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Review and photos by Mary AndrewsThis show completed the triad of brilliant female singer-songwriters performing in Tucson this weekend. Suzanne Vega greeted the crowd with, "Thank you for not staying home and watching the Oscars!" Vega offered old songs, as well as new songs from her album release last year, "Tales From The Realm Of The Queen Of Pentacle."
This concert had an intimacy that the Fox Theatre effortlessly nurtures. The sound and the acoustics provided a perfect conduit for this intimacy. Suzanne played guitar on many of the songs and Gerry Leonard's exceptional guitar and command of digital delay made the exuberant sound full and magical. Leonard, also known as ambient musician Spooky Ghost and as David Bowie's musical director, produced and co-wrote Vega's new songs. Ms. Vega's vocal narratives were still the primary focus, clear and enduring.
Ms. Vega freely gave a narrative to her creation of some of her songs. "Marlene on the Wall" was influenced by the actress, Marlene Dietrich. Back when I wrote the song, I was a young woman. I had a poster on my wall of Marlene Dietrich and I had this fantasy that if this poster had eyes that could see into my room, she might have some advice for me and about the activities in my room at that time. I imagined that the advice would have been to me ‘don't give away the goods too soon.' I thought that was pretty good advice and I tried to follow it more or less. Back a couple of years ago I sat down and read her biography, written by her daughter. Apparently that was not the advice she would have given me. It was not the advice she followed for herself. According to her daughter, she gave those goods away whenever she felt like it, which was early enough. So if I had known that, I would have written a totally different song. My whole career would have gone on a different path. We might not be here right now. So I just wanted to share that with you."
There were six songs from Vega's most recent release. She spoke of ‘Fools Complaint,' "and the fool I'm talking about refers to the fool on the tarot card. That little guy that is the first character in the deck that we see. Always cheerful, always optimistic. He's got everything he needs. He got a bundle over his shoulder. He's got his dog at his feet. They say he's always cheerful even though we can see he's about to step right off a cliff. So, I like him. In this song he is having an argument with the Queen of Tentacles. The Queen of Tentacles is a nurturing generous card, but she can also be kind of greedy and materialistic. The ‘Fool' is not about that so they are having this philosophical argument and this is all way more than you need. I think the intro is actually longer than the actual song.
There are six songs from the new album and they hold up well scattered among the older favorite songs. "I Never Wear Black" was humorous and the most rocking song of the set. (Apparently, Barnes & Noble didn't have a sense of humor and banned the song from their playlist. They didn't like the words "virgins" and "bastards.") "Some of the new songs have a spiritual idea behind them. "Crack On The Wall" is about those moments when we get a glimpse or feeling of that spiritual world that's right behind us."
Ms. Vega gave fans her classics, "Luka," "Tom's Diner," "Calypso," "Blood Makes Noise,' and "Rosemary." The passion in Vega's live show has in no way diminished.
1. Fat Man & Dancing Girl
2. Marlene on the Wall
4. Fool's Complaint
5. Crack in the Wall
6. Jacob and the Angel
7. Small Blue Thing
9. In Liverpool
10. Left of Center
11. The Queen and the Soldier
12. Don't Uncork What You Can't Contain
13. Rock in This Pocket (Song of David)
14. I Never Wear White
15. Some Journey
17. Tom's Diner
19. Blood Makes Noise
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