The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

Stevie wonder

sandalford winery, margaret river

2nd march 2012





It’s not often we get to see the real legends in Western Australia, often missing out on the bigger tours to the Eastern States. Tonight therefore is very special indeed; as we get to be the only state that gets a visit from one of the biggest names in the world – Stevie Wonder.



It’s a well-dressed crowd of all ages that lines the hills of Sandalford Estate tonight to catch one of music’s all-time greats. With a career now spanning six decades Stevie Wonder is just one of those artists that has transcended style and genre and with a setlist that changes every night no one knows what to expect or when.



There are a few hitches tonight in truth, but it is a testament to Wonder’s professionalism that they don’t manage to cast a shadow over what is a great show. We start off running an hour behind schedule, which has given the crowd plenty of time to down a few drinks at the bars, which have been open since two hours before the scheduled start time. In the photo pit we get sixty seconds of the first song which is one of the reasons I have the pleasure in covering the show for The Rockpit!



Opening with the Holland-Dozier-Holland penned ‘How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You)’ made famous by Marvin Gaye (and with the guy next to is in the crowd erroneously and loudly proclaiming that it is the best song Stevie ever wrote) Stevie walks out on stage with a huge smile and a even bigger huge white keytar to a great ovation and the crowd instantly on their collective feet. The 8000-strong crowd were overwhelmed despite the initially muddy mix that beset the first few numbers, which saw Wonders vocals largely lost in what was a rather muddy mix.



Ever the professional by the time Stevie took a seat at his keyboard and apologised to the crowd for the sound (very politely asking the desk to turn up his vocals) things were pretty much right and the show proper was on.



Working his way through his back catalogue of 70s classics including the mighty ‘Superstition’ and ‘You And I‘ and a smattering of his 80s hits including the ubiquitous ‘I Just Called to Say I Love You’ the crowd was firmly in the palm of the master-blaster’s hand from the off despite the technical difficulties throughout, especially feedback from mic and PA, which in truth didn’t seem to dampen anyone’s spirits on the night.






Accompanied by a band of 13 players this night’s audience with Stevie proved just what a quintessential performer he is; and whilst his voice may not be all it was back in the day, it has not lost a lot of his depth: though the cold he picked up just before he got here of course may have been the culprit.  



Highlights of the night are many but ‘Master Blaster’ has to be one; along with the funky ‘Higher Ground’ and ‘Living for the City’ which a lot of the crowd here tonight had come for – the seventies classics rather than the slicker 80’s hits. Sporting a pretty decent take on an Aussie accent throughout with many a “what’d ya say mate?” and a “Just chill mate” he seemed to be in his element and with is trademark head bob and smile he brought a huge warmth to the show that was imply infectious.



Joking with his daughter later in the show Wonder asked her "Am I going to have an Aussie son-in-law," and if he was, he told her:  “He better be so handsome I can see him!”. After a duet with his daughter of ‘If You Really Love Him’  the band broke into ‘Isn't She Lovely’, a song originally written for his daughter before a couple more from that era in ‘For Once in My Life’ and ‘My Cherie Amour’; before the main set ended with the wonderful ‘Superstition’.



That’s not to say there aren’t a few mishaps: Stevie bands his mic at one point a breaks intio a fit of giggles, and he coerces his backing singer into trying Chaka Khan’s ‘I’m Every Woman’ despite protestations that “I don’t know the words!” which we find out soon after is perfectly true!



As far as encores go the medley that started with ‘My Girl’ (not a Wonder original we feel obliged this time to point out to the loud man from earlier in the piece) and ended with ‘I Just Called To Say I Love You’ where Stevie calls the intro notes and key changes was as solid as they come.  With the crowd crashing the reserved area and on their feet the majority of the night I can’t believe that anyone went home disappointed. This is a man whose music has stood the test of time and as a performer simply excels.



On his way from the stage Wonder also signed the baby grand piano he had been playing that will now be auctioned off for a very worthy cause – the children’s charity Strike A Chord.



A magical night at Sandalfords.





by Guest Reviewer Nat Lee