Review: Neil Young Trunk Show

2010-04-23T00:10:00Z Review: Neil Young Trunk ShowBy L. KENT WOLGAMOTT / Lincoln Journal Star JournalStar.com

 

There's no pretense to "Neil Young Trunk Show: Scenes from a Concert." It is what the title says: a film of Young and his band at work with none of the standard concert film artifice of talking heads, fan reaction, stage setup, etc.

It's directed by Jonathan Demme, who made 2006's "Neil Young: Heart of Gold." But it's a far different film from its predecessor. That movie captured an acoustic show at Nashville's legendary Ryman Auditorium.

"Trunk Show" was shot during a two-night stand at the Tower Theater near Philadelphia in 2007 on Young's tour supporting his "Chrome Dreams II" album. The music is both acoustic and electric, the band made up of the same players as the "Heart of Gold" show, including guitarist Ben Keith.

For longtime fans of Young's rock side, that's a bit of a disappointment. His collaborations with Crazy Horse are always earth shattering. But the move back and forth between acoustic and electric is Young in a nutshell, and he plays an array of instruments - acoustic guitar, piano and banjo - while singing over them in his reedy, plaintive voice.

It's also great fun to watch Young assaulting "Old Black," his Gibson Les Paul, strangling the electric guitar to get every squall and cry he can while the band tries to match his intensity and follow his twists and turns.

Thankfully, "Trunk Show" isn't a "best-of" affair; there's nothing more boring than a greatest hits concert movie. Instead, most of the songs are either from "Chrome Dreams II" or are deep catalog numbers.

There are familiar songs; "Cinnamon Girl," "Old Man" and especially the climactic "Like a Hurricane" really connect. But Young's no human jukebox, and the film reflects his approach at every show I've seen.

Demme used nine HD cameras and some shaky Super 8mm footage to capture Young and the band on stage and in few clips in the dressing room. Editor Glenn Allen cuts those shots together to replicate the intense, improvisational nature of Young's shows as well as any film possibly could.

Word is that "Neil Young Trunk Show" is the second of a trilogy of Young concert films planned by Demme. Here's hoping No. 3 finds Young riding with the Horse.

Until then, the new film is more than enough to satisfy Young fans, yet another documentation of one of rock's legends and another excellent concert film from the director who makes them better than anyone. I only wish it had been longer; 82 minutes just isn't enough Neil.

Reach L. Kent Wolgamott  at 402-473-7244 or kwolgamott@journalstar.com, or follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/KentWolgamott.

 

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