Fri, Jan 13, 2012 - Page 14 News List

Music: Close up and personal

By David Chen  /  Staff Reporter

Suzanne Vega performs in Taipei on Monday.

Photo courtesy of Yukuang Music

Suzanne Vega will be in Taipei on Monday to perform at the Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall (國父紀念館). For many Taiwanese fans of the 52-year-old American singer-songwriter, the concert is a first-time chance to hear her perform live.

Those who grew up listening to the radio in the 1980s and 1990s ought to recognize Vega’s famously cool and gentle voice.

Her most well-known and perhaps most catchy song, Luka, from the 1987 album Solitude Standing, dealt with an improbable topic for a pop single, child abuse. Its chart-topping success also oversaw a new chapter in the American pop scene, in which female contemporary folk artists like Tracy Chapman and Indigo Girls started to receive mainstream recognition.

An even more unusual song from Solitude, Tom’s Diner, which Vega sung a capella, became an international hit several years later after a pair of British DJs remixed it with an electronica groove.

After that, Vega disappeared from mainstream view, but continued to produce critically acclaimed records such as 99.9F (1992), Songs in Red and Gray (2001) and Beauty and Crime (2007).

Vega’s latest project is a retrospective series of four albums titled Close Up, in which she has gone back and re-recorded her back catalogue. Her recasting of past material has resulted in simpler arrangements, which include new treatments of Luka and Tom’s Diner. Many songs feature Vega accompanied only by an acoustic guitar.

Her audience on Monday can expect the pared-down, intimate feel of the first two volumes of Close Up (Vol. 1 is subtitled Love Songs; Vol. 2 is People and Places). And just as well: Vega’s lyrics, which have often been praised for their sharp observations and keen narrative style, deserve to be heard plain and clear.

Performance notes

What: Suzanne Vega live in concert

When: Monday at 7:30pm

Where: Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall (國父紀念館), 505, Renai Rd Sec. 4, Taipei City (台北市仁愛路四段505號)

Admission: Tickets are from NT$1,600 to NT$4,000, available through ERA ticketing and online at

On the Net:

Vega will be backed by guitarist Gerry Leonard.

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