Director: Jonathan Demme
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Neil Young returns to Omemee (the “town in North Ontario” from Helpless) to play two shows to end his solo tour of 2011 in support of Le Noise. Jonathan Demme captures it because they’ve already made two films together and Young will return to work with people if he gets something from it and if they are giving him something in return.
Demme and Young are a great duo – when it comes to making Neil Young concert films. They don’t repeat themselves and just as Young, somehow, finds a way to make three chords on an acoustic guitar sound different every time, Demme is still finding new ways to shoot a concert film, looking for different angles, searching for new truths.
In and around the set we get Young sharing bittersweet memories of his upbringing, chatting with brother Bob, walking around the old hometown.
As always Neil Young gives you just enough. You take what you want from it – he’s not a prickly pear and he’s not completely open and honest and fully giving; he is somewhere between the two and is able to offer both options. He’s also mellowed in recent years, in terms of providing information about himself – recognising that he can do that not only through his songs but also in writing a memoir and in the films he and Demme have been making; which are as much about Demme’s journey/journeys as they are Young’s. In short, he is realising he has control.
The music is constantly rewarding here – old favourites are served up alongside the strong material from Le Noise. There’s a killer version of Peaceful Valley Blvd, strong reworkings of Ohio, After The Gold Rush and I Believe In You (among others) and – as always seems to be the way with Young in concert – he can make a brand new song (something unrecorded, from the vault or being road-tested for the very first time) seem like a highlight of the night. In this case Leia is the unrecorded/unreleased gem from this filmed set.
There’s the passion, energy and commitment – Young working hard to put across his vision, to allow his muse to rest for just a spell. He is stubborn, relentless, challenging – but you always believe him. Well, I do.
He’s released so many concert films – all of them worth seeing if you’re a fan. This one: one of his very best.