A SHORT SUZANNE VEGA CONCERT FILMED IN ROME IN 2003 HAS JUST BEEN RELEASED ON A SEMI-OFFICIAL DVD.
The title SOLITUDE STANDING turns out to be something of a misnomer, the set list featuring only three songs from the New York songwriter’s biggest selling album – singles GYPSY, LUKA and TOM’S DINER – with the new release clearly named to vacuum any residue of interest from the 25th anniversary of the album in 2012. However, even in semi-official capacity the DVD provides Vega fans with some genuine incentive to buy.
A spoken-word introduction to nostalgic 1992 single IN LIVERPOOL is spine-tingling, and MARLENE ON THE WALL, as ever, reaches in to tweak some wistful feeling or other. Highlights of this particular show, though, are the stripped-out LEFT OF CENTER (accompanied only by stalwart Mike Visceglia on bass), the majestic version of THE QUEEN AND THE SOLDIER (probably Vega’s most traditional folk song in terms of rhyme and meter) and her story before PENITENT. She reveals that she’d been booked to play a concert in a church, and that the song was written following a soundcheck which had been watched by a group of highly disapproving nuns.
Italian singer-songwriter Valerio Piccolo (who also interviews her as a brief extra feature on the DVD) joins Vega onstage for her hour-long set, translating the handful of poems she recites from 1999 book THE PASSIONATE EYE – which means that this DVD stands as unique amongst her discography by being the only release (to date) to feature performances of ITALY IN SPRING, ANTI-HERO and HOW TO MAKE A POEM. For those alone, or as a nicely filmed time capsule from the almost ‘lost’ period when Vega was between recording contracts a decade or so ago, this is worth a look. Her latest album, TALES FROM THE REALM OF THE QUEEN OF PENTACLES, was issued in February and reviewed here.