Neil Young: Heart of Gold (PG)
Time Out says
Tue Oct 3 2006There are other Neil Young concert films, of course, most notably 1979’s rudimentary but valuable ‘Rust Never Sleeps’ and Jim Jarmusch’s 1997 grungefest ‘Year of the Horse’, but this one is complementary, capturing the long-running rocker at a very particular moment. Diagnosed with a potentially life-threatening brain aneurysm last spring, he recorded the ‘Prairie Moon’ album in a matter of days in Nashville just before surgery – and, after recovery, asked Jonathan Demme to preserve a subsequent live showcase in the C&W music capital. So, the Young we see here is not the raw feedback merchant of the Crazy Horse tours, but a composed veteran reflecting on mortality and core values in a mellow, lightly countrified vein as his band of top musos shuffle along in cruise control.
All of which may sound truly soporific to the unconverted, but even those who haven’t followed Young’s every recent move could well find his performance here surprisingly captivating. Delivered in front of painted backdrops enshrining the prairie, log cabin and church, the new-ish material – a direct testament to the important things in life – proves straightforward, heartfelt and rather touching, while the show’s back catalogue selections affirm Young the songwriter’s impressive legacy. Demme’s low-key, attuned direction keeps the attention on the stage, where the star’s lined features betray almost four decades in the business, yet his glowing enthusiasm attests to the rejuvenating quality of gigs like this. An assured filmed record then, and Young’s affirmation of the centrality of music in his own personal and creative longevity proves authentically infectious, moving even. The old boy’s not ready to burn out or fade away just yet.
Author: Trevor Johnston