16 September 2007

Master Blasted Under the Stars Above

I see a lot of concerts every year, running the gamut of genres: indie bands, heroes from my New Wave days, favorites from my seventies youth. I’m easily impressed with and thrilled by a live show — but only a handful leave me dancing and singing and giggling for days. I experienced one of those live shows Friday night when I saw Stevie Wonder at Chastain Park Amphitheater.

I’ve stated that, next to post-punk and New Wave, R&B from the seventies is one of my favorite music genres. Al Green has always ridden at the crest of that wave for me … but he was unseated Friday night around 9:10. I’ve always loved Stevie Wonder, but his show left me with awe and adulation. My friends and I are still gushing about the show. It was, hands down, the best show I’ve seen all year — knocking Glenn Tilbrook’s January show and Wilco’s June show off the top of the 2007 list. In fact, this show may have been one of the five best I’ve seen in aughts.

I had a rough, stressful week — and struggled all day Friday to stave off the bad mood that wanted to take over my mind. I indulged a bit in the grumps — it was storming, we were going to an outdoor concert, and crap just kept hitting the fan. But I wasn’t going to give in. Stopping by Publix on the way to the show to get wine and munchines (our amphitheater is one of those wine-and-cheese joints), the store started playing Stevie’s “If You Really Loved Me” — and the nastiness in my mood evaporated. I loudly sang along, dancing with my cart up and down the aisles like we were in the “Soul Train” line. I was ready for Stevie.

We hit the amphitheater about an hour before the show, giving us time to carb up on pasta salad and hummus and cookies, marinating our dancing selves with red wine. We were ready for the show.

Stevie (led on stage by his daughter, Aisha Morris) opened the show by explaining he was touring in honor of his mother, who died in 2006. It was a lovely tribute to the woman who, as he explained, wasn’t going to let his blindness leave him blind to the world. He then sat at the piano and played “Love’s in Need of Love Today” — just Stevie and his piano. His band slipped on during the song, and kicked off one helluva great show. Two-plus hours of a show, without a break.

It’s hard to read the notes I wrote in the dark (yeah, I’m one of those nerds who jots down the setlist for the blog), but I think this is accurate:

Love's in Need of Love Today
Too High
Living in the City
Master Blaster (Jammin’)
Higher Ground
Golden Lady
Ribbon in the Sky (with India.Arie)
Can’t Imagine Love Without You
Don't You Worry 'bout a Thing
You and I
How Will I Know (with Aisha Morris)
Signed, Sealed, Delivered
Signed, Sealed, Delivered: The Country Version
My Cheri Amour
All I Do (Is Think About You)
Rocket Love
Sir Duke
I Wish
Boogie on Reggae Woman
Isn't She Lovely
You Are the Sunshine of My Life
Part-time Lover
I Just Called to Say I Love You
Another Star

Look at that setlist! Just about as perfect a set as you could wish for. Some huge hits, some great cuts from his best albums. I'll be listening to these MP3s all week long.

“Boogie on Reggae Woman” is one of my very favorite songs in the world — definitely one of the top twenty-five, definitely one of the top five seduce-me tunes. The joy of hearing it live, throwing out my arms and dancing with abandon under the stars above. But, really, every song felt that way. I’ve never been wild about “I Just Called to Say I Love You” — but hearing Stevie sing it to me changed its Cup rating.

One of the sweetest moments was during “Isn’t She Lovely,” which he wrote about Aisha when she was born. She sat on the piano bench with him as he sang, and my crowd teared up.

Stevie was chatty, funny, moving, political. And the crowd ate it up. I’ll never miss another Stevie Wonder show.

Stevie’s T-shirt has Braille on it (the yellow dots); how cool is that!

I’m still on a Wonder high, pretty much living in my Stevie T-shirt and listening to his MP3s all weekend. Do you blame me?

* * * * * *

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At 9/16/2007 09:43:00 PM, Blogger pistols at dawn said...

Stevie just put that Braille on the shirt so he could touch the boobs of his female fans and claim to be "reading."

If you'll excuse me, I'm going to go pretend to blind myself now.

At 9/16/2007 09:48:00 PM, Blogger Evil Genius said...

I would kill to hear Stevie do "Superstition" live. I am quite jealous.

At 9/16/2007 09:54:00 PM, Blogger Erik Donald France said...

Wow -- this sounds terrific. Great review -- I hope he comes to Motown with this set list. "Higher Ground" has got to be one of the greatest songs of all time -- among many others of Stevie's.

At 9/17/2007 12:52:00 AM, Blogger Mountjoy said...

I guess he ticked just about all the boxes, hey?

I am a little suprised he didn't do "Front Line" for the troops in Iraq.

Still, t'would have been a very worthy evening from the look of it.

At 9/17/2007 09:04:00 AM, Blogger Chris said...

Sounds like an unbelievable show and no, I don't blame you. He is one of those musicians that I put on a whole other level than most. He's genius. Lucky you!

At 9/17/2007 09:14:00 AM, Blogger Beth said...

PISTOLS AT DAWN: Why, Pistols, you made me blush!

EVIL GENIUS: You should be. It was beyond amazing.

ERIK DONALD FRANCE: Stevie’s been doing pretty much the same setlist on this tour, according to my Googling. A few different songs toward the end — but all the best in every show. Did you see him in Detroit?

MOUNTJOY: He definitely ticked all my boxes.

CHRIS: It was a very expensive ticket — and worth every damn penny.

At 9/17/2007 10:05:00 AM, Blogger Skylers Dad said...

Sounds like a wonderful concert! Glad you had a good time.

At 9/17/2007 10:15:00 AM, Blogger dguzman said...

WOW. I bow to your live-show-going prowess, man. What a show!

At 9/17/2007 10:46:00 AM, Blogger Michael K said...

The shirt makes me worry you'll be getting groped by a bunch of blind dudes.

At 9/17/2007 10:50:00 AM, Blogger Casey said...

That was a really good concert review!
Can't wait to see him my self!.
And when I saw ..."Golden Lady"...on the set. That song always spins in my head...long after I've heard the song. Not a hit...but so...70's...that it is a must!
Thanks for the great post!

At 9/17/2007 11:30:00 AM, Blogger Keith Kennedy said...

Stevie has more soul than most. Plus he's as cool as all the jazz boys together.

At 9/17/2007 11:36:00 AM, Blogger Malcolm: said...

Great post Beth! For me, Stevie is one of those artists whose music can put you in a good mood.

I like what you said about "I Just Called To Say I Love You". I don't know why, but it's something about hearing a mediocre song live that raises it a notch or two.

At 9/17/2007 12:57:00 PM, Blogger katrocket said...

I like Stevie's music, so it kinda made my day to discover he's still alive.

At 9/17/2007 01:07:00 PM, Blogger Moxie said...

Yesterday Joe the BF told me that a local karaoke DJ used to get all ferhoodled when he would sing "Boogie on Reggae Woman". I am going to have to listen to this song...

Last year a former coworker loaned me several Stevie CDs and I had a fun few days listening to everything. That man is really something else.

At 9/17/2007 01:55:00 PM, Blogger Blowing Shit Up With Gas said...

Admission: I don't own a single Stevie album. Which one should I start with?

At 9/17/2007 02:23:00 PM, Blogger DaBich said...

I love Superstition.

You lucky girl!

At 9/17/2007 03:31:00 PM, Blogger Barbara Bruederlin said...

I love the image of you singing loudly, dancing your shopping cart up and down the isles! Girl, you so know how to get ready for a concert!

Great shirt, and you totally rock it, but doesn't the braille make you just the weensiest bit nervous?

At 9/17/2007 05:31:00 PM, Blogger Frank Sirmarco said...

My mom had Innervisions on 8-Track when I was a lad, and I listened to Too High over and over and over.

I think it scared my mom a bit - it must have been a sense of foreshadowing.

At 9/17/2007 05:37:00 PM, Blogger Grant Miller said...

I could make many jokes about the Braille on your shirt.

But I won't.

At 9/17/2007 06:11:00 PM, Blogger Scott said...

Wow... I would love to see Stevie Wonder live...

At 9/17/2007 06:54:00 PM, Blogger BeckEye said...

Sounds like a cool show. Signed, Sealed, Delivered has always been my fave, but the country version? Never heard that. And I can't believe two of the last songs were Part Time Lover and I Just Called to Say I Love You. Those are two of the worst '80s products I've ever heard.

"It was, hands down, the best show I’ve seen all year — knocking Glenn Tilbrook’s January show and Wilco’s June show off the top of the 2007 list." -- Well, I think you can see now why Glenn chose me over you.

At 9/18/2007 06:46:00 AM, Blogger anandamide said...

wow, what a great set list. i think the last 25 years of mediocre or no work have made people forget stevie's genius.

At 9/18/2007 01:20:00 PM, Blogger Old Lady said...

I'm with Grant on this one. Got any left overs?

At 9/18/2007 01:40:00 PM, Blogger Mother Goldstein said...

I love your site as well as your passion for music and the arts... and what the hell I love your new t-shirt too (you look much better than I ever would).

Great post - once again you have inspired me to listen to my Stevie music... currently have "songs in the key of life" rolling on the iPOD as I write this.

sounds like an evening with Mr. Wonder is the perfect cure to a case of the "grumps".

Keep up the great work.

At 9/18/2007 08:03:00 PM, Blogger thirdworstpoetinthegalaxy said...

Can't help but note the placement of the braille... that CAN'T be a coincidence.

Still, sounds like the show helped get you out of a funk. Good music has a funny way of doing that.

At 9/18/2007 08:25:00 PM, Blogger Johnny Yen said...

What a great set list! A bunch of my favorites are on there. My Cherie Amor is one of my all-time favorites. Thanks for sharing this.

At 9/18/2007 09:53:00 PM, Blogger chelene said...

Wow, really great setlist. The only one missing that would have made it perfect in my mind is "As". I love, love, love that song but he did "Another Star" so that almost makes up for it. :)

Glad you had a good time!

At 9/18/2007 10:14:00 PM, Blogger jewgirl said...

What a perfect night. I love that his daughter was there. I adore India.arie. Kick ass set, sister. That would lift my spirits, too. Glad the grumps bailed.

At 9/19/2007 05:36:00 PM, Blogger Dale said...

I guess seeing is believing!

At 9/19/2007 06:27:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would have cried at "Golden Lady" Stevie rocks, you're SO lucky!! Gonna post some mp3's for us??

At 9/19/2007 11:27:00 PM, Blogger Artful Dodger said...

Again I am so jealous of all the awesome concerts that play in your neck of the woods. Sigh* Now I want a Stevie Wonder T-Shirt.


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