This past weekend, on a chilly Autumn night in Saratoga, Marc Cohn captivated the sold-out audience with his smoothing voice and impassioned lyrics. The location, the Montalvo Arts Center, made the perfect backdrop for this event. The set-list ranged from Cohn’s more well-known songs, to newer tracks from his Listening Booth: 1970 album. Taking an artistic approach, Cohn performed some songs like the original, and others with a creative harmonic rendition, pouring his soul into every word he sung.
Naturally, when attending a concert, you never expect to hear the artist perform nearly as good as recorded on the album. But with Cohn, this is not the case at all. The same melodious vocals are combined with a soulful execution, in a performance that captures the raw emotion of the lyrics. It is as though Cohn is reliving the same experience that inspired that song long ago.
I’ve seen Marc in concert before, and he is without a doubt, the best I have seen live. It is rare to find a musician that truly treats their music as their art, bringing meaning to “getting lost in the music.” Cohn’s lyrics paint an interesting picture, making you wonder the story behind each song. Throughout the concert, Cohn revealed the unique experiences that impacted his musical career, as well as shaped the person he has become. That sort of comforting vulnerability is what has set Cohn apart as an artist over the years.
Listening Booth: 1970 is the newest release from Cohn–a brilliant compilation of songs from a vital year in music. The songs chosen are just from one year–1970, that beautifully demonstrate the influence of music during that time. I have never been a fan of “cover albums,” and as Cohn revealed, neither is he. But just as this was an important year in music, it was just as an important of a year in Cohn’s life. This album pays tribute to the artists that impacted Cohn, as he reinterprets songs like “Wild World” and “The Only Living Boy in New York,” making each song his own.
Taking a few moments between songs, Cohn engaged the audience with his wit and humor. The concert felt like a comedy show at points, as Cohn entertained the crowd, and took suggestions for his next number. With his exceptional performance that evening, it is no surprise the audience wanted more, with Cohn returning for two encores.
For any of you that may not recognize the name, you will know “Walking in Memphis”–the song that paved the way for his career. Since then, Cohn has released remarkable album after album, inspiring fans and aspiring musicians everywhere. Like I said before, I’ve been to a Marc Cohn concert prior to this one, and each time I’ve been amongst the youngest in the audience. Even with that said, his music speaks to me at a level of such depth and honesty, where I feel my own personal connection to the lyrics. This concert beautifully showcased a singer/songwriter that I have grown to admire, and rightfully so.
To experience Listening Booth: 1970 and see upcoming tour dates, visit marccohn.net.
Visit montalvoarts.org to view the 2010-2011 line-up of performances.