I first saw Suzanne Vega in concert in London when I was 21. This time, in Melbourne at the Palais Theatre, I went with my daughter, who is right now of the same age, 21. Life can have strange coincidences. Life too, as we all know, moves incredibly fast.
As for Suzanne Vega, she seems to have hardly aged, from a distance anyway. Her vibrant, smoky voice sounded the same and she connected with the audience, telling them ever so often about how she came about writing each song. She mentioned that “Gypsy”, a tuneful number, filled with vulnerability, was mostly written when she was 18. She talked about influences on her music including Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen and Peter Gabriel.
She opened with Tom’s Diner, which immediately mesmerised the audience, followed by her hit “Luka”. She unwaveringly played songs from her albums “Solitude Standing” and “99.9 Fº”, as she said she would.
The louder numbers were from the “99.9 Fº” album, especially “Blood Makes Noise” which was interesting and, instead of Dylan going electric, was Vega going industrial.
After the encore, she capped off this enjoyable concert with “Marlene on the Wall”, “Left of Center” and “Tom’s Diner”.
The audience loved it. But I was left wondering why she chose to focus on these 2 albums and left out significant songs like “The Queen and the Soldier”, “Caramel” and “Tired of Sleeping” … but that, I suppose, is what artists do. They challenge you.
It was certainly good Suzanne Vega again. I hope I don’t have to wait till my grandchild is 21 though to see her again!