Posted: 03 Feb 2014
Gateshead, 2 February
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.
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.
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
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.
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.