Gallery By Elizabeth Sharpe
Gallery By Elizabeth Sharpe
Gallery By Tracie Tee
Suzanne Vega and her full band take their places on The Tivoli stage on this chilly Brisbane Tuesday night. I’m used to supporting acts at shows, but there’s no time for that tonight as Vega and her crew have something truly special lined up for us – just like every show on this Australian stretch of her worldwide Anniversary Tour, they are performing 2 entire albums worth of her timeless songs. Solitude Standing and 99.F, in celebration of their 30th and 25th anniversaries respectively. With Gerry Leonard on guitar (also known for his work with David Bowie), Mike Visceglia on bass (Vega’s original bass player on the Solitude Standing album) and Yuval Lion on drums – I was told to leave my fan-girl pants at home, but man, I’m excited!
I knew what she was going to start with – Tom’s Diner, a cappella. Luckily, the audience tones down their excitement just a little too, and Vega is given that silence that is really needed for that unmistakable voice to fill the old Tivoli theatre. The way she projects her voice with restraint, with light and shade, the hushed tones, the quirky lyrics that some of us almost instinctively know by heart… Especially for the next song – Luka – truly captivating! I’m feeling honoured, seeing this played live by Vega herself, right before my eyes.
It must be said, the sound guys have hit the nail on the head from the get-go with this show and should be commended – it is absolutely remarkable how crystal clear it is – you can close your eyes and swear you’re listening to the record on surround sound speakers – this sound quality makes a massive difference to my experience and I’m 100% sure that the entire audience would agree. What else is remarkable is how much Vega’s voice has not changed one bit since Solitude Standing’s 1987 release.
After In The Eye, Vega introduces her next song as being about, in a way, wanting to save somebody – wanting to teach them how to see in the dark. Once the eerily beautiful Night Vision comes to a close, someone cheeky from the audience calls out “Side B!” Vega responds, “And now we’ve come to where, depending on your age, you may have had to turn the record over… or the cassette.” Confessing too, that there are plenty of albums that she’s never heard the Side B of.
I can’t stop watching her effortless fingerpicking whenever she plays that acoustic guitar – what a talent! Vega speaks of some of her influences; Unsurprisingly, Leonard Cohen… Bob Dylan… but for this next song, Wooden Horse (Casper Hauser’s Song) she was influenced byPeter Gabriel. THIS is one of the many reasons why I love getting out and seeing live music. I have heard this song so many times in my life, but with Vega’s witty banter, anecdotes and memories shared between songs, I’m now being introduced to it again like it’s brand new. I can suddenly hear the Gabriel-esk tribal-like, punchy drums and ambient guitar tones.
After a short intermission, we hear 99.9. Vega tells us how in between the making of these two quintessential albums, she met her biological father for the first time. Imparting these little pieces of knowledge along the way are really helping set the scene for me with each song.
It is obvious that Vega’s music and songwriting has touched so many – the audience has one of the most varied demographics I’ve ever seen at a show – the majority watch on, eyes glued, ears pricked – but I do catch some free-spirits at the back, swaying whimsically, hands weaving through the air, dancing along to even the most sullen of her tunes. Before long, Vega once again dons the iconic top hat and closes out the night with the full-band version of Tom’s Diner, and it’s like the crowd’s cue to dance and make the most of the few minutes we have left! This rendition of Suzanne Vega’s most popular track tops off the night perfectly and the crowd really shows their appreciation for the marathon performance.
If I had to pick just one word – Magical. This evening with Suzanne Vega and her band was just magical.
Review Contributed by Elizabeth Sharpe
A queue lined up along the block on the dark quiet Fortitude Valley street, with the orange neon sign, The Tivoli highlighting the bricked Brisbane venue. The real calm before the storm, where Aussie rock legend Ian Moss would take center stage on the first night of his national tour promoting his latest album self-titled Ian Moss. The Tivoli is a fitting timeless location with its Prohibition-era styling mixed in with signed framed posters of past acts both musical and comedic, adorning the walls reminding you of the high caliber talent that has graced the stage of this Brisbane icon. It is a versatile location, where each show can change their specific seating and standing arrangements. For this particular show, there was reserved seating on both the dance floor below and the balcony area above.
As the crowd grabbed their drinks from the three bars and checked out the Ian Moss merch, ragtime music filled the hazy atmosphere. It’s all very themed to the décor. Even when the 5-minute call came for showtime, some opted to stand to the sides and watch on instead of taking their seats. Eyes were drawn to the stage with silk-like curtains covering the back of stage lit in blue, instruments on stage ready to go.
House lights went down completely much to the delight of fans whooping, clapping and shouting out “Mossy”. Band members and backup singers headed onto the stage, followed by the man himself, Ian Moss. Jumping straight into his first song of the night, Cold In The Night, a bluesy number from his new album. The guitar riffs are clean and crisp, Moss’ vocals smooth. He followed with another new album track, Down Along The Track after which he took a breather and spoke about how great it was “to be back in this fabulous room.” The audience responding with love and chants of “Mossy”.
Moss then pulled off Out of the Fire, a track from the hit album Matchbook proving he’s still every bit the rock maestro. Hands and heads swayed along throughout the audience as yellow spotlights danced across the room. Then returned to his latest album, with another bluesy track, I’m Not Your Only Man. He changed guitars throughout, each with their own unique sound and played with such gusto and precision. He spoke little in between numbers, instead of letting his guitar and music do the talking. He gave each band member and backup singer moments in the spotlight throughout and praised their talent. It’s always fantastic to see rock legends sharing the stage with such talented people and acknowledging them with great respect.
Moss not only continued to play tracks from his new album such as My Suffering (yes that’s what the tour’s for and the tracks are proof Moss is in great form), he also revisited a few Cold Chisel numbers like My Baby. This resulted in many voices singing the words along with hands in the air holding cans waving around. Then performed Janelle and explained the story behind the song that Don Walker wrote. It was about Walker’s daughter whom he had only found out about on the phone while overseas and couldn’t see. The first act was then rounded out with Mr. Rain.
Intermission time gave a chance for all the usual housekeeping of getting more drinks and trips to the restrooms. Fans eagerly chatting away and sharing their love for the artist and for Cold Chisel. The curtains fell away in this time with a new black banner of “IAN MOSS” all in white bold caps across the back of the stage.
Returning to the stage, Moss opened the second act with a cover of Ray Charles’ Georgia On My Mind bringing his brand of guitar to the classic accompanied by his keyboardist. This lead into Choirgirl another Cold Chisel fan favorite, belted out by the audience, repeating back to Moss’ cues. He continued along the Cold Chisel bend, with One Long Day. This lead into introducing the first single off his new album, If Another Day (Love Rewards Its Own). As the night started to close out, he focused his attention on mega Matchbook hits Telephone Booth and Tucker’s Daughter as his explosive finale. The ecstatic audience demanded an encore. Moss delivered, not single, not double, but a triple encore giving his backers bang for their buck rounding out his stellar performance with Hold On (To What We Got), Broadway (about missing his family on the road) and Bow River.
Moss grabbed all his band and singers to join him in front of the stage to bow together as they received a standing ovation with cheers and “Mossy” chants. He told the audience that he looked forward to meeting everyone at the signing after the show. It was obvious that Moss thoroughly enjoyed himself on his first night of the nation-wide tour and so did the Tivoli! His next tour stop will be in Melbourne next weekend.
Review Contributed by Sarah Minazzo
Gallery By TRACIE TEE