I'm sure that even though you were tired, this was a night to remember.. I'd love to hear Ruby's part in the show myself, but I guess I should wish for something more realistic, like winning the lottery
I notice Luka isn't on your setlist... although I'm sure it was right there before Tom's Diner. I can't think of a show since 1986 where Luka didn't feature.
The Fool's Tableau
"What token do you bring?"
popped up onscreen
as I pondered what this could mean
Quit my job, left folks behind
for undecided heart and mind -
not what I'd hoped or dreamed to find
Our eyes locked in a frozen stare
how much more could a poor heart bear
as the cards were laid within her lair
The tarot tableau soon was made
and sure enough the Fool was played
I knew Fool well and yet I stayed
As I watched in frozen fear
in hopes a diamond would appear
instead I saw the Chariot near
As I pondered what we moved towards
there appeared the Three of Swords
to cut Fool heart and remaining cords
Forced to flee for very life
from one I hoped would be my wife
Come now Judgment - end my strife
Copyright June 1, 2010
First, I must apologize - details are foggy here because unfortunately I was pretty exhausted when I attended the show -- (a lot of 12 hour days leading up and a long night/morning chatting sessionwith friends after my own little karaoke show finished on Friday night into Saturday morn circa 5 am, then back to work till 5 PM, on to dinner with wife and on to Suzanne's Show with wife wanting to eat again after show and then off to sleep...)
The concert started slightly late (maybe 10 minutes tops) -- there were a lot of people drifting in at the last minute for whatever reasons and that might be the primary reason for the late start. It was an older crowd - I'd guess the larger share of the attendees to be in their 50s, but saw a few younger people who were perhaps in their 30s.
The band personnel on hand were Suzanne, Ruby on backup vocals (and played piano on a couple of her own compositions - more on that to come...) and Gerry Leonard on electric guitar. Phil was still the sound man and I think it was Mark (sp?) who was serving as her Roadie, tuning the guitars, etc.
I can't give an exact set list and I apologize for that, but here are the songs I can recall Suzanne performed - not in perfect chronological order...
"Marlene On The Wall" - complete with Top Hat! Viva La Top Hat! Particularly nice job on fills and solos by Gerry.
"Frank And Ava"
"Language" - Suzanne mentioning she had re-learned the song while celebrating the 25th anniversary of the "Solitude Standing" album.
"When Heroes Go Down" - Rocked! Very nice job. Probably my favorite song on the "99.9" album.
"Left of Center" -- no piano on this - all piano licks supplied by Gerry. I was kind of hoping maybe Ruby would be playing the Joe Jackson piano part here - would have been very cool - but who knows maybe we'll see that someday down the road! Suzanne revealing that she wrote this song for herself as well as the lead character in "Pretty In Pink"
The ever popular "Gypsy" with Suzanne relating the background story about the young man she met while teaching folk music and disco dancing at summer camp.
"Calypso" -- lovely song, delivered without any background story, but I'd guess that most of the folksat the concert had read Homer's "Odyssey" at some point in life...
"In Liverpool" with additional background on how she was reading "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" in the rather gritty town of Liverpool and thinking about the boy with the bump upon the head she used to know.
"Some Journey" - one of my absolute favorites of Suzanne's works -- she's never revealed who this one was written for to my knowledge. (My own pet theory is Jack Hardy due to certain phrases in this work that I also find in Jack's beautiful song "St. Claire" - I'm thinking the cross pollinization would arise from thinking about Jack while writing it in a subliminal kind of way, but hey what do I know?)
I confess to being a tad disappointed on the "tightness" of the guitar interplay between Gerry and Suzanne. Gerry is doing a LOT here trying to add in some bass notes with the pedals and playing a lot of fills and somehow it just didn't seem as rhythmically precise as it should have been - this was the first stop on the current tour and I'm sure it will improve.
"Tombstone" - complete with the Viking Cat Funeral story...
"The Man Who Played God" -- Suzanne's collaboration with Sparklehorse and Danger Mouse celebrating the creative energies of Pablo Picasso in all it's "Beatlesqueness". (or whatever adjective you might choose to describe such a thing as "Beatles-like")
"Blood Makes Noise" - with Suzanne adding that the song is basically describing an anxiety attack while waiting in a doctor's waiting room - Gerry's guitar providing plenty of dissonant, anxiety provoking kind of Arnold Schoenberg 12 tonish things to ratchet up the mood (all this gibberish boiling down to my way of saying nice job here Gerry!) NOT my favorite song in Suzanne's repertoire, but still a work of high artistic integrity and it was done very well.
"Tom's Diner" - again with Top Hat and lots of dancing by Suzanne
"Queen and the Soldier" - seemed a tad faster than I'm used to hearing it -- but lovely, and painfully poignant as always.
The crowd called Suzanne back for an encore and I apologize that I can't recall exactly the order of the songs above, I think one of them was in the encore, but what really grabbed my attention was the NEW SUZANNE VEGA SONG!
I believe it was called "Crack In the Wall" and the song basically described an experience of seeing through a crack in the wall into the "other side" or afterlife if you prefer that term. This makes a lot of sense with Suzanne losing so many friends in the last year or so and of course the loss of her brother Tim which still weighs heavily on her heart. (She's mentioned dreams where he comes and talks to her.) I apologize that I can't do justice to providing the lyrics of her new work. Some of it concerned begging three times to be allowed to see more...
As I listened I couldn't help but think of a poem that my grandfather had engraved on my grandmother's grave when she passed. I think I posted about that on Facebook to her once. I'll include it at the end of this post.
Now we come to the subject of Ruby. Many of you have a pretty good idea of Ruby's vocal qualities from buying other recordings in the Close Up series. For those who haven't heard Ruby yet I'd say she has a bit of a heavier quality to her voice than Suzanne - more of a classically trained kind of tone with more chest voice and less head voice - but that's just my own impression. (On a personal level Ruby is a delight - friendly, personable, outgoing.) She's a very poised young woman for being on her first big concert tour. She often has to wait for extended periods of time before she gets the chance to sing a few notes and unfortunately she doesn't have much to do in the meantime... I mentioned to Suzanne that I thought it would be great to give Ruby a tambourine to play on Tom's Diner (guess my normal filters were inoperative due to being tired, etc.) and after thinking about it maybe even some maracas or some other traditional latin instrument on Caramel would be awesome as well...
Mid-concert the audience was delighted to hear Ruby play and sing two of her own compostions - the first one was inspired by a book Ruby had read by Phillip Roth! (Can you say "chip off the old block" reading Phillip Roth at age 18? Not that there's anything "old" or "blocky" about Suzanne...)
I believe it was called "Right Here" and it seemed to be a love song to a young man. The piano accompaniment of the song, I'd describe as "jazzy" perhaps even sort of like something from a musical, with the tune itself being quite melodic.
The second composition was entitled "Brilliance" and it also seemed to have a bit of a jazz flavor, but used more dissonance in the piano accompaniment. Ruby is her own person with her own artistic vision that is quite a bit different from Suzanne's, but her songs were very well received.
Oh yeah, the poem for those who might be interested...
Rose Beyond the Wall
by A.L. Frink
A rose once grew
where all could see,
a garden wall,
And as the days passed
it spread its branches, straight and tall...
One day, a beam of light
a crevice that had
opened wide ~
The rose bent gently
toward its warmth
then passed beyond
to the other side
Now, you who deeply
feel its loss,
be comforted ~ the rose blooms there ~
its beauty even greater now,
God's own loving care.
Recently posted on both DIME and HungerCity is a very, very rare audience recording of the 1979 Lou Reed show Suzanne has spoken of for many years as the first rock concert she ever attended -- and the show she credits with transforming her as a songwriter, and (directly or indirectly) influencing such songs a "Cracking" and "Luka".
Now you too can hear what Suzanne heard (albeit perhaps not in quite the same quality) on that September evening 33 years ago.]]>
Remarking on her first performance on January 2, 1976, she said, "I played for half an hour at the Pit coffeehouse on 86th Street and West End Avenue. It was a church basement, and some of my friends from school came down."
She continued, "I felt really nervous, and I sang really loudly because I was afraid no one would hear me." She stated that she tried to talk between songs, but was so nervous that she mostly giggled.
However, I've long wondered whether that date is actually correct…
While researching for the "Suzanne Vega Timeline" (no longer posted on the official site, but still available, albeit now seven years out of date, through the Internet Wayback Machine), I found no reference to any 1976 show, but there was an archived show announcement from the New York Times, listing a 7 PM "Folk Concert by Seth Dean and Suzanne Vega" at "The Pit Coffeehouse", 263 West 89th St in New York City — on 2 January 1977.
Is this simply a coincidence -- a return performance on the same date the following year, or an error in the official record?
Whether this show was Suzanne's first or the first anniversary of her first, she faced stiff competition that evening, as many of her potential fans may have had to rush out early to catch Barry Manilow at 51st & Broadway an hour later.]]>
If you want to send anything on Undertow Facebook Page, feel free of course.
There's just a point about the new song.
To be honest, I have a perfect live recording of "Crack in the wall" -the new song- for months, and I have asked to myself if I'd post it or not. I don't know if Suzanne would appreciate to see her work circulating like that before it is released.
I really don't want to talk for her (maybe she doesn't mind, maybe not...), but I refused to myself to do it for that reason.
To tell you my life, I'm a musician too, and few years ago, I've had the bad surprise to find one of my album in free downloading on a Russian website 8 days before it was released. I was furious, not because of the loss of money or things like that (I don't care about those financial things in music...), but just because people who would download that wouldn't have the complete thing but just a bad mp3 folder...]]>
And to develop what you say (yes, I've done psychology studies when I was in University ), such a present is the mark of something like " I appreciate you", that drive us to the constant search of our lives: to be loved. And to be "loved" by someone you "love" is the final goal of the search.
More, to be "loved" by someone you "love" but who is not supposed to even know your name cause you're a part of a worldwide mountain of "lovers" is more exceptional...
Wow… reading your words really sent shivers down my spine! What can I say but "I'm so envious"?
There is an Israeli singer I really like called Aya Korem, who is a real sweetheart with her fans. A long time ago I asked her on Twitter, before one of her many shows I went to, what it would take for her to sing one of her old songs, which is a favorite of mine, but she didn't reply. I thought that was her way of declining my request, but lo and behold, halfway through the show she said something like "There's a nice guy named Yuval who asked for this next song" and she started singing the song (it's a folk tune called "Autobiography" and it tells the story of a young girl in the late 60's in California). She got a little mixed up with the lyrics, having not sung it in quite a lot of time, but I helped her out Someone was wise enough to capture the song on video:
This is of course nowhere near your experience, which I hope to have myself one of these days, but it's something.
By the way, I see Aya on stage a lot more than I see Suzanne, obviously, but going to shows when you're a hardcore fan never gets tiring, even if it's night after night. There's something about the magic of the music and its meaning to you, on top of the sensation of being in a crowd of fans and seeing the subject of your admiration right there on stage in front of you… Is there a psychology major in the crowd to explain this better?
This is my email: