We went to see Suzanne Vega at the Lowry on Monday. It was her first theatre performance of her UK tour, although she had played at the Isle of Wight Festival the day before and had driven up north the day before. It was a good performance – she was on stage for about 90 minutes, including two encores. There was a bit of banter with the audience, which made the show seem quite intimate even though the main theatre in the Lowry is a reasonably sized venue. Saying that she thought she was in Manchester, she obviously hadn’t been briefed about the relationship between Manchester and Salford! She announced that her husband was in the audience, but he didn’t mind her singing songs about her ex-boyfriends so long as they died at the end!
She was supported by Duncan Sheik, a singer-songwriter from New Jersey. He played a solo set but was supported for a few numbers at the end of his set by Suzy V’s guitarist. He had a good voice. Most of his songs were, to put it mildly, downbeat. There was one song about somebody buried alive and another about someone committing suicide on stage!
Suzy V performed a strong set, starting off with “Marlena on the wall“. Somebody posted a video of her performing this song at the Isle of Wight festival the day before the concert at the Lowry on YouTube. Here it is
She included a good number of her better known songs including “Luka“, “Tom’s Diner” and “Caramel“. She also included some I’d not heard before. (Of these, “Frank and Ava” was one I particularly liked). She might be 50 now, but she still has a fine, clear voice. You can hear every word she sings. The volume of the band – just a guitarist and bassist, both very competent musicians, – was mixed at the right level so it didn’t overwhelm the delicate singing. There were some good guitar licks and the bassist was excellent on “Left of centre“.
We were right at the back (only one row behind us) and to the right of the stage. But the Lowry is well laid out so you can see the stage wherever you sit. Its big enough for a good atmosphere, but not so big that you’re ridiculously far away from the act you’ve paid good money to see (although I’d have liked to be closer – book earlier next time!) I much prefer the Lowry to the Arena in Manchester. Smaller venues are definitely best. Reminds me of those I used to go to when I was in my teen such as the good old Free Trade Hall.
After a good set she was called back for two encores . Her final song was “In Liverpool” – perhaps not the best song to play in Salford! – but one of my favourites. A great finish to a great concert.
(For the set list and some photos from the gig click here)