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Arts and Entertainment

Suzanne Vega @ The Hotel Cafe - 6/5/07

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I am sitting
In my office
There are yuppies
Who are yelling

I am looking
At my speaker
I am raising up
The volume

And I'm pouring
Over paperwork
And thinking of Hawaii

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When I feel
Big brother watching me
And so I take a call

Dut dut dut dah
Dut dut-dut dah
Dut dut dut dah
Dut dut-dut dah

Oh this post it will continue
With a review of the concert
It was flawless and engaging...
...I am thinking of her voice

KCRW presented Suzanne Vega at the Hotel Café Tuesday night, and though the event lacked a host and she was forced to do her own introduction, the skinny minnie songstress -- in a black-on-black, dress-on-pants ensemble -- was the consummate professional and as alluring as ever.

Accompanied by keyboards, guitar, bass and drums, Vega and her paradoxical voice (how can a tone so flawlessly even, and emotionless, be both warm and cool, and also sexy) played a thirteen song set including tracks from her new record Beauty & Crime (Blue Note) and selects from her catalog.

With an easy and dry stage banter, she took us on a tour of the new album with Anniversary, Pornoghrapher's Dream, and New York Is A Woman standing out in the new material. Her register of past achievements included A Brazilian, breathy, Caramel, and a stark and stunning Left of Center. However, In Liverpool, was the clear highlight of the show, with a picking intro like a ticking clock, and a chorus of exploding light.

Dressed up with woodblocks and surf riffs, or stripped down to just her voice and a bass, the Vega sound is unwavering. It conveys that intangible, ubiquitous feeling, regardless of how you vary the arrangement. She is a solid force of unshakable songwriting, with a dead on delivery like a slightly deviant lullaby. Her music is a personal romance.

Her first mainstream hit, Luka, which earlier she told us would signify the near end of the show, was a crowd pleaser -- if a song about domestic abuse can really count as such. And a long, trancelike, spaced-out version of Tom’s Diner (which apparently is at 112th and Broadway) was remarkably captivating live, yet still it tops my list of ‘most unlikely hits’ that I struggle to explain. I think people have a fascination with the mundane. Or they just can’t resist phonetic syllables. It’s a toss up.

Apologetically, she confessed to having no songs about Los Angeles because she’s still not sure if LA is a man or a woman. A kindly patron yelled suggestions of “trannie” and “hermaphrodite,” however if that is truly the case, I doubt it would help to clear up her gender issues regarding our city.

SV and crew will be back in the fall to bewitch the El Rey. Be there.

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Photos by Lisa Brenner
Setlist and Video by otterfreak via Flickr