I saw Suzanne Vega in Paris around 2000 or 2001 and I recall being really impressed by her performance. Ten years later the set list was largely the same, as was the format – Vega on acoustic guitar accompanied by an electric guitarist (Gerry Leonard I think). It’s hard to tell after so many years, but I seem to recall it being a more energetic gig in Paris. Then again, we’re both ten years older so maybe you’d expect that!
As with Neil Hannon’s gig in the same room in September, this was a mostly seated affair with a cabaret-like feeling. There was no support act (which made the ticket price of €22 plus membership seem a little steep), but she played for about 90 minutes. The songs would have been mostly familiar to anyone with a Best of collection. She peppered the “hits” throughout the set, opening with Marlene On The Wall and holding Luka and Tom’s Diner until close to the end.
She chatted quite a bit in between songs, which helped to hold the attention of the audience; still at times it was all too easy to let your mind wander away during some of the less well-known songs. But I and those with me enjoyed the evening very much overall. She has written lots of good songs and a few great ones, and the guitar-playing was top notch. At 51 years she wasn’t even the oldest performer headlining at the Melkweg on Friday: Tom Jones, 70, was singing next door. More energy next door perhaps, but I suspect we got the better deal from a music point of view.