Friday, January 25, 2008

Suzy Bega Bega

I adore Suzanne Vega. She's my number one girl. I've loved her since I was little and my dad bought her Solitude Standing (on cassette, it was, at first) and I sang along to Luka. As I progressed, we continued to collect her albums, and as I got older I continued to collect them myself, even as my dad was diverted by other things.

I'd had the chance to see her twice in the past: once for free on the Boston Commons, along with my ex-roommate Amanda and our friend Heather; and once in Portland, along with my Dad and friend Cristina. Both times were amazing - the shows were excellent, and we were able to get up close both times. In Boston, she was greeting the fans and signing autographs. My young twentysomething friends and I waited in line to see her, thinking to buy the newest album; but when we got up front, they weren't selling it and we were at a loss for words, starstruck by this smart, beautiful, cool woman. We muttered our embarrassed thanks and left. "What am I supposed to say, thanks for getting me through high school??" Amanda wailed. Indeed. How geeky is that? In Portland, we were seated in the third or fourth row, center, of the beautiful old Aladdin Theater. It was intimate and lovely, and my dad later proclaimed it to be the best show ever, trumping his then-favorite Shawn Colvin. At both shows she sang the lovely "Rosemary", which isn't on any of her studio albums but does, it seems, appear on her retrospective disc.

So when I heard she was coming to Tokyo to support her new album, Beauty and Crime, I definitely wanted to go. Even though it was a work night, and even though I'd have to take time off, I was determined. I got my shifts rearranged and left work two hours before the show was to start, driving to the train station and getting set to hop on the first express into the heart of Tokyo.


Except there were all these announcements, and all this bustling, and all these train station employees walking around looking concerned and important, and all of these people NOT riding on trains.

And after I had already gone through the turnstiles and realized something was wrong, I set my ears to "decipher" and figured out that there had been a 人身事故、a "jinshin jiko", an "accident involving human life", which is the official party line euphemism for "someone splattered their guts all over the front of a speeding train, ruining some poor sap driver's day".

Yeah. So no trains were moving. Just then, my phone buzzed. I. was stuck at Ichigao. Clearly, we weren't going anywhere by rail. I ran back to the car, jumped in, zipped down to Ichigao to pick up Mr. I.L., and we raced into Tokyo to swishy Yurakucho, parking at 7:30 in the garage, about half an hour late so far. Running around trying to find the show, we finally located the International Forum, and after several confused minutes, our seats.

Ms. V was halfway through "Gypsy" when we walked in, and did a few more acoustic songs.
Her band came on and enthusiastically made some noise, performing several of the new songs. Unfortunately, I felt like the sound was a little too much, overpowering her lovely voice. I've seen her play when they get it really right, and it was a little off. However, when she sang the slower songs and did acoustic ballads, the simplicity of the form let the gorgeous music and lyrics shine.

The show lasted for another hour, including two encores.

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