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


United Kingdom United Kingdom | by Lorraine Bow, Rhian Daly | 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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VaidBharath wrote on Friday 5 February :

@Rhian "we've been promised something really special." And he is special to those who know about music

"Consider this: not having released a halfway decent single since the late seventies," Singles don't make good quality music. He was nominated at the 2010 Grammys for best male vocalist; in 2006 nominated for 4 Grammy's winning 2 for his last album, 8 Grammys during the 80's and 90's and 14 during the seventies. He is the only musician of his era to remain relevant and still acknowledged by the industry for his genius - from 1963 to today. Last year Wonder was commissioned to write a classical piece of Music for the US Library of Congress - You do not get such an honour unless you are still considered a great artist.

"Wonder's allotted time slot will probably mostly consist of sentimental tripe from his commercial period." You seem to be an insider on Stevie's rehearsal sessions knowing what he will play! Do some research on the set-lists of his concerts so you wouldn't continue making such a fool of yourself in public.

"who really wants to stand on tired legs for two hours listening to 'I Just Called To Say I Love You? or Skeletons??! " You are obviously unaware of the depth and breadth of Wonder's song catalogue. Check it out at www.steviewonder.org.uk

"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." What hypocrisy - When last did Bowie or Rolling Stones release a 'halfway decent single'? When last did they win Grammy's? Great performers no doubt - but maybe you have never seen Stevie perform live?

"Well, there's no opportunity for him to soundcheck properly before taking to the stage.... could lead to a set marred by technical difficulties rather than a defining moment in the festival's history." Certainly scraping the barrel there for negatives. Wonder has played outdoor festivals in the US that makes Glastonbury look like a school playground. Last year doing the Chicago music fest, year before headlining the New Orleans Jazz Festival and before that Live 8. I think he and his crew are quite capable in that department.

"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 Bowie and Rolling Stones. Wonder did have his peek period, longer than most, from the early 60's to the mid 80's however he has remained relevant to this date. Last week's music telethon for Haiti featured Wonder to help raise money. Why use someone who is irrelevant to help raise funds? He was invited to perform simply because he is still relevant. More than can be said for artists you suggest.

"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?" You seem to know the mind of Michael Eavis. Your subjective line of thought can predict that Wonder will barely be good but Bowie would be phenomenal. Wow!

"it would have been nice to have a Pyramid Stage finale worth getting excited about." Many of the younger generation may not be aware of the genius of Wonder but knowledge and open mindedness is a wonderful cure to cast out stereotyping. After the first note he plays, if he does play, will more than get everyone excited. I know from experience.

"I, for one, will not be watching." Some people do like to keep their head buried in the sand. It will only be to their detriment though.

Well hope he is there to close with a 'Happy Birthday' to Glastonbury.

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