Concert review – Suzanne Vega

31 01 2011

Suzanne Vega
Sunday, January 30
McPherson Playhouse, Victoria

Mention Suzanne Vega to anyone under 35 and you are likely to get a blank stare.  Now start humming to the tune of “Tom’s Diner” and you’ll catch the attention of young music lovers of almost any creed. Last night McPherson Playhouse hosted Suzanne Vega’s first ever appearance in Victoria and the only Canadian date on her retrospective Close-Up tour. She strolled on stage in a classy suit; lips painted a familiar bright red. With a graceful smile she was immediately in control of the audience, a strong contrast to the raw performances of the 2011 Victoria Idol finalists who opened for her.

Suzanne Vega by Keely J. Dakin

Launching into a couple of her love songs, Vega wryly recounted that one reporter didn’t agree that these were love songs, “‘Marlene On the Wall’ is not about love, it’s about angst,’” Vega grins, “and the difference is?”

Playing a combination of her best known works, (“Luka,” “The Queen and The Soldier,” “Tom’s Diner,”) with a few newer pieces, Vega was backed up on electrical guitar by Dublin-raised Gerry Leonard. Vega’s voice was strong and soothing, though occasionally the guitar overpowered her lyrics.

Best known for her musical storytelling, Vega has had a long relationship with theatre as well.  Near the end of the night she played a song from the play, Carson McCullers Sings About Love, which will premiere in April at New York City’s Rattlestick Theatre.

It wasn’t a full house, but the energy from the audience was strong, giving a warm, nostalgic feel to the night. She carried the audience through her often depressing songs, with laughter and humour as a welcome counterbalance.

—Keely J. Dakin

Keely J. Dakin is a student in Western Academy’s Written Image journalism program. You can see more of her work here.

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