Jewel: Greatest Hits Tour, 4.5 stars
Review by Revonda Mehovic
Jewel: “Greatest Hits Tour”; one night only at the Wilbur Theatre, 246 Tremont Street, Boston, MA. Catch her again tonight in Ridgefield, CT before the tour moves to Washington, D.C. For more information on Jewel and upcoming tour dates and venues, see http://www.jeweljk.com/tourdates.html . The Wilbur Theatre is also hosting a number of other great upcoming performances, including the “UCB: Queens of Improv with Horatio Sanz and Rachel Dratch” this Thursday, 3/21. For more information concerning upcoming shows at the Wilbur Theatre, check out www.thewilburtheatre.com
Review by Revonda Mehovic
Jewel: “Greatest Hits Tour”; one night only at the Wilbur Theatre, 246 Tremont Street, Boston, MA. Catch her again tonight in Ridgefield, CT before the tour moves to Washington, D.C. For more information on Jewel and upcoming tour dates and venues, see http://www.jeweljk.com/tourdates.html . The Wilbur Theatre is also hosting a number of other great upcoming performances, including the “UCB: Queens of Improv with Horatio Sanz and Rachel Dratch” this Thursday, 3/21. For more information concerning upcoming shows at the Wilbur Theatre, check out http://www.thewilburtheatre.com/
Stepping into the Wilbur Theatre on Tremont Street is a bit like stepping back into time. From the worn, gilded balconies to the aged marble flooring, it has the faded grandeur of old movie theatres. I almost had to pinch myself to make sure I wasn’t on the set of a remake for “The Majestic”, or some similar film where an older theatre is given a second chance at vitality. Due to these qualities, I thought it was the ideal Boston setting for Jewel’s Greatest Hits Tour concert. When I think of Jewel, I get nostalgic. She reminds me of the time when an overly-earnest girl with a guitar was something that the mainstream wanted to hear. I recall years ago being in a coffee shop where Jewel’s “Pieces of You” was playing over the speakers and overhearing two construction workers discussing her music. “I really like her”, one of them said, “She has a voice like water”.
In addition to her “Greatest Hits” album, Jewel has released multiple albums in the recent past, including 2011’s “The Merry Goes ‘Round”. Yet, in spite of this, I’ve always thought of Jewel as a singer-songwriter from the past rather than one currently creating new music. With these preconceptions, aided by the ambiance of the Wilbur theatre, I fully expected Jewel’s concert to transport me back to that rather naive vision of the past. After all, when an artist finally creates a greatest hits album, it’s a way of banking on nostalgia.
The leading act on the tour, Holly Williams, had me congratulating myself on my predictions. Holly Williams is a gifted artist, but she is stuck in the past. She fit all of my preconceptions of what I expected the concert to be. Her lyrics sounded like they came from a spiral notebook adorned with stickers, all of her music was personal and usually referred somehow to her family in Louisiana. I could see her music having a following with those who love artists that walk the line between folk an country, but it just didn’t appeal to me.
Jewel’s performance, by contrast, exceeded my expectations. From the moment that she sauntered onto the stage, it was clear that she was the leading act. Jewel has all the aura of being the coolest person in the room. On her arrival, the audience immediately went into a rapturous frenzy that I did not think that many of them would still be capable. After finishing her first song, Jewel languidly remarked that she’d just eaten a lot of peanuts, so that in addition to being thirsty she wasn’t able to completely capture the full dynamic range that the the song required. From that moment, it became clear that whatever the audience feels about her, Jewel doesn’t take herself too seriously. For the rest of the show, her performance became a mix of the incredible vocalizations and phenomenal guitar playing that she is known for coupled with wry asides. Before singing “Just Passing Time”, she wryly remarked that she wrote it when she was 18 and now realizes that it could probably be referred to as a song about stalking.
In between shrieks of, “I Love you, Jewel”, the audience made requests. Sometimes Jewel would actually play them, or promise to play them later. But just as often, she would say that she couldn’t remember how to play a song, her expression indicating that she just didn’t feel like it. If Jewel was any less of a musician, or had even a little less stage presence, it’s possible that her more casual approach to performance would not have worked. Instead, what might be off-putting in a different performer came across as charming. I don’t think anyone in the audience resented her playing what she wanted to play. She is a performer who became an icon due to several of her hits, but she is also someone who has since moved on. Although there were many who wanted her to play their radio favorites, they, like me, were just happy to her her sing. After all, she has a voice like water and can really play the guitar.