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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, February 15, 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 7
Suzanne Vega delights with old and new favorites
Arts & Entertainment
ALL STORIES
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Suzanne Vega delights with old and new favorites

by Albert Rodriguez - SGN A&E Writer

SUZANNE VEGA
NORDSTROM RECITAL HALL
February 5


She made it seem effortless. Even when she slipped and fell down on stage, it looked like part of the show because she recovered so gracefully. This is what makes Suzanne Vega such a prized performer. She's a natural - from telling quirky stories to re-starting a song on a different chord to nervously introducing new music, there's a realness that goes hand-in-hand with her work.

Vega performed to a full room at Nordstrom Recital Hall (inside Benaroya Hall) on the official start of a nationwide tour, partly to support the final volume of her Close-Up album series and partly to road-test fresh material that will eventually make its way onto future records.

Wearing slim black pants with matching sport coat and a black/white shirt accentuated with a top hat, the New York singer-songwriter opened with 'Marlene On the Wall' from her first album, a song inspired by the late Marlene Dietrich. While she played guitar for most of the show, there were times Vega simply stood and snapped her fingers, allowing master musician Gerry Leonard to take the wheel. This happened during a wonderful, sultry delivery of 'Caramel.'

Three newly written pieces were ushered out by the Grammy winner, including an edgier number called 'I Never Wear White' that was well received by the audience. But the highlight of the set's first half was a gentle, sublime version of 'Small Blue Thing' that seemed to spellbind the 500-seat theater.

THE 'TOMBSTONE' TALE
After an intermission, Vega and Leonard returned to perform songs mostly from her back catalog, including a terrific rendition of 'Left of Center,' a track from the John Hughes film Pretty in Pink. She also reeled out 'Tombstone,' which came with an interesting story - apparently, it was penned shortly after a family cat passed away and was then given a bath/shampoo in the sink before being sent off down the river in a flaming burial raft. Vega told everyone it made her think of how she wanted to be laid to rest merely with a tombstone, which led to the song.

Though a fan requested 'Luka' earlier in the evening, Vega didn't set foot on it until the final 15 minutes of the concert. It sounded amazing for being 25 years old. Ditto for 'Tom's Diner,' which closed out the main set and during which the artist wrong-footed herself and fell on her knees. But, she got up swiftly and danced, finishing it with a wide smile on her face.

When she came out for an encore, Vega immediately said, 'We're not talking about what just happened.' She jokingly continued, 'I'm not discussing it.' A shimmery version of 'Rosemary' capped the evening.

Suzanne Vega has a strong fan base around the world. An admirer in France I know was awaiting word on the Seattle show set list. And it's no surprise, as she's one of a dying breed - a real and honest storyteller.

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