This was a double bill, no doubt about it. No one was an “opener” for the other. Singer-songwriters Marc Cohn and Suzanne Vega have both had hits in the past, and they both have had ongoing music careers that have stretched from the 1980s til today.
What everyone in attendance at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall witnessed or felt that night was that this was a unique magical and emotional event. There were no full bands wailing behind the featured artists; in each case, there was only the singer-performer and one other multi-instrumentalist adding musical flavor to the mix.
Vega started things off with a wide spectrum of songs from her recorded repertoire, including the hits “Luka,” “Tom’s Diner” and “Marlene On The Wall,” all from her 1985 debut album, as well as her brand new indie release “Close-Up, Vol 1, Love Songs,” the latter a re-recorded reworking of “songs of attraction, flirtation and confrontation written over the years.”
Vega’s magnificent voice clearly and gently soared throughout the acoustically magnificent Music Hall. Her long-time collaborator Gerry Leonard added tasteful sonic washes and background sound-colors, painting a delicate and lovely tapestry in support of Vega’s voice.
After the intermission, Cohn started his set off from the piano and later took up the acoustic guitar to sing a dozen or so of his greatest hits including his Grammy-winning “Walking in Memphis.” It was a captivating performance, with electric guitarist Shane Fontayne (Lone Justice, Sting) adding just the right sonic accents to each song.
Cohn, with a smile wider than the stage, completed his set with an encore of soon-to-be released songs mined from 1969, more or less. Saying that these tunes are from the future Great American songbook, Cohn put his own unique spin on classic ditties by, among others, John Fogerty.
All in all, this double bill was a delight.
Review and photos by Andrzej Pilarczyk.