Suzanne Vega

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Suzanne Vega

Suzanne Vega

Posted: 03 Feb 2014

The Sage Gateshead, 2 February

 

Suzanne Vega retains a loyal following, and Hall One of the Sage was almost full on the eve the release of what is only her second album since 2001. Entitled ‘Tales From The Realm of the Queen of Pentacles’ – reference to a deck of tarot cards, she explained – the New Yorker performed six tracks from the new album in a set of barely an hour, although she did return for a three-song encore.

Backed only by guitarist Gerry Leonard, it appeared initially that such a stripped-down approach would help showcase Vega’s songs which rely heavily on their lyrical content. It didn’t. Too often the guitar accompaniment overpowered the songs with – my pet hate – pre-recorded additional backing also detracting from the strengths of Vega’s compositions.

Kicking off with a half-hearted version of ‘Marlene On the Wall’ the set interwove new and old songs, ‘Left of Centre’ being a highlight before concluding with her best known songs, ‘Luka’ and ‘Tom’s Diner’; both from the classic 1987 album ‘Solitude Standing’. ‘Luka’ was overpowered by guitar, ‘Tom’s Diner’ was ruined by it. Originally performed a cappella, the catchiness of the song was almost totally lost.

An encore commenced with her first ever performance of Lou Reed’s ‘Walk on the Wild Side’ ahead of an appearance on Jools Holland’s Radio Show. This also lacked sparkle on a night which ultimately was more Suzanne Vaguer rather than Suzanne Vega.

A mention for Buckinghamshire newcomer Natasha North, who provided the support act:  she played for 30 minutes and earned a huge interval queue to buy her EP.


Rob Mason

 

 

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