Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1093

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Stevie Wonder's Song Party: Barclaycard BST Festival, Hyde Park, London 8/7/19

Steve Wonder's Song Party: Barclaycard BST Festival, Hyde Park, London 8/7/19
Steve Wonder's Song Party: Barclaycard BST Festival, Hyde Park, London 8/7/19 Steve Wonder's Song Party: Barclaycard BST Festival, Hyde Park, London 8/7/19 Steve Wonder's Song Party: Barclaycard BST Festival, Hyde Park, London 8/7/19 Steve Wonder's Song Party LOGO: Barclaycard BST Festival, Hyde Park, London 8/7/19

You may probably have read by now that Stevie told the world from the Hyde Park stage that he is going to have a kidney transplant in September. On the back of that news, this was quite an extraordinary show by perhaps the biggest star the soul world has ever produced.

"As If You Read My Mind" and "Master Blaster" from the "Hotter Than July" album opened the Hyde Park show and then a funky as hell "Higher Ground".

More classic songs flowed, masquerading as what seems normal for Stevie. "Living For the City", "My Cherie Amour", "Signed Sealed Delivered" and "You Are The Sunshine of My Life".

"For Once In my Life" saw him play his famous harmonica solo, to the delight of the many who regard him as the finest player in the world. "Sir Duke" has one of the best brass riffs ever and led into "I Wish" which has one of the best grooves ever.

Stevie does Latin par excellence with "Don't You Worry ‘Bout A Thing" and "Do I Do" which was perhaps the track of the night. He brought on two special guests to duet, Corinne Bailey Rae, who had performed earlier in the day, and Daley.

Billed as ‘Stevie Wonder's Song Party', this was a show with a twist.. and that was a DJ! The DJ was spinning tunes during the setup and stayed as part of the set-up for Stevie's set. This meant Stevie was able to take a ten-minute break mid-set whilst the DJ played a medley to the crowd to sing along to from Michael Jackson, Prince, David Bowie, Amy Winehouse and Aretha Franklin.

Stevie Wonder is known for his love of music technology. His championing of a new instrument, the harpejji (a cross between a guitar and piano) was introduced to the UK at Clapham Common in 2014. Stevie's now a master of this instrument and he developed a magical ten-minute jam, joined by percussion, bass and DJ. He then gave a memorable rendition of John Lennon's "Imagine" using the harpejji.

"Superstition" closed the show and then came his bombshell of an announcement. "I'm going to have a kidney transplant, at the end of September this year. I'm all good. I have a donor, it's all good!" Stevie calmly gave this announcement with poise and dignity. From Stevie, you would expect nothing less.

The show wasn't perfect, there were initially some sound issues with the vocal mix and at some points, Stevie seemed disoriented and stumbled over a few lyrics, hardly surprising considering his medical circumstances.

Any flaws quickly vanished into oblivion when put against the many moments of genius. In the words of Stevie's billing for this show, it's all about "Love, Life, Music."

PHOTOS: CHAZ BROOKS
Words CHAZ BROOKS

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