Suzanne Vega - Salford Lowry
Suzanne Vega is telling a story about her "most upbeat" song. It's called 'Tombstone'. The thing is, not only is it indeed upbeat, but the story that goes along with it is hilarious, and involves a dead family pet and a resultant viking burial instigated by her mother.
Tonight is all about stories - both between and within the songs, and a quarter of a century in the music business has left Vega the consumate storyteller and host. Between songs she debates with the audience what gender Salford is (it's unliterally decided to be male), explains why New York is a woman, but definitely not a lady, and talks about a Manucian ex-boyfriend ("My husband's in the audience - it's OK to sing about my ex's as long as I kill them before the end of the song").
Whether it's 'Frank & Ava''s story of Sinatra and Gardner, the story of her own first love, the domestic violence of 'Luka', or the still relevant dialogue between the 'Queen & the Soldier', it's her unique storytelling style of songwriting that singles her out.
Not that the music's lacking. Long term bass-player Mike Visceglia lends a serious groove to 'Left Of Centre' and 'Blook Makes Noise', and set closer 'Tom's Diner' gets a funky reworking. But it's Suzanne's voice that's the real standout, particularly on a langourous version of 'Caramel'.
Marlene On The Wall
Small Blue Thing
Frank & Ava
New York Is A Woman
Left Of Center
Blood Makes Noise
The Man Who Played God
The Queen & The Soldier
All photographs are copyright Mike Gray, and may not be used without permission.