Stevie Wonder: Songs In the Key of Late
I reviewed the Stevie Wonder Songs In The Key of Life gig at MSG gig last November (here) from my perch on top of the Arena, but I loved it fine and was happy to see him. So when my friend John Duffin invited me to see the set again, at Prudential Center in New Jersey last night, at seats substantially better than last time, I jumped at the chance. Not only would I get to catch up with a good friend, I’d also get to see a great set one final time with Stevie claiming he would never perform the album live on stage in the US again. Plus, a busman’s holiday, no reason to write about it any more so I don’t need to think so hard, I would simply enjoy the set.
However, there is a reason I decided to write about it and here it is. The show was meant to start at 8pm and I figured it would be over by eleven, I could leave at 1050p and grab a train from Newark to the city. A Wednesday evening, you know: that’s the definition of midweek. What I didn’t expect was Stevie to start performing at 843pm, sing for an hour and take a 30 minute break. I ended up seeing 90 minutes of a 150 minute concert. There was no way I could stay later, I am half asleep now as it is.
I guess I was not alone, John himself would leave before he end to catch his train to Philadelphia, and the audience was somewhat older as well: who can hang around till midnight? We hadn’t spent the day snoozing like Stevie did, we were tired raising money to go to the show to start with. Why the hell would Stevie not be prompt? Rock stars must forget how much goodwill they lose when they act up like this, it is disrespectful. There is no excuse for this. It is not good enough to ignore the needs of an audience that ponied up $200 for great seats when the artist shows up very late. I can see the stage fine, I appreciate it, but who cares when there is nothing on the stage. I can’t see the damn show for no reason whatsoever. Why should I spend half a concert talking to my friend because there is no one on stage (we could go to a bar and catch up if we wanted to). Why did an artist of Wonder’s stature keep people waiting so long in the middle of Newark, on a week day? It is inexcusable and unprofessional. When you buy a seat to the theatre you expect the show to begin close to the printed time, it should be the same with a very expensive concert ticket.
What I saw of the set was excellent. The full orchestra, a violin section to die for, a huge horn section, guest performers (I saw Ed Sheeran duet with Wonder on a fine “Pastime Paradise”), a full blooded real people making real music sound. There was a top notch “Love’s In Need Of Love Today”, a joyful and too short “Sir Duke” and the single greatest live musical moment of any Stevie show ever, the harp coda to “Isn’t She Lovely?”. The set also included the single worst moment of any Stevie show ever, the overly long request for music lessons in Public Schools, “I Wish”.
All well and good and if he had come on at 810p, and taken a 20 minute break, I’d have seen the vast majority of the show and been fine with it. You’d think, right? John, tells me he left at 1105pm, a true fan got screwed out of that Wonder medley at the end! For no reason at all.
1. Love’s in Need of Love Today
2. Have a Talk With God
3. Village Ghetto Land
5. Sir Duke
6. I Wish
7. Knocks Me Off My Feet
8. Pastime Paradise (With Ed Sheeran)
9. Summer Soft
10. Ordinary Pain
12. Ebony Eyes
13. Isn’t She Lovely
14. Joy Inside My Tears
15. Black Man
16. All Day Sucker
17. Easy Goin’ Evening (My Mama’s Call)
18. Ngiculela – Es Una Historia – I Am Singing
19. If It’s Magic
21. Another Star
22. Can’t feel my face
23. Do I Do
24. Medly: Overjoyed, My Cherie Amore, Signed Sealed Delivered I Just Called to Say I Love You
25. Superstition (With Ed Sheeran)