Stevie Wonder Hits All the Right Keys

MGM Grand Garden Arena, Nov. 29

Photo by Wayne Posner

Photo by Wayne Posner

This show was every bit as expansive and ambitious as the album being celebrated. One of just 11 dates covering Wonder’s entire 1976 magnum opus Songs in the Key of Life, the three-hour concert showcased the wide range of musical styles and societal and spiritual lyrical content explored on the album (plus its accompanying four-song EP). More than 30 musicians and singers (including guest vocalist India.Arie) filled the stage on many songs, yet only a string section accompanied Wonder’s vocal on “Village Ghetto Land,” while “If It’s Magic” featured Wonder singing over the original harp track from Songs. Album hits “Sir Duke” and “I Wish” got the strongest crowd response, as did “Isn’t She Lovely,” with the song’s inspiration, Wonder’s daughter and backup singer Aisha, swaying lovingly as her father performed an extended harmonica solo sitting at his keyboard. After finishing Songs, Wonder dipped into his catalog as DJ Tick Tick Boom, delivering only snippets from many of his classic hits, such as “Boogie on Reggae Woman” and “Part-Time Lover,” blowing each one up as he moved to the next, teasing the crowd the whole way. But the abbreviated medley of hits was excusable. It allowed Wonder more time to give Songs the needed room to breathe, covering a musical expanse on one album that most artists couldn’t traverse in a lifetime.★★★★★

Love’s In Need of Love Today
Have a Talk With God (with India.Arie)
Village Ghetto Land
Sir Duke
I Wish
Knocks Me Off My Feet/Fever
Pastime Paradise
Summer Soft
Ordinary Pain
Saturn (with India.Arie)
Ebony Eyes

Isn’t She Lovely
Joy Inside My Tears
Black Man
All Day Sucker
Easy Goin’ Evening (My Mama’s Call)
Ngiculela – Es Una Historia – I Am Singing/The Way You Make Me Feel (with India.Aria)
If It’s Magic
Another Star (with India.Arie)
DJ Tick Tick Boom: Hey Love/Boogie On Reggae Woman/Part-Time Love/Higher Ground/Maybe Your Baby/Too High/Living For the City
Don’t You Worry ’Bout a Thing (partial)
I Just Called to Say I Love You (partial)
Master Blaster (Jammin’) (partial)
Do I Do (partial)
My Cherie Amour