SXSW Review: Suzanne Vega, Central Presbyterian Church, March,15

SXSW is no Montparnasse. Case in point: many of the people at SXSW, ourselves included at times. So it is refreshing to put up an intellectual Trojan horse, if only for an hour, amongst this bastion of commercialized revelry. And that’s what Suzanne Vega did at the Central Presbyterian.

With her newest effort, Tales From The Realm of the Queen of Pentacles, Vega is telling stories and reflections through her songs. Using hand gestures and body language to get her point across, her message was so smartly crafted that it’s hard to argue with. Either inspired by the setting or Vega’s perch in the pulpit wearing a magician’s hat, people around me actually seemed to be praying, appearing to be in deep thought during each song. It’s like she’s preaching from the lectern ala a professor about dress color, child abuse, war, people watching, amongst other intellectual pursuits.

It wasn’t a perfect concert – it was initially marred by sound issues, and then Vega herself ran into a vocal hiccup midway through a song. But her stage presence made it barely noticeable. She diffused the issues, taking time to introduce each number and set up the audience through humor. Predictably, she ended the set with “Luka” and “Tom’s Diner.” Since she is on tour promoting her new album, I would encourage y’all to go to a show. With class and style, it’s a world apart from what the current crop of artists represent.

Posted on by Gary in South By Southwest