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Eagle Eye Media presents
Jewel: Live at Humphrey's by the Bay (2001)

"You dorks. 'Wooo! She took her coat off!' That's what I like to get applauded for."
- Jewel

Review By: Joel Cunningham   
Published: March 22, 2004

Stars: Jewel Kilcher
Director: Mike Drumm

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (some language)
Run Time: 00h:57m:24s
Release Date: March 23, 2004
UPC: 801213901999
Genre: pop

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
C+ BB-B+ C

DVD Review

Pop songstress Jewel, well known for living in her van before her 1995 coffeehouse debut, Pieces of You, became a multi-platinum hit, has had to weather a lot of fan criticism in the last few years. Cries of "sellout!" are common for any cult hit that becomes a star, of course, but with each album, a certain segment of Jewel's fan base seems to grow more critical of her choices. 1998's Spirit was too polished. 2001's This Way, too poppy. While I have actually grown tired of her whiney musings on early albums, some fans long for the erudite, unplugged songstress who penned that heralded poetic tome, Lyrics Jewel Was Too Lazy to Write Music For, or perhaps, A Night Without Armor.

This performance, recorded in 2001 before the start of the This Way tour (also preceding the "That Song in the Cannon Digital Pictures Commercials" tour) sidesteps those issues, featuring Jewel front and center and, for the most part, acoustic and alone. Of the 13 songs included, nine are just Jewel and her guitar.

Instead of her usual pre-show yodeling, she favors some Lord of the Rings-style warbling that is, I think, supposed to be Italian (the title is Per la Gloria d'adorarvi), but it could easily be played over the closing credits of "Enya: The Movie." She follows that with some stage antics as she asks for a volunteer from the audience to help her remember the lyrics to Kiss the Flame (that's what you get for writing long, non-repetitive songs, missy!). It's cute, especially when the fan starts sort of singing and dancing along, then stares at Jewel's hands as she plays guitar, and it totally looks like she is staring at her chest. Which seems less unlikely moments later when she stands behind the singer and sort of clasps her shoulders, and Jewel gets this really funny "inappropriate touch!" look on her face.

Sadly, the fun stops there. The editors seem to have ruthlessly excised any remaining live performance banter, as Jewel rarely even intros the songs or says thank you or anything. At one point, she says "I'll play something from my new album," nevermind that the previous three songs were also from said. The performances all sound great; Jewel loves to mix things up live, and you never feel like you're just listening to the album. But the direction is dull. Lots of long pans and sustained close-ups, no fun angles or nifty compositions. And the audience shots were a big mistake. Jewel fans aren't known for being overly enthusiastic, and Humphrey's (now even more by the Bay!) doesn't seem very conducive to dancing, so it just looks like a bunch of bored parents too tired to care what they are listening to.

But when Jewel finally brings out the band near the end for some amped up versions of her radio singles, things pick up a bit, and it's a nice contrast to the earlier, more mellow performances. After a fairly standard rendition of You Were Meant for Me, she breathes new life into the overplayed Hands and offers a crazy scat rendition of Who Will Save Your Soul, with the added lyric, "when the kitty is hungry, it goes meow meow meow!" Yes it does, Jewel. Yes it does.

Jewel: Live at Humphrey's by the Bay includes performances of the following:

Per la Gloria d'adorarvi
Near You Always
Kiss the Flame
Rosy and Mick
Everything Breaks Sometimes
Sometimes It Be That Way
Grey Matter
Break Me
The New Wild West
You Were Meant for Me
Everybody Needs Someone Sometimes
Who Will Save Your Soul

Rating for Style: C+
Rating for Substance: B


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: This is generally a fairly good video presentation. Close-ups of the singer are crisp and clear, and I noticed no excessive grain or digital artifacting. However, colors are a little unstable, and whenever the stage lights get wacky (say, casting a blue light on Jewel's face) there is slight blooming. Detail is only fair, and long shots are a little blurred.

Image Transfer Grade: B-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: Jewel: Live includes three audio flavors: regular DD 2.0, deluxe DD 5.1, and extra tasty crispy DTS. All three tracks sound good, but the latter two are preferable for a better blending across the front soundstage and a stronger center channel that lends oomph to Jewel's performance. Since the concert is largely acoustic, there isn't much reason to make use of the surrounds and LFE (I can't say I noticed much from the surrounds at all, actually), but the portion of the concert with Jewel's backing band has a lot more kick.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+


Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Music/Song Access with 13 cues and remote access
1 Featurette(s)
Weblink/DVD-ROM Material
Packaging: Keep Case
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Bonus performances
  2. Discography
  3. Jukebox
  4. Photo gallery
Extras Review: Jewel: Live at Humphrey's by the Bay doesn't make very good use of all that DVD has to offer, but there is at least one interesting bonus. The "Jukebox" selection gives you the chance to listen to audio-only versions of each song from the main feature, and you can arrange them or repeat them in any order you want. Kinda neat.

There are three "bonus videos" that sound nice but feature middling video quality (they were shot handheld by a caffeine addict with ADD, or so it would seem). See a blurry shape that I assume is Jewel perform Standing Still, Love Me Just Leave Me Alone, and Do You Want to Play. Also in this section is a travel/tour montage set to Jesus Loves Me (the Jewel song, not the children's bible song, though that might be an amusing cover).

In an 11-minute interview, Jewel gets artsy-fartsy about her craft, and spends a lot of time talking about being genuine and making music that inspires you, not music driven by the fickle public and fads that will soon sound dated. Which is kind of funny, if you listen to all the fans who called her most recent album, 0304, an Avril/Britney-esque sellout (I like it, so those fans can go back to listen to that old "Cat Power" CD, before she got "too commercial.").

Also included are a discography and a nifty animated photo gallery set to Break Me.

Extras Grade: C


Final Comments

Jewel: Live at Humphrey's by the Bay is fairly routine as concert DVDs go, but the singer is in fine form and the disc includes a few interesting extras. With a street price around $10, I can't imagine fans regretting a purchase.


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