Vienna Teng makes an enchanting return to Philadelphia at World Cafe Live
The lush and inviting soundscape of singer-songwriter Vienna Teng cascaded through a packed World Café Live in Philadelphia on Tuesday night. Playing in support of her recently released Aims, her first album in four years, Teng curated a night of comfort and sadness expertly interwoven with her sweet, yet direct vocals backed by her own keywork, Alex Wong’s multi-instrumental talents, and Jordan Hamlin’s guitar-picking.
Teng is certainly one of the more affable performers one can see, as was evidenced by her entrance for her main set. She began the show by asking the audience what solo song they wanted to here, a rare start to any concert. And to match this unusual, yet friendly request was her powerful performance of one of, if not the greatest of her songs – “The Tower.” After a rousing “Blue Caravan” she then dipped into her new album with the opening track “Level Up.” Even if it is not as familiar as her older work, it fit wonderfully into the set as did the rest of the song selections new and old. Other highlights included the beats of plastic cups on the lovely “Copenhagen (Let Me Go),” the powerful rock reflecting on the occupy movement found on “In the 99,” and the sounds of a rim of a wine glass and a waterphone that starkly rest against the glorious “The Breaking Light.”
Frequently speaking of her adoration for playing at World Café Live again, Teng enchanted the audience from start to finish, ending the main set with her biting and stirring “Grandmother Song.” And the finale, “Goodnight New York,” featuring Teng on guitar with Wong and Hamlin on harmonies at the front of the stage, was a serene and satisfying send-off. Now that she has achieved what led to her hiatus from her song craft – a master’s degree in sustainability, one can hope for more frequent musical interludes on the stereo and in concert in the future.