Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Live In Concert: Stevie Wonder 7/1/08

Seeing Stevie Wonder is a dream come true. No doubt. The show could have been better though. As it was, it was only as good as I was afraid it would be.

I’m big on momentum at shows. It needs to build and keep pace. Prince is the unsurpassed master of this. The Shins are the all-time worst. You can banter with the crowd, you can play new stuff, you can even skip some songs you should have played, as long as you’re taking the audience on a ride. I saw Depeche Mode once and they had none. Weird song selection and at weird times. The show had no flow. I left wanting to be their road manager. Stevie was sort of like that, unfortunately. That’s what I mean by as good as I was afraid it would be. Some artists, you know going in, have a penchant for long solos, meandering pace, and large chunks of songs that mean nothing all in a row. The worst I ever saw like this was Lou Reed. I heard he performed mostly with his back to the audience and never talked. He delivered as promised. One of the bands I saw that I was most afraid would do sort of what Stevie did was Hall & Oates and they actually killed it. Great show. Great relief.

Stevie is such a lovable, almost divine creature, you’re willing to forgive him anything. You know from the Grammy speeches and Eddie Murphy jokes that he’s going to talk a lot and not all of it is going to hit, but that’s part of the persona. My problem is that when classic songs are buried in between the long interludes and vocal histrionics, they lose some of their impact. Stevie is one of music’s greatest geniuses. Let that fly! It also takes the crowd out of the show, which can be deadly and hard to recapture.

His MO seemed at first to do new song, old song, back and forth. Some classics he played in slightly trimmed down versions, which was a pretty good idea. Allowed him to pack more in without leaving much out. We got “Higher Ground” in fairly early on, as well as “Living For The City”. In fact, we got most of the Innervisions album.

A highlight was when he sang “Isn’t She Lovely”. His daughter is one of his backup singers and she was standing next too him while he was singing and he was getting choked up. I can relate because that was the song I had playing when Georgia was born. After the song was over, he said “Let me tell you something. Any problems you have with any of your family members, you gotta let that sh*t go.” Sounds crass, but it was actually really sweet.

The last half hour is when it finally kicked into gear fully. It started with “Superstition”, then “My Cherie Amour”, "Signed, Sealed, Delivered", “Sir Duke”, “I Wish”, and “You Are The Sunshine of My Life”. That’s when everyone was finally able to release what had been building up all night. So, it finally became the show you wanted it to be all along. Chance of a lifetime.

Funny story. I went to the show with my good friend Chuck and his parents. I used to refer to Chuck jokingly as my token black friend, but he’s one of my best friends and token sounds too small now. Anyway, his folks are so sweet and funny, it made the night even better. However, they are both very short. So, we’re sitting on the grass in the back of the amphitheater just at the edge of a path that cuts through the whole grassy area. Chuck and I are concerned that his mom won’t be able to see since people on the other side of the path will be at our same eye level and standing too, plus traffic will be walking along that path all night. So, the show starts and all these people stop on the path right in front of us and set up shop for the night after we’ve been sitting there for hours. I thought security would put a stop to that, but they didn't. Chuck and I are upset. So, I go over and stand directly in front of them. They start complaining that I’m blocking their view, but I say they’ve been blocking ours and we’ve been there for hours while they just show up and stand where there aren’t even seats. Some of the people get upset and we’re yelling at each other, and then I look down and I see Chuck going nose to nipple (he’s short, the guy was tall) with one of the guys ready to brawl! So, who comes over and pulls Chuck away from the guy? HIS MOM! Little 4’11 Dorothy Piper pulls her son away from the guy before anything goes down. Classic beyond classic! And, in true Swingers fashion, we ended up hanging out with the guys the rest of the night. A couple of them were pretty cool.


C-Pipes said...

Nose to nipple huh???

It was about to go down my friend. I was about to get all bloods and crips on his ass.

P.S. My mom says thanks for the extra inch

Farrah said...

Too funny. I guess this is the story i missed last night when I got angry about you not replacing the toilet paper roll, huh?

RR said...

a great story made better in the telling. now i want to hang out with chuck and his parents. how do i make that happen?

AnnieB said...

Great concert wrap-up. Great story.
I posted about Owen's seven stitches... check it out. So sad!