Stevie Wonder - Bestival 2012 review

'A set that will go down in Bestival history'

Photographer:Sara Bowrey

dan frost - 09 September 2012

Bestival has enjoyed many great headliners over the years. But few can have elicited such unquantifiable joy and unquestioning crowd support as Stevie Wonder.

After the drabness of New Order last night and an unremarkable performance by Florence And The Machine on Friday, the 62-year-old Wonder proves to be the ultimate headliner and the perfect festival conclusion, with as cathartic and uplifting a performance as any crowd could hope for.

Dressed in a red and black outfit that makes him look like an extra from Babylon Five, Wonder has them eating from his hand the moment he wanders on stage clasping a keytar.

From there, it's a bombardment of non-stop classics, starting with 'How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)', followed by 'Master Blaster (Jammin')', then 'Higher Ground' and then a cover of Michael Jackson's 'The Way You Make Me Feel' (the first of the night's five covers). It's quite an opening half hour.

There really isn't a dull moment. Not even an interminable percussion-only section can ruin the mood. The crowd are with him every step of the way, singing their hearts out at every opportunity - of which there are many.

Crowd vocals are almost deafening on 'Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours', 'Sir Duke', 'Uptight' and, of course, 'Superstition'.

The band are as impeccable as one would expect, and Wonder himself is in fine voice, managing in spite of the thousands of shows he must have played over the years to display the joy and gratitude of a first-timer.

His beautiful cover of John Lennon's 'Imagine' is almost as special as 'I Just Called To Say I Love You', and 'Happy Birthday' is the superlative crowd-pleasing closer.

Followed by a spectacular firework display, it is a set that will go down in Bestival history and ends the festival on one of the highest notes it has ever reached.


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