Video: Leonard Cohen Talks Revolution, Performs Bird On The Wire At 1970 Aix-en-Provence Festival

Leonard Cohen At 1970 Aix-en-Provence Festival

On August 2, 1970 Leonard Cohen & The Army performed at the Aix-en-Provence Music Festival, an event overshadowed by Cohen’s much lauded appearance at the Isle of Wight Festival later that month.

The Aix-en-Provence concert was the apogee of weirdness for the astoundingly weird 1970 Leonard Cohen Tour. Leonard Cohen made his onstage entrance astride a white stallion, he reported having been shot at by Maoists, he dedicated (in French) The Partisan “to the police; that they leave their armour, internal and external, and that they join us,” and finally challenged critics in the crowd:

At the end of the song, Cohen intervenes one last time in English: “Those who are trying to sabotage know that they are faced with armed men; I want to say: armed with guns and ready to use them. If you believe that freedom is being able to shout anything at anytime, then you know nothing of freedom. But if you want to attack us, then come up on the stage. We will defend ourselves.” Needless to say, no one went up and the silence was respectful during the last two songs.1

Leonard’s performance began with him addressing the audience on “the link between money and the festivals” and revolution. He then opened the set with Bird On The Wire.

While the recording from the Aix Festival is only poor to fair, it is authentic and many of the photos included have never before been published.

Leonard Cohen – Bird On A Wire At Aix-en-Provence 1970
Video from Allan Showalter


Credit Due Department: Leonard Cohen’s introduction and his performance of “Bird On The 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.

I am republishing selected posts from my former Leonard Cohen site, Cohencentric, here on (these posts can be found at Leonard Cohen). This entry was originally posted Mar 18, 2014.


  1. Leonard Cohen by Jacques Vassal, Rock & Folk n°44 September 1970 []

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