Suzanne Vega – Barbican

Why this gig?

I was a huge fan of Suzanne Vega back in the 80s (wasn’t everyone?) I saw her a few times back then, but got out of the habit of seeing her live at some point in the mid-90s. But a couple of years ago I saw her at the Union Chapel and enjoyed it so much that I’ve seen her whenever possible since.

Support

I hadn’t heard of Natasha North before and I now realise that this was a massive oversight on my part. She is wonderful. Lovely folky-poppy songs and a great personality and stage presence. I’ll definitely be seeing her again as soon as possible.

Headline

The last time I saw Suzanne Vega at the Barbican (it was a tour celebrating the 25th anniversary of Solitude Standing), she played with a full band. This time it’s a rather different show as it’s just her and guitarist Gerry Leonard. But it’s still great. A lot of her songs don’t need the full band treatment – they sound great with a couple of guitars and Suzanne’s sublime voice.

All the old favourites are played. She starts with “Marlene on the Wall” and later we get “Left of Centre”, “Luka” and “Tom’s Diner”. There is also time for a number of much-loved old album tracks. I particularly enjoyed hearing “Small Blue Thing” and “The Queen and the Soldier”.

And, unlike the last time I saw her, she has a new album out. Tracks from Tales From the Realm of the Queen of Pentacles obviously don’t get quite the reaction of the older songs, but they stand up pretty well and I can easily imagine something like “Fool’s Complaint” or “I Never Wear White” being greeted as an old friend in the future.

She might not be quite as popular as she was 25 years ago, but Suzanne Vega is still an impressive live act. If you have any love at all for her old songs, then I highly recommend seeing her live.

The set list is on Setlist.fm.

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