Thursday, November 29, 2007

Lovin' Stevie

Stevie Wonder reminded fans why love conquers all.
He did it from his opening monologue about how his late mother's spirit told him "Nothing can separate us, not even death," to him performing two hours' worth of music about love.

Few artists can walk onstage and begin their concert by chatting with the audience, but that's exactly how Stevie Wonder started his show at Bobcats Arena on Wednesday. With his daughter Aisha Morris (no longer the baby cooing on "Isn't She Lovely") holding his arm, Wonder talked about losing his mother, Lula Mae Hardaway. An image of his mother flashed on the video screens.

It was one of many stories he told during an unforgettable performance, in which he couldn't possibly play every song fans wanted to hear. But he performed a bunch of them. I was most excited to hear "Superstition," "As" and "All I Do." Oh wait, and "Love's In Need of Love Today." Ugh, there were so many.

The biggest flaw in the performance was that his band didn't include horns. On songs, such as "Superstition," the keyboard's synthesized horns don't punch you in the chest the way the real instruments do on the album.

Surrounded by a seven-piece band and three backup singers, including Morris, Wonder made thousands of people feel like one family. His concert drew parents with children, couples, young adults with their parents and friends of all ages and ethnicities. Some were dressed in their Sunday best, matching suits with hats, and others were casual.

He played his harmonica and piano. At one point, he stood up on the piano bench to sing. He bantered with the audience throughout the night, and took a couple of swipes at the South. Before singing a countrified version of "Signed, Sealed, Delivered," he told fans that he expected them to like country music. At the end of the show, he thanked fans who skipped Bible study to come out to the concert. (I guess he heard ticket sales were slow here.)

As usual, he was political. He talked about current issues and lamented the war in Iraq and the lack of affordable healthcare. Addressing these problems were part of his message about the healing power of love. It was a message he delivered through his music.