Suzanne Vega @ Nottingham Royal Centre (02/07/04)

I love this venue and whilst I was excited about seeing Suzanne Vega, I didn't expect to be as impressed as I was.

She was amazing. I think this must go straight to number 2 in my favourite gigs of all time (Muse @ Nottingham Arena still holds the primary slot!)

We had some good seats, about 8 rows back in the stalls and bang in the middle. The sound quality was as good as I've heard (I'm ignoring the tiny bit of feedback which eminated from the bass player's amp when he left the stage for Suzanne to do a solo song - it was soon remedied at Suzanne's request)

The support (or 'warm up' act as he seemed to want to be called) was from a guy called 'Lach'. Weird name, I know. He was from "New Yorkcity". He was mildly entertaining, a sort of Buddy Holly on crack. I couldn't quite decide whether he wanted to be a singer/songwriter or a stand-up comedian. He was attempting both and perhaps as a result spreading himself a little too thinly. He was keen to establish some kind of rapore with the audience and tried (mainly in vain) for some crowd participation. Why do American artists seem to crave this so badly? Can you imagine the msucians of Radiohead encouraging the crowd to clap along to Paranoid Android??

Halfway through his set, some fool in the audience's mobile went off. It was a hilarious moment as Lach introduced his next song as 'Ode to a cell phone' or something similiar.

I'm sorry but it's rant time here. WHY, OH, WHY, CAN'T PEOPLE EITHER SWITCH THEM OFF OR NOT TAKE THEM AT ALL!!!? Do they feel that they might need to make an urgent call in the middle of the gig? I give up. Also, I know I'm a bit naughty with my taking photos at gigs, but the guy in the row in front took what must have been about 50 flash photography shots during the night. The artists were visibly not impressed. Neither was I. It's taking the complete Michael.

Anyway :)

Lach did finally win the audience over with a song called 'Former President Bush'. We all got quite excited about that and some of us even went as far as whooping! Anyway, nice idea Lach. He ended with a song (my favourite from his offerings) called 'Drinking beer with Mom'.

Lach wrapped it up and there was a short break and then Suzanne came on about 9pm. She was wearing a long-sleeved black top and some black combat pants which she kindly informed us were making their 'day-byoo'. She was accompanied by a drummer, an eccentric looking guitarist whose hair seemed to be rebelling against his head and a virtuosic bass-player.

They launched straight into 'Ninety-nine point nine farenheit degrees'. It was slower than the studio version and sounded brilliant, I was instantly assured this was going to be a priceless gig.

Sadly, the hall wasn't full. She really deserves to have more support but there we go - that's just my opinion. On completion of this opener, Suzanne greeted the audience and told of how that song title had proved to be a little baffling to those who heard it outside the US.

She then played 'Caramel'. Another fine song and reproduced with admirable accuracy.

Suzanne demonstrated her guitar skills on most numbers, choosing to play a big acoustic (with finger and thumb picks?). On some numbers, she put down her guitar and allowed the band to take care of business.

I know I've got the order wrong, and she played 2 or 3 songs I didn't recognise, but the rest of the set included:

99.9F degress
In Liverpool
Straight Lines
I'll never be your Maggie May
Marlene on the Wall
The Queen and the Soldier
Blood Makes Noise
Small Blue Thing
World Before Columbus
Heroes go Down
Tom's Diner

She played a few songs with just her and the bass player. Infact one was just the bass and her vocals which was both brave and very effective.

She spoke quite a lot in between songs and had a warming presence. I almost could have paid to listen to her "filler stories" alone.

She told us she'd been out with a guy from Liverpool which had inspired her to write amongst others, 'In Liverpool'.

She played two encores and received a standing ovation each time she left the stage.

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