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Wed 15 Feb 2023

Review – Suzanne Vega on 14th February 2023

On at the Corn Exchange

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Review by Stephen Foster

An Intimate Evening of Songs & Stories With Suzanne Vega
Tuesday 14th February 2023

In a career spanning almost four decades Santa Monica’s Suzanne Vega certainly felt the love for her timeless music on Valentine’s night in downtown Ipswich. Accompanied by former David Bowie guitarist and band leader Gerry Leonard, Vega was in fine form treating an almost sold-out crowd to a career retrospective.

 

The Californian first tasted success in 1985 when her song Marlene On The Wall made its mark on the charts so it made perfect sense for her to start proceedings with that. Wearing her trademark bowler hat, Vega soon built up a good rapport with the audience who clearly enjoyed hearing about her early love life.

 

If I’m honest, I was more interested in the twists and turns being provided by her extraordinary guitarist. The Irishman had the appearance of mature punk rocker which probably explained his edgy style of playing. His stunning guitar work did at times overshadow Vega’s work on acoustic guitar but on the other hand it did give proceedings a bit of a rockier feel thereby taking things to more interesting and different places.

 

In the old days I’m not sure how The Grand Hall’s acoustics would have coped but no need to worry about that in 2023. Ipswich Borough Council has invested in a superb new sound system which means the singing and musicianship were crystal clear.

 

Vega’s 75 minute set contained all the songs you’d expect. It included Luka, Tom’s Diner, Left Of Center, Caramel and Gypsy. My personal favourite though was In Liverpool which harked back to Vega being reunited with her first boyfriend.

 

The obligatory encore began with a version of Lou Reed’s Walk On The Wild Side before she returned to her own repertoire in the shape of Blood Makes Noise and Calypso. At the age of 63 Vega has nothing to prove. She still packs places out, her voice remains very strong indeed and clearly she still loves being up on stage.

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