On Monday we travelled back to Manchester after a weekend visit to our son. Arriving at Piccadilly Station, Phil and I parted company; he headed for the tram to continue the journey homewards with the suitcase while I went off to meet our very grown up granddaughter. She works in Manchester and we had agreed to go to a Suzanne Vega concert together that evening. I had very efficiently remembered to take the tickets with me.
So I zigzagged my way across the city centre to an approximate meeting point. We checked up every so often by text message to find out where the other was on the journey. Finally we did that thing where you actually speak on the phone, a conversation that goes through variations of "Where exactly are you?" until the moment where you simultaneously say, "Oh! I can see you now!"
We ummed and ahed about where to go for a bite to eat before the concert, ending up with tapas at La Viña on Deansgate. Then, finding that we were nowhere near a convenient tram stop and that neither of us had any idea where to catch the much vaunted free shuttle bus across central Manchester, we set off to walk to the venue, the Royal Northern College of Music. It's a nice venue, not too big, far preferable to the huge, anonymous concert arenas with their huge screens so that the poor souls at the back can see what happening onstage.
The first time I saw Suzanne Vega live was, I think, at the Lowry Theatre in Salford umpteen years ago. There the start of the concert was delayed - well, stopped and then restarted - because someone had had the bright idea to make it all look very atmospheric with a smoke machine ... which gave the singer an asthma attack. She had to leave the stage to find her inhaler! Not an auspicious beginning!
A couple of years ago my granddaughter and I saw her at the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester. My granddaughter remembers somebody calling her a young whippersnapper on that occasion. Neither of us can remember what provoked the name-calling!
Anyway, on Monday evening we walked to the venue, discovered that we still had a while to wait
until the start of the concert and sat and chatted about this and that, interspersed with Tas quietly singing bits of Paul Simon songs and then getting embarrased when a lady sitting next to us began nodding along to the songs. Eventually we went in, listened to a rather ordinary support act and watched a good 50% of the audience go out during the interval only to return with plastic glasses charged with drinks of various kinds. Is it not possible to sit through a concert without refreshments? And how do they not need to go out again to the loo? Well, in fact some did!
It was a good concert: some very old songs, some less old songs, some more recent songs and some brand new songs. And a fair amount of good humoured advertising for the new album out on Friday of this week. Afterwards, as we were near the back of the concert hall and so were able to get out quite quickly and join the queue with only about five people in front of us, we waited around to buy a collection of songs and have it signed by Suzanne Vega. Tas has a collection of signed albums by a range of artists she has seen with my brother-in-law who has been taking her to concerts since she was quite small. I have never stopped to chat to an artist before. There is a first time for everything and it's never too late to start! Even for a bus-pass carrying pensioner!
I "follow" Suzanne Vega on Facebook. (There's an odd expression: following someone on Facebook.) And yesterday I gave in to the temptation to comment on a photo of one of her appearances during this tour. You know the kind of thing: "lovely concert in Manchester!" This morning my Facebook notifications told me that Suzanne Vega had "liked" my comment. Another first!
How very nice!
Of course, she undoubtedly employs someone to monitor her Facebook page for her, putting on photos of the singer in the park with her dog, and probably "liking" every single comment from every single "follower". But it's a pleasing bit of attention to detail!