré au festival de musique pop d’Aix en Provence. Le commentaire sur des images de concerts alterne avec les interviews de festivaliers et du directeur de la manifestation. Le reportage se termine sur des images de Leonard COHEN interprétant “Sisters of Mercy” sur scène.

[via Google Translate] Topic dedicated to pop music festival in Aix en Provence. Commentary on concert pictures alternates with interviews of festival and director of the event. The report concludes with images of Leonard Cohen performing “Sisters of Mercy” on stage.

Update: Véro Chô has offered a summary in English of the initial portion of the video:

This festival of “progressive music” was organised by a general (!) Clément, and while it’s not said explicitly, the idea was met with some resistance it seems. Valery Giscard-d’Estaing (then not yet president, but – I looked it up – minister of Economy and Finance) came to support the general, and the festival opened with him optimistic about its success. The turnout was much lower than expected, with only 15000 people, only half of them paying, on Sunday, when they had expected 100.000 and so the festival ended after two days instead of three. Two spectators from neighbouring villages praise the youth for its peaceful manners and will to emancipate. And the topic ends with a not exactly appreciative comment about Leonard Cohen: the commentator makes a pun on “fausses notes”, which can both mean wrong notes hit by a musician or faults. He says that Leonard Cohen didn’t manage to make forget the wrong notes (i.e. lack of ticket sales). But there’s clearly a double entendre here… The festival lost 1 million French francs, which would be about 200.000 Euros nowadays but must have been a huge sum then.