The ‘Grandaddy of Grunge’, Neil Young, has been on quite a roll over the last few years, musically and artistically, releasing several critically acclaimed albums, not to mention finally releasing the long, long-awaited “Neil Young Archives: Volume 1” to the masses, proving again and again that ‘rust never sleeps.’ After all, Young is pretty old for a rock and roll star. However, his love for making music and shredding guitars on stage never ceases to wane, as is evident in his latest concert documentary film, “Journeys.”Directed by veteran filmmaker Jonathan Demme, the hour and a half long documentary takes Young and crew through a semi-nostalgic trip through Young’s old stomping grounds of Omemee, Ontario, on his way to play Toronto’s historic Massey Hall. Young, equipped with only a small arsenal of old guitars, organs, pianos and harmonicas, sans any backing band, tackles several classic tunes from Young’s timeless and priceless songbook, such as “Hey, Hey, My, My” and “After The Gold Rush,” including several tracks from his 2012 album, “Le Noise,” as well as a couple of previously unreleased songs including the playful “Leia’ and “You Never Call.”
As he cruises around some of the back country parts of his childhood home with brother Bob, Young sheds some humorous light on growing up, as well as taking a stroll down memory lane through the ghosts of buildings and structures no longer standing in Omemee. Much of these elements naturally make their way into Young’s music, hitting every sense from every direction.
The most visually striking parts of Demme’s documentary are the up close and personal shots of Young’s spitting mouth, as he vocally blasts several songs in a very uncomfortable, yet intriguing manner. Young and Demme also visually pay tribute to the ‘Kent State Four’ in the classic, “Ohio,” the four young students who were killed during protests at Kent State University in 1970, through a blend of Young’s explosive solo performance coupled with archive footage and photos of the Kent State victims.
What is still amazing about Young and his masterful performances of this new and classic material, he manages to fill the stage and atmosphere with the sound of a full band, though he is but one on stage, taking on lead and rhythm guitar distortions. And, though Young certainly shows his visual age in this film, his songs and message are as youthful and powerful as anything he recorded 40 years ago.
“Journeys” opens to select theaters across the country on July 20, 2012, and is distributed by Sony Pictures Classics.