Thursday, September 18, 2008

Stevie Wonder, Live in Concert

The Guardian has an interesting review of Wonder's recent London gig - by turns scathing, amused and impressed.

Here's a highlight, following the author's (gently mocking?) comments about Stevie's publicly pledged allegiance to Barack Obama:

But there is no ignoring the frisson of electricity running through black music in the US at the moment, and, specifically, through Stevie Wonder, long an activist, and now court musician to the Sun King-to-be. Buoyed by liberal America's Obama-mania, he is in expansive mode. Led onstage by Aisha, beat-boxing into a microphone, he takes up the harmonica, paying tribute to Miles Davis's 'All Blues', into which he manages to work in the melody from 'London Bridge Is Falling Down', charming everyone from the off.

When, finally, he mines his rich vein of peak-period hits in the final half hour, the aisles fill with the dancing figures of black, white, young and old. 'Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours' gives way to the irresistible lift of 'Sir Duke'. It's soon followed by 'Uptight (Everything's Alright)' and the peerless 'Superstition', played just like you remember them. Not for Wonder the endless rearranging indulged in by stars bored of their hits: he plays them all straight, if far too perfunctorily.

Bizarrely, he interrupts this magisterial flow to ask for a moment of silence for the victims of 9/11. As an afterthought, Wonder amends it to include all unnecessary deaths in all wars throughout history. There is no doubting his sincerity. But for all the energy coursing through Wonder, his two-hour show suffers from a lack of focus and unforgivably bad pacing. Can you be struck down by God for insinuating that Stevie Wonder lacks a sense of rhythm? I'm braced.

Dang. I'm trying to imagine - if I should ever have the good fortune to see Stevie live, and to review the show - whether I'd be able to maintain any semblance of professionalism or just gush my way through 800 words.

Actually, on second thought, I'd poke fun at 'Ribbon in the Sky', too.

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