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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Suzanne Vega:Live at Montreux 2004
Suzanne Vega:Live at Montreux 2004
Eagle Vision // Unrated // October 18, 2005
List Price: $14.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Holly E. Ordway | posted November 13, 2005 | E-mail the Author
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The movie

Suzanne Vega has only had a handful of solo albums in a twenty-year career, but they've all been solid ones. She came more into the limelight with Solitude Standing and its hits "Luka" and "Tom's Diner," but if those are all the Vega songs that you know, you've missed out on treats like those found on Nine Objects of Desire and 99.9 F. Vega's performance at the 2004 Montreux Jazz Festival provides a sampler of her work from beginning to end, in a venue with a fairly intimate feel. If you're not familiar with her work, it's a good way to get to know her music overall, and if you're already a fan of Suzanne Vega, this concert will be of interest in its blending of older and newer material, along with presenting her performance of some songs that are not from her own albums.

Suzanne Vega has a unique style, one that's not easily described. I tend to think of her in the same group as "folk rock" artists, but there's an edge to many of her songs that makes her music have its own distinctive character. In this concert, the focus is on her vocals and guitar, with the backing band supporting but not overpowering her. In her performance at Montreux, she handles all the songs very well, proving that her voice is as good as ever (or better). "Tom's Diner" doesn't come out as well as it could have (I think it's a song that's simply not well suited to live performance), but I was impressed by her powerful performance of one of my favorites, "Solitude Standing," along with excellent renditions of other great songs like "99.9 F," which she uses to open the concert, "Caramel," and "Calypso."

The performance runs an hour and 17 minutes, and is focused primarily on the music, with a total of eighteen songs (sixteen in the main program and two encores) in the main feature. Vega does speak to the audience a bit, giving some interesting background to many of the songs while never rambling on too much; she seems relaxed and to be enjoying herself. The concert footage is edited well, with a variety of shots and camera angle keeping the visuals interesting.

The song list is:

  • 99.9 F

  • Marlene on the Wall

  • Caramel

  • When Heroes Go Down

  • Gypsy

  • (I'll Never Be Your) Maggie May

  • Penitent

  • Solitaire

  • Left of Center

  • The Queen and the Soldier

  • Behind Blue Eyes

  • Solitude Standing

  • Blood Makes Noise

  • In Liverpool

  • Luka

  • Tom's Diner

  • Calypso

  • Have You Met Miss Jones



The DVD

Video

Suzanne Vega: Live at Montreux 2004 has been given a really excellent transfer: it's anamorphic widescreen, at the 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Despite the challenging lighting conditions, the image is clean and sharp; we get some grain in the whole-stage shots, but not that much, and the close-ups are extremely crisp and clear. Colors are hard to judge, given the use of colored lights on the set, but they look good overall.

Audio

The audio choices here are likewise excellent. The default is a PCM (non-lossy) stereo mix that offers a rich, full sound experience. I'd actually say that it's better than the second choice, a decent but not outstanding Dolby 5.1 mix. The best option, though, is the third one, an excellent DTS 5.1 track. The DTS offers good surround sound, a lovely rich texture, and crisper vocals than the other two options.

Extras

Three bonus songs are included, running a total of twelve minutes. These three songs ("Small Blue Thing," "Room off the Street," and "Knight Moves") come from a different concert, the 2000 Montreux festival at which she opened for another band. The video for these songs is a lower-quality 1.33:1 image with a fair amount of grain, but I'm pleased to report that the same three audio options are available, so you can listen to the bonus songs in their DTS glory.

Final thoughts

Suzanne Vega: Live at Montreux 2004 is a solid concert DVD that will appeal to both long-time fans of the singer, and those who have heard a few songs and want to get to know her music more. The excellent anamorphic widescreen transfer, coupled with a DTS soundtrack, makes for an overall very solid package. Recommended.

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