Sunday, October 28, 2012


Journeys marks the third full-length collaboration between Neil and filmmaker extraordinaire, Jonathan Demme. For the purpose of this movie, last year Neil drove down memory lane, around his hometown of Omemee, Ontario, following his brother, Bob, reminiscing about his early years growing up, and then from there he drove to the iconic Massey Hall in Toronto, where he played two of the final shows of his critically acclaimed solo tour. The bulk of the setlist comes from 2010's Le Noise, and they're top-notch. With all these performances bring a new level of loud rarely heard or experienced before in a concert film. In fact, this thing sounds much better than it looks. The acoustic songs are 'loud' too, not only volume wise but also on an emotional level; Peaceful Valley Boulevard and Love & War are so striking they give me this chilling feeling of some sort of quiet apocalypse.

The electric guitar is equally as powerful as a backing band. The first song you hear it is on Ohio and it will blow you away! The special tribute segment to the four fallen Kent State students makes this version more poignant than it has ever been. On several songs, Demme uses some funky camera angles/techniques that surprisingly don't draw too much attention to themselves. It's like they become part of the songs' narratives. You want extreme close-ups? You got it -- On Hitchhiker and Down By The River, we see Neil from the micro-camera placed just below the mic. It's so close you can actually see his teeth. It makes you pay more attention to the lyrics. At one point, his spit lands right smack on the lens, providing some funky light effect when it's mixed with the colorful backdrop behind the stage.

The two previously unreleased songs make their official debut here; Leia, which I think is just average, and the even better, very sombre You Never Called, a tribute to the late Larry Johnson, whom Neil talks a great deal about in his book. There's not much old stuff. After The Gold Rush is done on the pump organ, and it sounds better than I'd expect; when those bass notes come in at the end of each verse, get ready for huge goosebumps. I Believe In You, another early classic, is performed on the piano. Personally, I would've loved to see Cortez The Killer included in here; it can only be heard faintly in the background during the hometown scenes. The closing Walk With Me, is sorta Arc-lite, drenched in hair-raising feedback at the finale. Journeys is a solid film that will probably only warrant repeated viewings for the hardcore fans. I wouldn't consider this entry-level Neil Young.