Concert films have a tendency to be hit or miss affairs; too often they rely on gimmicks such as gratuitous crowd shots, seizure causing jump shots, and other flash in the pan camera techniques that distract from the performance at hand. The difference between "Heart of Gold" and many other concert dvds is the fact that it was directed by a truly accomplished director with an eye for detail and using various different techniques to capture subtleties and nuances in each performance; for a performer as expressive as Young is when delivering his songs, Jonathan Demme is the perfect match for capturing the visual aspects of the concert. There are no cheesy MTV style jump cuts or split screen, just simple, beautiful camera work that doesn't distract from the nearly 20 beautiful performances featured.
The concert itself is just magnificent; I'll admit that I'm not the biggest fan of "Prairie Wind," but the record really does come alive in this particular setting; "It's a Dream" is the highlight of the first set, along with "Falling Off the Face of the Earth" and "No Wonder." It's the second set, however, that really makes this a truly special performance, with extremely touching renditions of "Harvest Moon," (maybe the best version ever), "Heart of Gold," and "The Needle and the Damage Done," among others. The closing performance of "One of These Days" is a joy to watch and listen to, a perfect summation of a job well done.
The musicians assembled hold their own against the very best outfits Neil has ever worked with (he's arguably never had a bad backing band), including longtime "Harvest" stalwart Ben Keith, keyboard legend Spooner Oldham, and of course Emmylou Harris; an accomplished vocalist, songwriter and musician in her own right, Harris gets almost as much facetime as Neil and elevates each performance where she is featured prominently, particularly on the jaunty "Old King."
"Heart of Gold" is a touching, entertaining and wholly successful concert film combining the talents of two truly special artists at the top of their game.