Signed, sealed, almost delivered... Will Stevie Wonder be one of the best Glastonbury headliners ever?

By LLorraine | rhiandaly on 04 February 2010

Yes argues Lorraine Bow

Yes, yes, yes! Stevie Wonder is a legend in his own lifetime! That word is used so frequently these days, but is never qualified. Stevie Wonder was signed to Motown Records at the tender age of 11. He has been in the business his whole life, and has always collaborated with the best musicians and singers throughout his career. He has produced 19 US and UK albums, and 58 singles which have entered the charts. He is one of the most sampled singers/artists in the world today, so even if you don’t think you know many of his songs, you will definitely know his music.

I’d advise anyone who wasn’t sure about Stevie to listen to ‘Songs in the Key of Life’ and ‘Talking Book’, which are, in my opinion his best albums. There are songs on there which have been sampled many many times, instantly recognisable, great music. My personal favourite song is ‘Superstition’. I hope that this is his grand finale at Glastonbury. These albums have influenced generations of musicians and people, powerful leaders (Barack Obama) and also an army of fans who are everyday people (including me).

His shows are big productions, laced with musicians and surprise special guests.  Having seen a show from the front section at the O2 last year, I know it’s well worth making the effort to get down to see him if you have a Glastonbury ticket.  Expect the wow factor that comes from years of being a legendary musician, who has experienced success in the music industry. I’m not sure what he’ll do to translate that indoor show to an outdoor extravaganza, but if anyone saw Paul McCartney, or Bruce Springsteen, you’ll know that legends are so called for a very good reason! I, for one, will be at the front, centre stage to see this legend, as I know he’ll sign, seal and deliver an amazing show!

No says Rhian Daly

So Stevie Wonder is almost certainly going to be headlining this year’s Glastonbury but have the Eavises made the right choice? Frankly, no. In all the line-up speculation for the festival’s 40th anniversary we’ve been promised something really special. No doubt the Motown-signed singer making his UK festival debut will be just that, but as headliner?

Consider this: not having released a halfway decent single since the late seventies, Wonder’s allotted time slot will probably mostly consist of sentimental tripe from his “commercial period”. Particularly as he has been said to be closing the festival on the Sunday night, who really wants to stand on tired legs for two hours listening to ‘I Just Called To Say I Love You’ or Skeletons’?! No good party ever ends quietly so Glastonbury’s 40th bash should finish with a bang, something Bowie or the Rolling Stones would definitely have provided.

Even if he does stick to the classics, Stevie’s never played a UK festival before. Why’s that important? Well, there’s no opportunity for him to soundcheck properly before taking to the stage. When you’re headlining a festival as big as this, you want to make an impression - to  put on the best show you possibly can. Insufficient opportunity for Stevie and his crew to set up could lead to a set marred by technical difficulties rather than a defining moment in the festival’s history.

Do Glastonbury goers really want to see Stevie Wonder anyway? He hasn’t been relevant to the larger music world in god knows how many years (although the same could be argued of U2) and his booking smacks slightly of Michael Eavis realising his headliners were all pompous rock bands and deciding to inject a bit of eclecticism into the line-up. There’s plenty of variety available across the rest of the weekend so why sacrifice what could have been a phenomenal close to the event for something that will be good at best, just to make a point? The age old argument that rears its head year upon year of there being plenty of other stuff going on other than the headliners is true, but for what is a special year in the history of Glastonbury it would have been nice to have a Pyramid Stage finale worth getting excited about.

Yes, it’s a bold move and no, it’s not everyday you get the opportunity to witness someone of Wonder’s status live on stage but is Glastonbury the right setting for such a moment? I’m not so sure and I, for one, will not be watching.

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