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Suzanne Vega At City Winery, Saturday, November 27th, 2021, Reviewed

“Luka”

I’ve been following Suzanne Vega since her outstanding self-titled debut album.  Her perceptive songwriting is complemented by her idiosyncratic guitar playing and distinctive vibrato-less voice.  She and my wife are fellow Barnard College grads.  Her show at City Winery, the second of two nights of her New York Songs and Story tour, also showed her to be an accomplished raconteur.

Vega started her show accompanied by long time collaborator and guitarist Jerry Leonard.  At various times she was also joined by her daughter Ruby Froom on backing vocals, a bassist, and a keyboard player.  She started off the set with mostly earlier songs, which as she explained, is what people really want to hear.  Once she had us, some newer material came into play, and it stood up well in comparison. 

Vega’s voice combined with her crystalline fingerpicking, complemented by Leonard’s subtle lead work, is very effective.  Her storytelling is warm and engaging.  One standout was the fierce newer song “I Never Wear White”.  She also treated us to a cover of Blondie’s “Dreaming” as the first encore. 

A word about the venue- the old City Winery on Varick street was one of my favorite places to see music – small, with a warm club-like vibe, but unlike most clubs you could sit!  And eat!  Good food!  And as the name implied, a great selection of wines.  When Disney bought the whole block and forced a move, I was concerned that something would be lost at the new location on the pier at 15th Street. Fortunately my fears were unfounded.  The same warm vibe is there in a gorgeous new room with a higher ceiling and better sight lines. 

Set List

 1. Marlena on the Wall

2. Freeze Tag

3. Caramel

4. Gypsy

5. In Liverpool

6.The Queen and the Soldier

7. Frank and Ava (about Sinatra and Gardner)

8. New York is my Destination (from her Carson McCullers musical)

9. New York is a Woman

10. Left of Center

11. I Never Wear White

12. Some Journey

13. Luka

14. Tom’s Diner

Encore

15. Dreaming (Blondie cover)

16. Tombstone

17. Carson’s Last Supper

18. Rosemary

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