The nearly sold-out crowd in the Target Center rose to their feet for an extended standing ovation before even a single song was sung, before even a single word was spoken, a grand tribute to a musical legend who decades-long legacy has left an incredible impact on the industry. This crowd knew who this man was, and from the start were aching to show him both respect and appreciation on a grand (and very audible) scale.
For his part, Stevie Wonder did not disappoint. Accompanied by a massive supporting cast of musicians and singers, Wonder displayed an incredible vocal range for his age as he guided the audience through the ups and downs of his Songs in the Key of Life album. The setlist was wonderfully arranged, maneuvering deftly between the slower, more soulful tracks, tracks like “Village Ghetto Land” and “Love’s in Need of Love Today”, and those fast, upbeat, and infinitely danceable tracks that brought the crowd to their feet again and again to dance like no one was watching, tracks like “Sir Duke” and “I Wish.”
Wonder was more than just on point with his music; his playful stage-banter was a sight to behold. In engaging with a bit of improvisation with his backup singers, Wonder simultaneously showed off a very warm personality while giving those folks in the background a chance to shine.
If there was really any criticism to lob at this performance, it would have to be levied at a rather long and ponderous jam session that seemed to drag a touch. The reluctance of the string section, composed of local musicians, to engage with the improv was probably a big part of that situation, but one could imagine it may be a bit difficult to step up to the plate on Stevie Wonder’s stage, even with his support and blessing.
Overall, this was a great show, an opportunity not to be missed. The fact that Stevie Wonder can still perform at this level is incredible. Wonder played up to his status with an unforgettable performance that absolutely electrified those in attendance and brought the near-capacity crowd at the Target Center to their feet in a celebration of joy that was incredible to be a part of.
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