Nov 14, 2011

Suzanne Vega at SPACE on 11/13/11

Tom's Diner

I am sitting
In the morning
At the diner
On the corner

I am waiting
At the counter
For the man
To pour the coffee

And he fills it
Only halfway
And before
I even argue

He is looking
Out the window
At somebody
Coming in...

The story of being one in a crowd and being hardly noticed (do do do do, do do do do, do do do do, do do do do)...

Do you remember this song re-mixed as a dance hit for a while? Ms. Vega was trying to jam out on stage all by her lonesome and I could not help but feel that the audience should have all stood up and started dancing with her. Maybe a New York crowd would have got their groove on. I could have stood up, started dancing, and started the movement but alas, stayed put in my seat with the other midwesterners. So disappointed in myself.

I last saw Ms. Vega at The Park West some years back and was impressed by her stage presence, poise, and unwavering Suzanne Vega-ness. Her vocals are uniquely her own sound. Pretty, soft, and soothing. Her lyrics always tell a meaningful story. You have to read between the lines and/or know the characters to gain full appreciation of her songs. She is funny and bright, introducing each song with wit and candor. Listen to her funny story of her past career as an Avon Lady here:

During this show, Suzanne performed a variety of songs both old and new. This year, she has re-invented herself as an actress, playwright, and composer of a musical with assistance from the great Duncan Sheik (writer of the Spring Awakening musical score). I am a big Spring Awakening fan (great musical). It would be interesting to see her new production, Carson McCullers Talks About Love.


"In Carson McCullers Talks About Love, Suzanne Vega performs the role of the iconic author Carson McCullers, reminiscing about her life, her loves and her art. While explaining herself, McCullers wrestles with the demons that have intruded on her from the beginning of her life. Seamlessly moving between spoken word and song, Ms. Vega channels the resilient spirit and relentless humor of Ms. McCullers in a way that reveals the meeting of two souls in a single work of art. A compelling hybrid of music and theater, Carson McCullers Talks About Love is a musical portrait of one of the most important figures in American literature." If you live in NYC and are a Suzanne Vega fan, this would be worth catching.

Tonight Ms. Vega was accompanied on stage by a guitarist and back up vocalist, Gerry Leonard. Leonard has toured with Suzanne and other artists for many years. He was an interesting contrast to Ms. Vega. He looked like an old rocker sporting a Sargent Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Jacket and his bleached white (or maybe naturally white) hair. Maybe her husband forbid her to go on tour with a young strapping buck stud and Leonard was the solution. After doing my due diligence, I learned that Mr. Leonard is a Dublin born guitarist, singer, songwriter, and producer now based in New York. He has recorded two solo albums under the name Spooky Ghost. The first recording, simply called “Spooky Ghost,” was primarily an ambient guitar record, made in his New York apartment in 1998. His second, 2002’s “The Light Machine,” has been described by David Bowie (who Leonard has toured with) as one of “the most beautiful and moving pieces of work I have possessed in a long time." I could not find Leonard's age anywhere but I guess he is more than just an old rocker. He is a pedigreed and talented old rocker.

In any event, the show was broken up into two sets complete with intermission. The intermission seemed premature having occurred after only 6 songs. The sound at SPACE, per usual, was fantastic. The room is small and relatively "square" so acoustically there is no better "space" than SPACE. Another important fact about seeing shows at this venue is the seating options. For this show, you could purchase a stacking chair seat for $50, a table seat for $75, or standing room only for around $30 if my memory serves me correctly. When you purchase a stacking seat, you are not given a specific seat so you need to still arrive early to select a seat. The crowd at this venue respects that a coat placed on a chair means it is taken. I would recommend arriving when doors open or earlier to secure your seat especially if you plan to sit with your friends. For some shows there is no up charge for stacking chairs (just first come first serve). We secured our seats and went to the bar for a glass of wine, mushroom pizza, and salad - all of which were very good.

All in all, the show and venue get a 5 out of 5 guitar rating for great sound, a great performance of all my fave tunes, and securing rock star parking across the street. I could take off a guitar for what I thought was an awkward intermission but no harm was done and I needed to stretch anyway. Hell, I am not getting any younger either. I should do more stretching.

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting, Mel. I didn't know Duncan Sheik (one of my favorites from the mid-90s) and Suzanne Vega have been collaborating. I'm going to check it out. Thanks for sharing your insights with me. Wish I could have been there with you!