Stevie Wonder Wembley Arena 6th September 1980
There was a massive buzz around Stevie Wonder’s first performances in Britain since 1974. Tickets for the six night “Hotter Than July Music Picnic” run of concerts at Wembley Arena were sold by postal application, and were massively over-subscribed. We were lucky enough to score tickets in the fourth row of the front block, giving us a great view of Wonder and his band.
The stars turned out in force for the show. As we took our seats we noticed Kate Bush sitting two rows behind us with a group of friends. We also noticed Goodie Bill Oddie in the front row.
Stevie began the first set with a run through some of his ’60s hits, starting with “For Once In My Life”. From a NME review of the time, written by Paul Du Noyer: “…there’s Stevie Wonder up there, the best soul voice this side of Smokey and he’s giving us ‘My Cherie Amour’ and ‘Signed Sealed Delivered’ and ‘If You Really Love Me’ and, oh, you really should have been there because it was a tremendous thing to hear.”
The show was in two sections, full of classic Motown, most of the “Innervisions” album, and those tremendous Wonder songs like “Living for the City” and “Higher Ground”. There were moments where it really just couldn’t have been any better, and others where Wonder got the crowd to singalong to the songs, almost spoiling them. “…those hoary old call-and-response sequences: ‘Now I want all you fellas to sing this part… and the ladies sing this part…’…..just a pointless pantomime” (Paul Du Noyer, NNME).
After the interval Wonder re-appeared as the young “Little Stevie Wonder”, dressed in a cute red velvet suit and bow-tie and proceeded to play an amazing version of “Fingertips”; complete with note-perfect mouth harp. Then it was back to classics: “You Are The Sunshine Of My Life” and an amazing “Superstition” which stunned everyone. The new songs of the evening were “Happy Birthday” in honour of Martin Luther King, and the single “Masterblaster” (more singalong, but still great). A breath-taking performance.
The following evening, which was last of the six night run, just before the very last song Stevie said “I’d like to bring on a couple of guests” and on walked Marvin Gaye and Diana Ross to sing along with him. Now I wish I’d been there that night.
Setlist. Set 1. For Once In My Life; My Cherie Amour; Signed Sealed Delivered; If You Really Love Me; Golden Lady; Boogie On Reggae Woman; Living For The City; Higher Ground; Don’t You Worry ’bout a Thing.
Set 2. Fingertips; Sir Duke; You Are The Sunshine Of My Life; Superstition; Visions; You and I; Secret Life Of Plants; Happy Birthday; Masterblaster Jammin’ ; Did I Hear You Say You Love Me
Glastonbury Festival Pilton Farm 25-27 June 2010
So we (me, Marie, Laura, David) decided to sample the delights of a modern festival. It’s 30 years since I last when to 3 day festival and stayed for all 3 days (Reading 1980), so I was quite excited about this. We travelled down on Wed and arrived Wed night. Thursday was spent exploring the massive site and on the evening we sampled Nik Turner’s Space Ritual and Curved Air (who we hardly saw as the tent in which they were playing was completely packed). Highlights were singing along to Rolf Harris who opened the Pyramid stage on Friday, Gorillaz, Muse who were just awesome on Saturday, and Ray Davies and Stevie Wonder on Sunday who turned out all the hits for us. We all had a great weekend; the festival is so big we gave up on the idea of trying to see all of the bands that we had planned and just enjoyed the event; which was great.
Stevie Wonder Manchester Arena September 9 2008
Its been 28 years since I last saw Stevie Wonder at Wembley Arena, and I was really looking forward to seeing him again. Laura and I took the train to Manchester to see the great man in concert at the vast Manchester Evening News Arena. We arrived at the arena in time to have a good look at the merchandise. Laura was delighted to discover that the t-shirts had braille on them and she bought a “Isn’t She Lovely” t-shirt and a key-ring which also had braille on it. I was a little disappointed that there were no programmes (apparently they hadn’t been printed in time for the early dates and will be joining the tour later).
Our seats were on the floor; half way back. Two rows in front of us was sat Ian Brown who was looking as cool as ever and sporting a great Motorhead t-shirt. Laura was well chuffed when I spotted Ian! Stevie came on playing some great bluesy harmonica ; first song I recognised was Master Blaster (Jammin). Everyone was on their feet from the start; lots of shouting; a great roaring reception; a lot of people had waited a long time for this.
The set was a mixture of hits and less well know songs. I would guess I knew around half of the songs. Lots of singing along, with Stevie getting the men and women to sing different parts a couple of times. Perhaps a little too much singing along; and not enough hits; but actually it was OK; balance was probably about right on reflection. He was backed by a great 14 piece band including his daughter as one of the singers (she also got a solo).
The guy sitting next to Laura was really into in it, dancing and singing all the time (he knew absolutely all of the words from every song). There were a few occassions where everyone sat down; this guy refused to; even when someone behind him asked him to and then threatened him; thought they were going to fight! The guy behind got a steward who had a word with them both and managed to calm the situation.
As we go towards the end we got more hits: Signed, Sealed, Delivered and Superstition were great. I was a little disappointed that he didn’t do For Once in My Life which is my favourite; but hey you can’t have everything every time. Laura and I agreed that it was a great show from a legend!
Setlist included : Master Blaster All I Do Knocks Me Off My Feet Higher Ground Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing Visions Livin’ for the City Golden Lady Isn’t She Lovely My Cheri Amour Signed, Sealed, Delivered Sir Duke I Wish Do I Do I Just Called to Say I Love You Superstition As