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Suzanne Vega

De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill - 19th August, 2018

Written By Andy Gunton

She's still standing.

This was my second time of seeing Suzanne Vega live, as she played at the White Rock Theatre in Hastings around 15 years ago, with a band that included her then husband Mitchell Froom on keyboards.

This was an altogether different gig, as it featured just two of her albums, ‘Solitude Standing’ (1987) and ‘99.9F’ (1992), played in their entirety, and in the original track order too.

I must admit to not being entirely convinced by the recent trend of acts playing ‘classic’ albums in full at gigs.

After all, how many albums do you know that don’t have at least one track that doesn’t quite stand up to quality of the others?

So, I approached this gig with a certain amount of trepidation, especially as I wasn’t that familiar with the ‘99.9F’ album anyway.

Having said that it does make the life of the reviewer a lot easier, as you know exactly what's coming next, and in which order the night's songs were played.

The evening was bookended by possibly Suzanne Vega's most famous song, 'Tom's Diner'.

An acapella version started us off in fine style, followed by 'Luka', quite possibly the only song about child abuse to ever grace the UK charts.

A feature of so many artists of a certain age is their inbetween song patter, which Suzanne Vega excels at, telling us the stories and inspiration behind her songs, and a few amusing anecdotes too, including a great one about Bono.

This was a gig that was all about the music, with the minimalist light show leaving your attention fixed on the musicians, and the music they were playing.

Mention must be made of Vega's excellent backing band, who really added something to the songs, filling out the sound with guitar effects, and the judicious use of a few backing tracks containing percussion and keyboards.

The highlight of the whole evening for me was the second side of 'Solitude Standing', which started with the title track.

A section of the gig which showcased the skills of those backing musicians perfectly, especially guitarist Gerry Leonard, who seemed to have a whole orchestra contained within his guitar pedals.

This was definitely a gig of two halfs, with the second half dedicated to the lesser known of tonights two albums, '99.9F'.

A rockier album than 'Solitude Standing', and one which starts off very well with songs such as 'Blood Makes Noise'. 'In Liverpool', and the title track itself.

But, for me at least, the album falters a bit after that, and consequently so did the gig.

I may have been alone in thinking that though, as the end of the performance brought a huge ovation, with some audience members standing to applaud, and encouraging a well deserved encore.

With Suzanne Vega now resplendent in a top hat, we were then treated to 'Marlene On The Wall', 'Left of Centre', which featured some excellent bass playing by Mike Visceglia, and that reprise of 'Tom's Diner', this time performed in the style of DNA, who had a top 5 hit with the song back in 1990.

A perfect trio of songs to end the evening with.

Despite my reservations, this was a quality gig, from a quality singer/songwriter/performer, backed by a quality band.

All the ingredients that go to make up a quality evening, which this certainly was.

 

For more info about Suzanne Vega, go to: suzannevega.com

For info about future gigs at the De La Warr Pavilion, go to: dlwp.com/whats-on

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