On October 25th, 2007 I drove to Montreal and saw a bona fide legend.
Stevie Wonder exudes musicality. He sweats, bleeds and breathes sonic purity. I’m sure when he blows his nose it sounds like a mournful harmonica shrill echoing through a back alley in Harlem. Since his days as Little Stevie Wonder through his remarkable funk, soul, and contemporary phases there has always been brilliance. Even his easy listening hits are pretty easy to listen to.
This was the only time a Stevie Wonder concert showed up on my radar; the first time we were ever geographically and chronologically synched, if a two-hour drive counts as synchronicity. I was shocked when I entered the Bell Centre and found ushers directing 300 level ticketholders like myself to better seats. It seems the show was dramatically undersold – I hope nobody told Stevie.
Surprised as I was, I was also equally pleased for the seat upgrade, and of course the show was great. Stevie Wonder might be old, but even Father Time can’t wear the talent out of a man like this. He thrilled the crowd with Higher Ground, Sir Duke, Isn’t She Lovely, Superstition, I mean, c’mon now. Stevie played some cover songs too, Michelle by The Beatles and a Prince tune, and he even sat in on the drum kit for a solo. Now, I’ve been to several shows where someone who is not known as a drummer sits behind the kit for a spell, and while it’s often a fun novelty it usually doesn’t manifest itself as a musical highlight (I’m looking at you, Trey), but when Stevie Wonder starts playing the drums you wonder why he ever did anything else. The funk…the feel…I’m telling you the guy could have been one of the world’s great trap players.
He may be old, overweight and looking kinda weird in his muumuu, and I’m sure if I had seen him back in the ’70’s it would have been just that much more mind-bendingly good, but as long as Stevie Wonder walks this Earth his music will live and be well and will continue to burst forth from his every pore, of that I’m quite confident.
Given a little geographic synchronicity I would unquestionably see him again.