Saturday, September 15, 2012
Outsidelands, SF: Stevie Wonder
And so a dream came true...from hearing the maniacal cackle of the intro of "Don't You Worry 'Bout A Thing" breaking through the static on an overcast morning from a N.Y. FM station sixty miles away as a seven year old, to this moment in a field near the Pacific Ocean oh so many years later. The circle is finally closed.
Stevie Wonder's full band, (is it even still called Wonderlove?), hit the stage, setting the table with a low down groove, and soon enough, Stevie appeared from the wings, noodling on a Yamaha portable keyboard, as he made his grand entrance across the stage to a bank of keyboards. Not even bothering with his own overstuffed songbook, he opened in full engagement mode, leading a singalong of "How Sweet It Is", before clinching the party with "Master Blaster", and "Higher Ground". After that, it was human jukebox mode, as he ripped through his own hits, and nodded to others, with covers of John Lennon's "Imagine", and Jimmy Reed's "You've Got Me Running", aided by daughter Aisha. Her presence onstage during "Isn't She Lovely", a song inspired by her birth, was a sight to behold. The horns were impeccable, adding a great high life coda to "Don't You Worry 'Bout A Thing", and Stevie himself was in the finest form, making a well timed leap across keyboard benches to effect a heart-stopping transistion from "I Wish" to "Signed, Sealed, Delivered". "As" provided an uplifting highlight near the end of the regular set, finishing off with his Dr. King salute, "Happy Birthday".
It was an unforgettable end to an amazing weekend. From wooded forests to the Main Stage, Outsidelands 2012 had it all, and it will be a delight to see how they try to top themselves next year.