California Cerritos Centre For Performing Arts

Only the ones with the notebooks are complaining...

Midway through her acoustic set at the Cerritos Center for Performing Arts, Jewel sings her big smash hit ‘You Were Meant For Me’ with the song’s co-author Steve Poltz. A fairly normal turn of events except that instead of pairing her breathy, little girl voice with Poltz’s gravel tones, the verses emerging from Jewel’s pouty mouth come in the form of spot-on imitations of, in succession, Marilyn Monroe, Bob Dylan, The Cranberries and Betty Boop. This following an acoustic set from Poltz, who seems bent on cornering the market on punchline rock, with songs that lull the listener with soft strumming and then deliver a jolt with unexpected lines such as “monkeys coming out of your ass”.

Jewel’s similarly informal delivery goes over well with the thousand plus fans seated in the ornate theatre, a throng that laughs and sympathises as she editorialises mid-song with a couplet along the lines of “Charlie’s Angels made me sad/Cameron Diaz made me feel so fat”. While careful to include her most popular songs like ‘Hands’ and the show closer ‘Who Will Save Your Soul’, the blond Alaskan yodeller tackles new tunes as well, including the confessional ‘Stevenville, Texas’, that details her feelings about her new relationship with a man from that town and her doubts about the merits of fame.

“You’re vocal tonight,” she offers, after graciously deflecting one of countless marriage proposals made between songs. At times the casual bent to the show seems reminiscent of seeing live music in a coffee shop (albeit a real big one) like the one where Jewel first met Poltz, with the line between performer and audience as fuzzy as the math presidential pretender George W. Bush always

complains about. Jewel adds to the java joint vibe by reading a poem from her latest book of gathered words, this one describing her occasional interactions with some call girls she used to know during her much publicised van-dwelling years.

Maybe it’s the poetry reading, the endless arrangements of flowers delivered to the stage, or maybe it’s Jewel’s ‘Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus’-styled speech to the crowd mid-gig, but the evening feels a lot more like hanging out with Jewel than seeing a show, and only the ones with the notebooks are complaining.

Colin Devenish