Saturday, 2 February 2008

Suzanne Vega

The Palms at Crown, Melbourne.

It's been 15 long years since Suzanne Vega last toured Australia. And age has not withered her nor custom staled her infinite variety.

Actually, it has withered a little. But not so much as you might think. She can still belt out a tune or whisper a melody, as required, like few others.

Suzanne Vega is one of the very few acts that my wife and I both really like (the others being Air, The Decemberists and They Might Be Giants) so of course we weren't going to miss this one.

The Palms is an oddish venue for someone like Suzanne Vega. I suspect the only reason she played there was the dearth of any other venues, due to all the acts in town for the Big Day Out. That and Rufus Wainwright had already snaffled Hamer Hall.

The Palms is not a bad venue, mind. The acoustics are quite magnificent and the seating very comfortable. The setup is just a bit strange and very, very Vegas-tacky. You feel like Wayne Newton is about to come out and start crooning Me and Bobby McGee.

But back to Suzanne. She really is a great live performer. We were treated to amazing full band renditions of her old classics (Luka / Marlene on the Wall / Tom's Diner) and even the thin acoustic versions of her early 90s stuff (like Blood Makes Noise) was sort of beautiful. In its own way.

In between all this the set was heavy with tracks from her new album Beauty and Crime. And while this was no bad thing, because it is a great album, it's been 15 years! 15 years, Suzanne!

We've missed the last ten world tours and to my mind, that means there's some catching up to do before we roll on into the new stuff. Hmmm?

In fact, there was very little in the set from said missing 15-year period. Only one track was played from our favourite album Songs in Red and Gray (and that was the one my wife doesn't really like) and Nine Objects of Desire was sadly under-represented.

Then to top it off, the show was reasonably short, clocking in at only ninety minutes, which included the two encores.

I know it's all about quality over quantity, and all that good stuff. And the quality was certainly there.

It's just that a little more quantity would have been nice.

3.5 out of 5