Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Stevie Wonder, Shoreline Amphitheatre, Mountain View, 7/5/08

Stevie Wonder Hotter Than July album cover
Stevie’s back on the road, and I was there last Saturday, at the Shoreline, this time with four others. As he did last year, he’s billing these shows as “A Wonder Summer’s Night” and he’s playing straight through the evening with no opening act. Huge band, lots of percussion, and this time he even brought his 6 year old son Kailand to play a little bit of drums towards the end of the evening. The kid was probably the only person in the entire venue who didn’t have a huge grin on his face. Did he not want to be there? Does he take drumming that seriously? Does he not like Stevie’s music? Was he mad at his dad? Who knows… the rest of us were very happy to be there.

Casually strolling out in the early evening light with daughter and backing vocalist Asiha Morris guiding him to his perch, Stevie opened the show with some positive remarks about Barack Obama and, when he got the band started, four songs in a row off Hotter Than July. Talk about digging deep! “As If You Read My Mind” and “Did I Hear You Say You Love Me?” were two of the songs I least expected to hear, and like most of the night’s performances, they were note perfect. Even with this four pack, Innervisions was still the best represented album of the night, with five songs (“Visions,” “Living For the City,” “Golden Lady,” “Higher Ground” and “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing”).

The talk box came out again, as it did last year, after some fun call and response with the audience. This time he only used it for one fun cover tune – the Stylistics’ “People Make the World Go Round,” and it was a pretty complete version too.

Biggest surprise of the evening: a full performance, with band member solo spots, of Chick Corea’s “Spain” (as heard on the second Return to Forever album, Light as a Feather). [Though Lee Hildebrand's piece for the San Francisco Chronicle identified this tune as Joaquin Rodrigo's "Concierto de Aranjuez," in reality, Hildebrand only identified the intro to "Spain," which Corea lifted from Rodrigo's piece. The rest of the tune is Corea's].

Songs missed: would have been nice to hear something off A Time 2 Love. He actually announced “So What the Fuss” at the end of the night, but played “Superstition” instead and called it an evening. Not a bad trade-off, but still.

Most polite audience moment: the crowd actually hushed to listen to Aisha sing a jazzy rendition of “I’m Gonna Laugh You Out of My Life,” and good thing – she wasn’t always easy to hear. Good singing voice, definitely has her dad’s genes.

Most welcome diversion from the hits: we were treated to a new song called “Keep Fooling Yourself Baby Girl,” from the forthcoming album Through the Eyes of Wonder. There’s nothing like hearing a legend who refuses to rest on his laurels. Even though it wasn’t the most memorable tune (can’t remember the melody for the life of me), it certainly sounded catchy at the time and was modeled in classic Stevie fashion. Can’t wait to hear the rest of the album!

Most annoying abbreviation of a song: Stevie performed acceptably abbreviated versions of “Isn’t She Lovely” (I wonder if Aisha ever gets sick of hearing this song?) and “I Just Called to Say I Love You” (1 verse and two choruses do just fine), but when he stopped the band after his harmonica solo during “For Once in My Life” and declared “that’s enough of that,” man, that was nothing short of mean!

Bottom line: the man is still 100% dynamite, a national treasure. Go see him! If everybody could experience Stevie Wonder live, the makers of Prozac would surely go out of business.

Set list:

As If You Read My Mind
Master Blaster (Jammin’)
Did I Hear You Say You Love Me?
All I Do
Knocks Me Off My Feet
Audience jam/People Make The World Go Round
Higher Ground
Don’t You Worry ‘Bout A Thing
Living For The City
Golden Lady
Keep Fooling Yourself Baby Girl
I’m Gonna Laugh You Out Of My Life (Aisha Morris)
Isn’t She Lovely (2 verses)
Ribbon In The Sky
My Cherie Amour
Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I’m Yours
Sir Duke
I Wish
Do I Do
I Just Called To Say I Love You (1 verse, two choruses)
For Once In My Life (stopped after harmonica solo)
Uptight (Everything’s Alright)


Anonymous said...

Awesome concert. Thanks for the company, and for handling all the logistics.

My co-worker who went to this show also saw Stevie at the Hollywood Bowl on this tour; there, he had a full orchestra, and his older son sang with him on Ribbon in the Sky.

Anonymous said...

Good report, Ive got to see him in concert.