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:
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.
Love's in Need of Love Today
Living in the City
Master Blaster (Jammin’)
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)
Boogie on Reggae Woman
Isn't She Lovely
You Are the Sunshine of My Life
I Just Called to Say I Love You
“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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