Jewel At The Saban Theatre
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By Crystal Larsen
Beverly Hills, Calif.
There was a point early on in Jewel's life when she began to think that a career in music wasn't in the realm of possibility. But nearly two decades after her debut, Jewel is still riding the wave of her success and has embarked on a tour in support of her first-ever greatest hits album. And as fans who attended her at-capacity performance on June 5 at the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills, Calif., learned, we have Bob Dylan to thank for it.
In one of the many revealing points of the night, Jewel told her dream-come-true story of touring with Dylan, who at the time wasn't open to meeting or watching his opening acts. The venerable songwriter became a mentor figure for Jewel, establishing a relationship that would inspire the trajectory of her career, which has amounted to four GRAMMY nominations and six Top 10 albums.
Shortly after 8:45 p.m., Jewel emerged wearing a black summer dress adorned with yellow stars and her hair elegantly pulled back in a ponytail. Her stage setup was minimal, featuring two amps, five guitars and a small table that held a bouquet of flowers. As she opened with "Near You Always," her fingerpicking served as a familiar introduction to her rich vocals and captivating charm that clearly have gotten better with age.
Jewel performed more than 20 songs, including hits and unreleased tracks, joking that she should call this her "Songs of Obscurity tour." And with nearly each song came a story that displayed her unmatched ability to connect with her audience through her songs and life experiences, many of which have made her rise to the top anything but easy. She recounted the time she moved to San Diego at 18 and experienced homelessness, a near-fatal problem with her kidneys and a short shoplifting spell. This series of events led her to write "Hands," which she described as the "manifest of your thoughts."
She recalled the time she returned from a hike through the Northern California mountains on Sept. 14, 2001, to a nation shattered by the Sept. 11 terrorists attacks. A local DJ dedicated "Life Uncommon" to America, a song she had written during a particularly hard time in her life.
Then came the funny stories. After inviting opening act and longtime collaborator Steve Poltz to the stage to perform "You Were Meant For Me," which the pair co-wrote while traveling through Mexico, we learned it was a group of prostitutes at a local taco shop who decided Jewel should record the song. It ended up on her 1995 debut, Pieces Of You. Intertwined were songs about her family ("My Father's Daughter" and "Satisfied") and one dedicated to a friend who died from cancer ("A Hole In My Heart").
Before returning for an encore, she closed with "Who Will Save Your Soul," the first song she ever wrote, garnering a standing ovation. As she thanked the audience, she left us on a somewhat grim but inspiring note.
"My life wasn't supposed to turn out like this," she said. "I was supposed to be another statistic in the gutter. I never thought I'd get paid to do something I loved."
"Near You Always"
"Absence Of Fear"
"Long Slow Slide"
"Sometimes It Be That Way"
"Rosey And Mick"
"Ring Of Fire" (Johnny Cash cover)
"Help Me Make It Through The Night" (Kris Kristofferson cover)
"Two Hearts Breaking"
"A Hole In My Heart"
"My Father's Daughter"
"Freeze In Your Bed" (Atz Lee Kilcher)
"Old Lover's House" (with Steve Poltz)
"You Were Meant For Me" (with Steve Poltz)
"Who Will Save Your Soul"
"The Other Woman" (Nina Simone cover)
To catch Jewel in a city near you, click here for tour dates.