This past May, Neil Young brought his solo tour to Toronto's Massey Hall, an iconic venue in the city of his birth. Jonathan Demme was on hand to capture the two nights, which highlighted new songs from the album Le Noise, produced by Daniel Lanois, mixed with classics like "Ohio" and "I Believe in You." At sixty-five, Young retains a youthful vitality and musical curiosity that balances his wisdom and experience. It's no wonder he's been an inspiration to the likes of Pearl Jam and Sonic Youth. In Neil Young Journeys, Demme intersperses the Massey Hall concert footage with brief scenes from a road trip through Ontario. Driving a 1956 Ford Crown Victoria, Young visits the rural town of Omemee, where he spent a key part of his formative years, and reminisces about his former neighbors and their daughters. As he drives past bulldozers transforming the landscape, he remarks, 'It's all gone... it's still in my head.' Written by
Just old Neil and his thundering guitar or old Neil driving his old car...boring? Hell no. The man is a musical legend, belting out booming words of truthful humanity as if possessed, or gently reflecting on love and life with a tamer guitar sound but still that wild look in his eyes; then, the legend without a guitar goes back to being regular just-a-guy Neil, talking about growing up in rural Ontario. I enjoyed the ride. The guitar playing, the lyrics, the singing, and the man himself, the sheer beauty of the complete form of the entity known as Neil Young, is captured well in Journeys. Respect and admiration for the musician and for the person, and respect and admiration for Jonathan Demme, who lets Neil write his own script - as it should be - and who gives us the best seat in the house at Massey Hall for Neil's performance there. There are not only still many roses on Neil's vine, but that old gnarly thing is more magnificent than ever.
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