19 June 2010

Pikes Peak Center, Colorado Springs, CO


In a perhaps unusual fashion, I became interested in this artist when I found out she had recorded a few songs with a backing band of one of my favorite artists, Neil Young.  Like millions of other fans, in Jewel we appreciate an truly unduplicated talent, a poet with horsepower rivaling Bob Dylan, and a remarkably versatile, amazing voice.

Radney Foster opened the show with a solo acoustic set.  I had only vaguely heard of him before, as a founding member of Foster & Lloyd, and as co-author of a track by one of my favorite groups, Poco, called "Rough Edges".

After a sound-check break, Jewel immediately walked out to an open microphone with her strong, a cappella rendition of "Somewhere Over The Rainbow", matched to the beginning of a night full of synthetically-generated, yet very natural-looking, delightful outdoorsy scenery.  This background accompanied Jewel, one (1) acoustic guitar, and not much else for this impressively raw concert.

Subsequently she performed a track from her smash 1995 release, Pieces Of You, "Near You Always", which borrows a guitar riff from John Denver's "Looking For Space". Speaking of, when I saw John in concert the same year as the release of Jewel's debut album, I attended with what I thought was the most mellow audience I'd ever seen/heard.  But, that 1995 crowd was indeed outdone by tonight's Pikes Peak Centre crowd, who did not once stand either when this world-renowned superstar strutted onto the stage, when she left, or for that matter any time in between! 

In between the moments of faux-nature scenery were candid photos from her childhood, many of which appeared during her solo acoustic take on "My Father's Daughter". 

Continuing the scenery theme, as for most shows during this tour, Jewel has composed a song about the city in which she performed, tonight of course being Colorado Springs.  And, truly not bad at all for an hour's worth of composition labor. 

Jewel left the fans of her hits with no disappointment, as she sang and strummed gorgeous versions of "Hands", "Intuition", "Standing Still", "Foolish Games", and "You Were Meant For Me". 

Tonight's show may as well have been an episode of Storytellers, with Jewel openly talked about being homeless, having her car stolen, being a victim of sexual harassment, once being rather embarrassed by her father, and strings of fans with behavior she described as "creepy".

She wryly introduced "(Would you like to) Catch A Cold (With me)" as her "songwriting accomplishment for a lifetime".

Jewel sensitively and passionately dedicated several songs to her partner of 11 years (and husband of 2 years), Ty Murray, mentioning also how she met him at a Denver rodeo.

Jewel introduced the song "Who Will Save Your Soul" as the first she had ever written (at age 16), and also described how she felt the first time she heard it on the car radio--she worried that she sounded too much like "Kermit The Frog".

Indeed Jewel has over the years deliberately changed her voice from that first impression, now maintaining stronger tonal control as well as pitch stability, while not whatsoever sacrificing the stunning strength/power/mobility her voice projects.

After an encore duet with Radney Foster on the Cash/Carter classic "Jackson", Jewel showcased her yodeling skills, which remain truly unmatched in pop music history.

Strange as it may sound, on the surface Jewel has, from time to time, appeared as an artist with almost reckless disregard for trend, or career advice; yet deep down as many in the audience have discovered, Jewel reveals herself as actually an incredibly shy, humble human being who for almost all of her life has been trying very hard to feel like she fits in. Hopefully one day she'll appreciate her talents as much as her huge fan base has for over a decade.

[****] - Steven T.

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