Stevie Wonder. What a man. I have yet to plumb the true depths of his overwhelming awesomeness but one thing that illuminated my mind to the genius of the funkmaster that little bit more was watching a rerun of a concert held in February to honour him. I was filled with the spirit of soul by enough songs with enough groove to burn a whole house down. Recordings of the performance are harder to get a hold on than a bar of wet soap but I’ve managed to find a few on the tube for your viewing pleasure. One thing that is tragically lacking is videos of Wonder himself, showing everyone else how to REALLY break it down. I did manage to find the finale though. HELL YEAH.
Lady Gaga’s performance is definitely one to watch. “I Wish” has too much funk to even describe and Miss Lady did an awesome job truly getting those funk juices flowing. She also gave us all a lesson in how to play the piano with one hand whilst jiggling like a pot of jell-o. Gaga never fails to surprise, and this time she totally shocked us by proving that there is some reeeaaal musical buzz behind her showy theatrics. Massive hats off to the band on this number, I love love love that brass sound combined with the skipping bass. Note: she kind of looks like a baby trying really hard to dance from the comfort of a bum-on-floor position at 3:30.
India Arie, Janelle Monae, and Jill Scott (what a TEAM), had a good old crack at Stevie’s sassy classic, “As”. Loved the harmony at the beginning and the fact that Monae was wearing the widest of wide-brimmed hats. All three had a chance to fully flex their powerhouse chords, including the most charming interlude by Arie, in which she smiles beautifully throughout. Arie also whips out the killer final note with maximum confidence. My highlight was when they got all growly at 3:27. If you want a true schooling in soul check this one out.
Wearing the shortest dress of all time ever, Beyonce proved that her voice is truly electric in her tribute medley. I almost can’t handle how much she rocks the opening with her sexy calls for the audience to scream “yeeeah”. Could have done without Ed Sheeran’s totally unnecessary appearance. His voice is frankly below par in comparison to Bey’s belt. Come on producers of this show, you know better than to zap the energy with a man whose greatest strength is managing to overcome the barrier of gingerdom. Gary Clark Jr. makes a valid contribution, with a nice little guitar solo and a few croons. But if I may be frank, this should have Beyonce’s gig. I mean she made it hers but why add the extras? Probably cause they had no place anywhere else. Sorry guys, don’t turn up to a Stevie Wonder tribute if you can’t deliver the goods. All hail Queen Bey.
Stevie’s rendition of “Happy Birthday” took the proceedings home in true style and class like only he knows how. He begins with an almost-minute-long speech hailing the courage of Martin Luther King and promoting freedom and equality in general (combining funk and human rights with fabulous ease). Also some more BONGOS to pepper the palette. UH HUH. No one could top the pure heart and soul that he puts into his live performances. He’s probably sung that song a thousand times and yet he delivers it with irresistible energy. May he grace us all with his kingly presence for many years to come.
PS: if you manage to find any of Stevie’s live performances from that night (especially his epic “Superstition”), holla at me. xxx