ACL Live Shots
Reviewed by Margaret Moser, Fri., Sept. 23, 2011
Stevie WonderZilker Park, Sept. 17
"Master Blaster" Stevie Wonder minted ACL Fest 2011's big moment simply by walking onstage. Resplendent in a gold and Chinese-red dashiki, trademark cornrows spilling past his shoulders, he entered unaccompanied with a keytar strapped around his neck to the howls of thousands. Many of those faithful had marked their spots during Cee Lo's previous set (where Nakia sang a verse of "Forget You") and waved their purple unicorn freak flags. Paying tribute to Marvin Gaye by opening with "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)," Wonder gave a nod to his Motown roots first, following up with Michael Jackson's "The Way You Make Me Feel." After "Master Blaster (Jammin')" and "My Eyes Don't Cry," "Higher Ground" finally set the groove with groupings of songs from Wonder's legendary 1960s and 1970s repertoire ("Living for The City," "Don't You Worry 'Bout a Thing"), written as words of hope for a generation in flux. Even when Wonder imparted meaningful political substance to his songs, he's a romantic, and the arc of "wedding" songs – "I Believe (When I Fall In Love It Will Be Forever)" and "Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours," plus "Sir Duke," shimmered with exuberance and heartfelt joy. Wonder's massive onstage accompaniment included daughter Aisha (for whom "Isn't She Lovely" was written and noted), and if the sing-along on "Do I Do" fell short, it was the audience. The two-hour set ended with starry bursts of electric "Superstition," a touch of "Fever," and love song of love songs, "As" – radiant, luminous, and, as ever, Wonder-full.