You settle down in your seat expecting a documentary, but what you get in the end is what feels very much like a well made laid back music video. As a documentary there is nothing new or inventive, and as a music video nothing flashy, just the pure down home unpretentiousness of Neil Young at work, on tour, on his own personal journey.
In between the 2 day solo concert footage at Toronto’s Massey Hall, director Jonathon Demme takes us on a road trip to the small Ontario town of Omemee where Neil Young spent many of his formative years. He points out a school named after his father, renowned author, Scott Young, remembers places where he as a child committed heinous acts, such as killing a turtle by sticking a firecracker up its arse and lighting it, insulting a neighbour lady for nickels given to him by a kid named "Goof" and the well mown lawn where his childhood home once stood, before being destroyed in a fire.
One can only imagine this footage was included because the rest of the movie is filmed in the dark and they needed some daylight to keep the audience alert and a break between heavy songs such as Ohio and Down by the River.
The extreme closeups of the scruffy old man Neil has become, and his contorted face as he sings songs we all grew up listening to is a little off putting, but if you close your eyes you are in for a real treat aurally.
There is a lot of nostalgia here and Demme has captured that very well. Some of the theatres where this film will be shown, will be outfitted with high end sound equipment by Sony in order to get the benefit of the 96 kHz (double the standard) You really feel the music. You can get lost in it and Neil’s voice has not lost it’s appeal nor has the acoustic guitar riffs he strums and picks.
The sound recording and editing was excellent and is perhaps what saves this cross between a documentary and the long music video mentioned above and of course there was that “take out your handkerchief moment” as he crooned his protest song Ohio (1970) written and composed by Young in reaction to the Kent State shootings of May 1970. The tearful moments come as they flashed photos of the Ohio Four across the screen. These were the 2 young men and 2 young women killed at Kent State by the National Guard.
Other songs include Leia, I Believe in You, After the Goldrush, and a few others to make a total of 8.