Suzanne Vega (Photo: Ken Abrams)

Back in the mid-1980s, when the idea of acoustic guitar-based music on commercial radio was about as far-fetched as, well, the idea of acoustic guitar-based music on commercial radio today, Suzanne Vega emerged.

The singer-songwriter of classics “Luka,” “Tom’s Diner,” and “Marlene on the Wall,” returned to Newport Sunday, April 16, for a charming and intimate night of music, her first time in town since the 2017 Newport Folk Festival. Before a sell-out crowd, Vega played her hits along with a few new songs in a stripped-down format, accompanied only by guitar great Gerry Leonard, who lent ample support to Vega’s acoustic guitar and vocals.

When she hit the scene in 1985, Vega was a hip, offbeat, slightly mysterious singer, somewhat distant in her delivery and definitely “left of center” in her overall approach. She broke out of the NYC folk scene, and released her dazzling eponymous album in 1985, which included “Marlene on the Wall,” a song that got played in regular rotation on MTV.

Her stage pressure is endearing in concert, and Vega engages her audience from the show’s start. Billed as “An Evening with Suzanne Vega,” the singer shared stories behind many of her songs, including more than one around her song “Gypsy,” perhaps the greatest campfire song ever written.

The show included pristine versions of the above-mentioned songs and a few new ones, including the moving “Last Train From Mariupol,” a tune she wrote to show support for Ukraine. She was near-perfect on early classics like “Caramel,” “Solitude Standing,” “Some Journey” and set closers “Luka” and “Tom’s Diner.”

Check out some photos of the show below from WUN contributor Jack Casey.

More From What'sUpNewp

What’s Up Today: Friday, June 2

What’s Up This Weekend | Utility: New retail experience that celebrates the chef and the host opening in Middletown | Centreville Bank opens new branch on Thames Street in Newport
Keep reading


Something went wrong. Please refresh the page and/or try again.