Gig review: STEVIE WONDER – Calling Festival, Clapham Common, 29 June 2014

The Calling Festival continues its nomadic existence having moved from its previous home at Hyde Park to the Queen Elizabeth stadium last year and now at Clapham Common. It has also been reduced to two, one day festivals (Aerosmith headlined the night before). Tonight was the turn of a true living legend Stevie Wonder, who at 64 still has an amazing voice and can play a set lasting over two hours full of classic tunes.

Starting off with ‘How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)’, a prefect opening number on a lovely summer’s evening. Stevie Wonder was in fine voice. He did start to get a little ‘Songs Of Praise’ on the audience as he passionately spoke about his faith, luckily it was only for this opening number. 

Next up ‘Master Blaster (Jammin’)’, a real crowd pleaser and then the funk classic ‘Higher Ground’ – covered by the Red Hot Chilli Peppers and Thunder (who appeared the previous evening on the Aerosmith bill) amongst others.

His backing band and vocalists were top draw musicians and they played a very tight set considering that Stevie Wonder doesn’t play that many concerts. The three percussionists in particular impressed with their skills and natural rhythmic feel. Full credit to the organisers as the sound, apart from one little glitch later in the set, was spot on.

Stevie Wonder showed his humorous side as he pulled off a spot on English accent and pretended to be someone impersonating Stevie Wonder and ‘singing them better than Stevie would’. He had a neat line in self-depreciating jokes too; is there no end to this man’s talents?

The set had a sad edge to the evening with two songs dedicated to the passing of legendary songwriter Gerry Goffin, with ‘Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow’ (made famous by Carole King) and Bobby Womack, who Stevie Wonder said the song they chose was a fitting tribute, namely ‘If You Think You’re Happy Now’.

‘Ebony And Ivory’ ( a massive UK hit with Paul McCartney) is not one of his better songs in my book, however it got the crowd joining in with gusto and, along with ‘I Just Called To Say I Love You’, had the biggest audience choir of the evening.

The set closed with a blistering run through ’Superstitious’ and that man Richie Sambora popped up again to help out, having been at Glastonbury earlier in the day guesting again with Dolly Parton.

A fantastic closing number to one of the best live concerts I have seen in a very long time. The term legend does get overused in the music industry at times, however for someone like Stevie Wonder it is deserving and if you ever get the opportunity to see him live do so as you won’t regret it.

Review by Jason Ritchie

How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You)/ Master Blaster (Jammin’)/ Higher Ground/ Part-Time Lover/ Maybe Your Baby/ Living for the City / Ebony and Ivory/ Sir Duke/ I Wish/ Signed, Sealed, Delivered/ You Are the Sunshine of My Life/ My Cherie Amour/ I Just Called to Say I Love You/As/ If You Think You’re Happy Now/ Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow/ Superstition (with Richie Sambora)

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Featured Albums w/c 6 July (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 MANDOKI SOULMATES Living In The Gap (Red Rock Production/Cleopatra)
12:00-13:00 MAGNUS KARLSSON’S FREE FALL – We Are The Night (Frontiers)
14:00-16:00 BEN REEL The Nashville Calling (B.Reel Records)

Power Plays w/c 6 July (Mon-Fri)

ZENITH MOON Gypsy (Golden Robot Records)
RARITY Leave It Alone (New Damage Records)
THE RISING I Want You (indie)
MANDOKI SOULMATES Young Rebels (Red Rock Production/Cleopatra)
LA GUNS Well Oiled Machine (Golden Robot Records)

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