Working with a minimal set, a guitarist with a minimal understanding of how to accompany her, and a sound engineer apparently paying minimal attention to his evening’s work, Suzanne Vega was, nonetheless, a sparky and engaging hostess, leading the audience through a set which featured several different personae, slickly connected with stories and anecdotes from her life and career.
Both her rather beautiful and fragile voice and her rather delicate and vulnerable guitar technique were too often challenged by both the volume and tones of her accompaniest. For all that, he and Vega must be congratulated on some interesting arrangements designed, presumably, to try to keep a set largely reliant on her oldest tunes sounding fresh.
Artists like Vega can choose to embrace their most popular work or reject it, and while her entrance was met with a positively gushing flow of goodwill, this audience needed feeding. And fed they were: from first tune to encore, this was an evening to please those for whom Vega is frozen in her first two albums.
It’s a problem played out the world over, as an artist fails to recapture the purity and honesty of their first few works, and relies upon them ever after. But those who might criticise with the observation that Vega hasn’t written any songs as affecting and beautiful as ‘The Queen And The Soldier’, as haunting as ‘Luka’, or as original as ‘Tom’s Diner’ since her first flush of success miss one important point: neither has anybody else.
Concert Hall, Brighton Dome, 14 June 2012