Iconic superstar Stevie Wonder made a rare appearance in Saint Louis Sunday at Scottrade Center and brought with him an impressive stage show that was as electric as it was uplifting.
Coming out onstage at 8:30 Wonder talked for several minutes about how much he has wanted to come to Saint Louis since the Ferguson riots from last year, and how he wanted to promote peace, understanding and love. He also later called for an end to racial tension asking people to “come together as one”.
Wonder dedicated the show to two brothers who were in attendance even though their mother had just passed away the night before. He later brought the two brothers onstage as he sang “As” with them standing next to him. It was a very emotional moment for all three, and the emotion was felt throughout the building as well.
In town on the latter leg of his highly successful Songs in the Key of Life Tour (in which he plays his signature album in its entirety) Wonder easily, and gracefully, flowed through the songs with emotion, soul and style that easily was infectious with those in attendance. The album itself runs nearly 90 minutes, so it is easy to see how Wonder could turn this show into a 3 ½ hour extravaganza.
Throughout the night Wonder walked, by himself, from the middle of the stage to stage right from one piano to another. In fact, he performed quite a bit in that area playing harmonica (including a soulful rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner”).
Wonder took time between many songs to reminisce about old school teachers and friends, funny experiences and joking with his six incredibly talented backup singers. There was one point in the show where Wonder had a contest with each one in a pitch/singing contest. “No fair!” Wonder cried as all six ganged up against the icon. Wonder then showcased each one individually, highlighting their talents.
Wonder, in fact, had a huge ensemble on stage with him. At one point there were over 30 musicians behind him including 2 drummers, 2 percussionists, a horn section (whom he called “Filthy McNasty” and the “funkiest musicians around”), the six backup singers and a small orchestra from Saint Louis.
After “Another Star” Wonder toyed with the idea of ending the show to tease the crowd before guzzling a bottle of water to “transform” himself into DJ Tick Tock Boom. The first song out of the gate on his transformation was “Hot in Herre” to which Saint Louis native Nelly came out (Nelly was only 7 the last time Wonder came to Saint Louis in July 1982 as a part of SummerJam ’82).
Not wanting to go into overtime (city ordinances prohibit concerts from going past midnight, lest a hefty fine be levied) Wonder cut out “Higher Ground” from the setlist. Hopefully it won’t be another 33 years before he returns so he can perform it again here.
Even though Wonder is 65 his voice is in prime shape; strong, resilient, tender and powerful. His concert was full of life. After Sunday’s performance many in the crowd felt the same way.
Stevie Wonder Setlist:
Love’s in Need of Love Today
Have a Talk With God
Village Ghetto Land
Knocks Me Off My Feet
Hold On (En Vogue cover)
Isn’t She Lovely
Joy Inside My Tears
All Day Sucker
Easy Goin’ Evening (My Mama’s Call)
The Star Spangled Banner (traditional cover, instrumental on harmonica)
Ngiculela – Es Una Historia – I am Singing
Overjoyed/Yesterday/People Get Ready (the Beatles/the Impressions’ cover, instrumental on harpejji)
If It’s Magic
Hot in Herre (Nelly cover, sung by Nelly)
Children’s Story (Slick Rick cover)
Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now (McFadden & Whitehead cover)
Do I Do