SXSW Music 2010
Reviewed by Jim Caligiuri, Fri., March 26, 2010
Suzanne VegaSt. David's Historic Sanctuary, Wednesday, March 17
The hour was late, but given a gorgeous venue and the ability to draw from a substantial songbook, Suzanne Vega was in high spirits. Appearing with a hat and lace veil combination that didn't last long, one of New York's most exalted singer-songwriters, acoustic guitar in hand, launched into the haunting "Marlene on the Wall" backed by an electric guitar and bass duo. Lamentably, the electric instruments overwhelmed Vega's husky vocals at times, especially on the odd groove "Tombstone." Vega took chances with her material, performing "Left of Center" backed by only a slinky bass line that veered into distortion. She spotlighted the recently released Close-Up: Vol. 1, Love Songs, new acoustic recordings of some best-loved tunes, with "Small Blue Thing" and "Caramel" and in a somber moment dedicated "The Man Who Played God" to the recently deceased Mark Linkous (Sparklehorse). A song they wrote together, it possessed a distinctive pop feel that separated it from her other work. Finishing with the expected hits, "Luka," still a disturbing vision of child abuse, and the dance-along "Tom's Diner," Vega brought the church crowd cheerfully to its feet.