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Isn't he Wonderful?
Stevie Wonder takes time on stage to entertain his fans

by Timothy Tilghman

Stevie Wonder brought his musical entourage to the Etess Arena at the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, New Jersey, on Saturday, June 21, 2008. The cavernous venue seats a capacity of 5,600. Wonder's gig was practically a sell out with only patches of empty seats visible scattered throughout the arena.

Wonder was accompanied by his daughter Aisha Morris who is a member of the backing vocalists on stage. His extended traveling caravan included two guitarists, two horn players, two keyboardists, two percussionists, a bassist, a drummer, and three back-up singers one of which was his beautiful daughter.

Entitled A Wonder Summer's Night 2008, Wonder's performance drew from his more recent material and focused mainly on ballads. His touring unit was tight and could handle the most subtle moments on stage. Wonder chatted infrequently addressing the audience and commented on his compositions.

A few songs into his set, Wonder launched into "Higher Ground", and the crowd reacted positively to the funky feel of the tune. From the piano, Wonder began a lavish instrumental entitled "Spain" that featured all of the individual musicians in his group each taking a turn by soloing on their instruments.

"Living For The City" and "Golden Lady" were two favorites with the crowd. Wonder treated the Atlantic City audience to an unreleased title "Keep Fooling Yourself Baby Girl", recorded for a future project. As the harmony chorus faded, Wonder barked aloud, "Whatcha think?"

His daughter Aisha Morris was introduced by Wonder and sang a tender torch ballad seated behind her father on the piano stool. Upon completion, Wonder exclaimed, "That's my girl!" He immediately segued into "Isn't She Lovely", a song he wrote for her when she was born that was a major hit off Songs In The Key Of Life released in 1976.

Wonder queried the crowd if there was a song that audience members had made love by while the song played. He proceeded to sing a suite of moving melodies with "Ribbon In The Sky", "Overjoyed", and "My Cherie Amour". Wonder enjoined the men and women in the crowd to sing along during the chorus and coda portions, remarking whether or not their contributions were volume worthy.

The audience was motivated to stand on their feet for "Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours" and stood through several numbers. A catalogue of musical successes followed with "Sir Duke", "I Wish", and "Part-time Lover". The entire house crowd was grooving. Guest rapper Q-Tip put in a stage appearance joining the band for two raucous romps.

Stevie himself to stood up to sing his classic 1966 single "Uptight (Everything's Alright). The bass vibe anchored the animated audience. "I Just Called To Say I Love You" was pleasant, but the stage jam spiked anew with the mega-groove on "Superstition" as Wonder returned to play the organ.

Wonder closed his concert with the mellow "As (I'll Be Loving You Always)". Mild preaching crept into his vocals as the power of the tempo built. Before exiting the stage arm in arm with Aisha, Wonder affirmed that "Impossible is unacceptable" and encouraged his fans to believe in themselves and their dreams.

Atlantic City setlist: As If You Read My Mind * Master Blaster * Did I Hear You Say You Love Me * All I Do * My Love Is On Fire * Tell Me Something Good * Higher Ground * Spain * Don't You Worry 'Bout A Thing * Visions * Living For The City * Golden Lady * Keep Fooling Yourself Baby Girl * Aisha Morris lead vocal * Isn't She Lovely * Ribbon In The Sky * Overjoyed * My Cherie Amour * Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours * Sir Duke * I Wish * Part-time Love * Do I Do * For Once In My Life * Uptight (Everything's Alright) * I Just Called To Say I Love You * Superstition * As (I'll Be Loving You Always)

RockonTour   Issue #82
Concert Fan - the Single Source for the Concertphile 2008 RockonTour