Suzanne Vega Returns to her Greenwich Village Days… (Lafayette, then).

12 Dec

On the fourth and final show of Vega´s NYC dates, a virtually full and refurbished theatre sat patiently waiting for Suzanne and Gerry to take up their place in front of the psychedelic background.  3-D specs not required.

Courtesy of good old Google.

Get a load of those bangs...

Back on home-turf, and still received as warmly as the early days playing Greenwich Village clubs in support of her 1985 debut.

If you love tales of transformation, try witnessing a ninety minute Suzanne Vega show.

It seems ironic as Suzanne tells the story of Carson McCullers and how in the 1930´s she dreamt of moving to NYC and making it as a writer.  Based on Lafayette Street, Joes´s Pub is currently undergoing renovations and now offers a pretty swanky venue with dining and fine wines on offer.  As if she isn´t busy enough, Carson McCullers talks about Love, written by Vega, opened in theatres in May 2011.  Inspired by a book at age seventeen which wrote of influential authors, including McCullers, Suzanne identified with this icon and at the time, wrote Iron Butterfly (co-written with Duncan Sheik).

Suzanne is definitely one-of-a-kind but definitely doesn´t just write from a monochronistic bell-tower.  Creating a bricolage from her surroundings and absorbing the culture around her, she reflects out innocent and fresh creations.

Inspiration would seem to come in the unlikeliest of places – Sparklehorse, literary idol McCullers and even cremated Pharoah-Funeral cats (as Vega´s own Mum in the audience can testify).

With an almost self-effacing yet justified bow after each song, there are definitely flashbacks to a nostalgic 1940´s and, not unlike Natalie Merchant and her Retrospective performances.

Companions are a catalyst for contention though – as Suzanne herself insightfully observes through her internalisation of To Kill a Mockingbird´s Harper Lee characterization, managing to transcend time and space in the process: “I have more to say than Hemingway…” – for that reason I think this is where the comparisions must end.

As a woman she possesses the ability to inhabit roles that are both defined – and inconsequential – by gender.  Luka, taken from 1987 album Solitude Standing, sounds as chirpy now as it probably always did – but when considering the subject matter of a little boy with many dark memories, it shows Suzanne`s remarkable insight and ability to portray one thing in quite another way.

Like a book – be it by Carson or Harper – a song is supposed to outlive its creator.  Like the structure of a robust building it should stay standing despite weathering and time.

Vega manages to cram lengthy narratives into songs that somehow tell you even more about something or someone – in a slither of the space. “You come from far away with pictures in your eyes…”  We can´t always be sure where these songs came from but they come from somewhere and made their way to Suzanne´s eyes.  Maybe as pictures, maybe as words.

The craziest and best thing is how we interpret a piece of music.

How do you absorb your environment?

She sings on the third song of her set: “Today I am a small, blue thing…I am scattering like light…I never blink…”

Eyes that don´t blink won´t necessarily see what the next person with unblinking eyes, sees.  Apparently, Gerry Leonard on guitar was subtly pressing the foot-pedal on loop and building up textured layers with his guitar.

My eyes weren´t open to that.

How did I know this?  In chatting to the guy next to me, after the show.

Amazing what two people can take from a live performance.  Each one is unique.

I guess we all see what we want to see.

And in part honour to Sparklehorse´s The Man Who Played God and in part to Pablo Picasso – “All the things you can see around you, you can change them, rearrange them in your mind…”

Close-Up, Volume 4, Songs of Family (released on Suzanne Vega`s own label, Amenuensis Productions) is in the works – you can check in at her official website for news:


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