06 July 2014 (released)
06 February 2014
“Thanks for standing in the pissing rain!” Paloma Faith called unceremoniously from the main stage at Calling Festival in Clapham.
“I wore my best outfit as I was coming darn sarf” she continued in her mock cockney voice.
Wearing an oversized white feather hat, elegant black beaded top, a flash of mid-rift and pvc pencil skirt, she looked immaculate and her vocals were flawless.
Telling the crowd it was a lifetime opportunity to be standing on the same stage as Stevie Wonder she rattled off a succession of finely crafted tunes. “Take Me”, “Only Love Can Hurt Like This” and “Picking Up the Pieces” were all greeted with a cheer.
With the whole stage black an white and her 11-piece band in tartan it was a joyful spectacle with some light hearted feminism to keep the crowd on their toes. ‘Men – what is your purpose?’ she quipped.
“Stevie played harmonica solo on this next one” she informed before launching into a cover of Prince’s “I Feel For You”.
It was becoming evident that Sunday at Calling was all about Stevie Wonder.
Jack Johnson took to the main stage next to deliver his chilled out acoustic fare which was all very pleasing to the ear: “Better When Were Together” & “Good People” included, it did however strike me as odd how high up the bill he was when. Before we knew it, the main event had arrived.
Without any fanfare, a rhythm started to break, soon it became clear that the song being nurtured was Marvin Gaye’s 'How Sweet It Is'. A slow build as Stevie Wonder walked on unaided, stage left.
Urging the crowd to “sing along for whichever lord you believe in!” the festival headliner stood in front of his keyboard and started to deliver the sermon according to Stevie Wonder.
As if on cue the sun broke through and the warmth of an early evening sunset beckoned.
'Masterblaster' and 'Higher Ground' came in quick succession and the gathered mass sang in unison.
Wearing red sunglasses, a dark blue t-shirt, white trousers and red Nike trainers (could they be branching into music sponsorship?) Stevie Wonder looked in fine fettle.
‘Ebony and Ivory’ was largely an acappella affair, with the crowd taking on the McCartney role and Stevie pronouncing “I love you Paul”.
'Park time lover' followed the same format with the band slowly rejoining the action.
'Signed, Sealed, Delivered' hit a high note prior to a hilarious conversational interlude with Stevie breaking into a very bad British accent.
"Most people think l’m Stevie Wonder but I’m not. I’m from Brixton. Don’t pre judge me! People say, 'Why don't you sing like Stevie Wonder? So I learnt his accent, and at the end of the show I’m gonna take all the money and he won't even see!”
A very welcome stand-up moment which Stevie returned to several times during the performance clearly relishing his new role.
In that vane he announced ‘Mon Cherrie Amore’ with “I'm gonna sing it just like Stevie but even better!”
“I Just Called To Say I Love You” had the crowd enjoying their sing-a-long role whilst Stevie entertained on his harpejji.
'It's always a painful thing when we lose someone in this industry, but each time we lose someone, we can say we are left with their musical history ... I want to give my condolences to his family and hope that he is in the best place spiritually. Please give a hand to Bobby Womack. We picked out a song we thought was appropriate.' The Bobby Womack cover ‘If You Think You're Lonely Now’ then followed.
Bon Jovi’s Richie Sambora accompanied Stevie on guitar for ‘Supersticious’ which closed a perfect Sunday evening at Clapham Common, confirming Stevie still has that special gift of being able to connect to his audience on almost every level.
A true musical great, and given his latest performance might well be found taking to the mic in a comedy club near you…
Stevie Wonder setlist
How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You) - (Marvin Gaye cover)
Master Blaster (Jammin')
Maybe Your Baby
Living for the City
Ebony and Ivory (Acapella)
Signed, Sealed, Delivered
You Are the Sunshine of My Life
My Cherie Amour
I Just Called to Say I Love You
As If You Read My Mind
If You Think You're Lonely Now (Bobby Womack cover)
Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow
Superstition (with Richie Sambora)