by Russell Handy, Music-News.com
Cockney and Irish accents aren’t the first things you associate with Stevie Wonder.
Somewhere at the bottom of the multi-instrumentalist’s list of talents is a pretty impressive London lilt.
It pops up throughout Wonder’s near four-hour set for BST in Hyde Park and offers some comic relief in such trying times, to which he refers to.
No fanfare greets Wonder’s entrance on stage. Just a no-nonsense arrival and a few sombre words on the state of the world are all that precede opener Love’s In Need Of Love Today.
Awarded a medal of freedom by US president Barack Obama in 2014, the star’s simple message is love over hate.
It’s not until Contusion and Sir Duke that the few remaining picnic blankets are packed away in this crowd of 60,000 revellers.
With a mid-set interval of almost half an hour, divisions soon open up between Wonder’s core fans and those less familiar with tonight’s set.
Hearing Wonder’s 1976 Grammy-winning album Songs From The Key of Life performed live in its entirety should be a joy. Instead, parts of the crowd sadly lose interest, striking up their own sing-alongs.
But aided by an incredible backing band, Wonder steers a steady ship and Isn’t She Lovely, along with Easy Goin’ Evening (My Mama’s Call), is the 66-year-old at his harmonica-playing best.
Stratospheric talent surrounds him, ranging from the vocal cords of Wonder’s daughter Aisha Morris to the fingertips of bassist Nate Watts.
In a year of growing political turmoil and countless celebrity deaths, Wonder’s set lifts the spirits. The passing of Prince this year is not forgotten.
But rather than simply cover hits by the Minneapolis innovator – as so many have done in recent months – Wonder instead chooses to become alter ego “DJ Tick-Tick-Boom” to drop Kiss and When Doves Cry.
He’s soon back on the ivories to end the night with a trio of hits from his substantial canon. Part-Time Lover quickly develops into Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours which becomes, to the delight of all, Superstition.
The set list:
- Love's in Need of Love Today
- Have a Talk With God
- Village Ghetto Land
- Sir Duke
- I Wish
- Knocks Me Off My Feet
- Pastime Paradise
- Summer Soft
- Ordinary Pain
- Ebony Eyes
- Isn't She Lovely
- Joy Inside My Tears
- Black Man
- The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face (Backup singer featured)
- Summertime (Backup singer featured)
- Besame Mucho (Backup singer featured)
- At Last (Backup singer featured)
- Ooo Baby Baby (Backup singer featured)
- Ngiculela - Es Una Historia - I Am Singing
- The Letter
- If It's Magic
- All Day Sucker
- Easy Goin’ Evening (My Mama’s Call)
- People Get Ready
- Another Star
- DJ Tick Tick Boom set
- When Doves Cry
- Part-Time Lover
- Signed, Sealed Delivered