//Stevie Wonder at the Calling Festival Review

Stevie Wonder at the Calling Festival Review

By | 2018-11-08T20:38:16+00:00 June 30th, 2014|Categories: Reviews|Tags: , , , , |0 Comments
Second day at Calling Festival. Festival goers traded yesterday's wellies, trek shoes and umbrellas for sunglasses, sun cream and hats in Clapham Common. Most of us are still getting over Aerosmith rocking performance but we are very impatient to listen sunday's amazing line up. 
 
Today's crowd is quite different from yesterday's: younger, we swapped the rock chick outfits for a more chilled and flower power look. By the time Calling Festival starts with performances from Jetta and JJ Rosa, we quickly realized that we should have brought the umbrella instead of the sun cream.
 
On the Pepsi Max StageWill Heard starts the show with a cover of Destiny's Child "Say my name" and engage with the crowd immediately asking to sing along. He shared his excitement to see Stevie Wonder as well as funny anecdotes. Will Heard is funny and seductive during and between songs. Despite fans begging for "the sun don't shine" he kept it for last! 
 
Running to Main Stage to see James Bay, a talented 23-year old singer-songwriter. He brings a new voice to music with a voice mixing warm tones, fragile high notes and folk twist. He was performing "If you ever want to be in love". Wearing a big hat hiding his face, holding his guitar, James Bay seduced the crowd with his humble and shy comments between songs as well as his great vocal range and delicate lyrics. He sang "let it go" giving an honest and emotional performance. 
 
Around the Main Stage, Stand Up to Cancer stand is pretty busy with a group of girls taking photos next to the Hoff's poster.Michael Kinawuka is arriving on stage back from Glastonbury with muddy trousers. His earthy voice warmed us from the start despite the rain. Outside his repertoire, he sang  his favorite song: Jimmy Hendrix "Waterfall". One of the last songs was "Home again", which really pleased the crowd. While waiting for Paloma Faith's to enter the stage, I meet James Bay near the Magnum Ice cream van. Surrounded by fans, he is shy and friendly, very grateful of all the postive comments from his performance earlier.
 
While looking around, a lot of families come to Calling Festival. However, there is no real space or activities for children. Except for the space in the dedicated Guest Area, it would be great to have activities for kids next year.
 
By 4pm, It's raining heavily in Clapham Common. No one is really discouraged but we are all impatient to see Paloma Faith. Blanckets on the floor become shelters and umbrellas pop up like mushrooms. Paola Faith's crew, wearing tartan outfits, arrives first. Then she makes her big entrance wearing a huge white feather hat, even bird nest like, tight rubber skirt and a lace crop top. She performed her biggest hits and got the crowd laughing, clapping and singing. 
 
Another act to watch: Norma Jean Martine. I remember her performance at Montreux Jazz Festival and am really looking forward seeing her at the Calling Festival. Her voice is like no other: powerful and broken, jazzy and blues. She is 21 from America but moved to London last year. Listening to her work, you can see her Nashville blues influence. She opens with "No more Alone" which makes her very emotional at the end. Her vulnerability and honesty about being homesick seduces the crowd who shares support and cheers. She then starts singing "Still in love with you" and puts the crowd at her feet until the end of the performance.
 
Jack Johnson arrives on stage and brings his Hawai cool vibe to Clapham Common. There's no rain and the crowd is mainly sitting in blanckets enjoying the show and clapping. Over to Pepsi Max, Flyte, new Indie Funk band from London,  is performing their last song "faithless". The lead singer, Will Taylor, is a charming performer, engaging with the crowd. 
 
The sun is back and Clapham Common seem completely packed. The queues to the loos are endless and water points and food stands are very busy. People are coming in mass for the 2 last acts: Gregory Porter and today's headliner Stevie Wonder. 
 
Gregory Porter is the last act at the Pepsi Max stage. Porter won the 2014 Grammy for best jazz vocal album with Liquid Spirit. The fans arrived early not to miss a thing. Gregory Porter is a powerful baritone – velvety voice mixing blues and jazz rich rich tones and delicate control in nuances. He performs mainly songs from his latest album such as "on my way to Harlem", "Be Good", or "Liquid Spirit". His charisma and stage presence wowed the audience immediately. There is a wisdom and kindness coming from him and the audience is very receptive. He is also surrounded by amazing musicians Chip Crawford on piano, Aaron James on bass, Emanuel Harrold on drums, and Yosuke Sato on alto sax. He engages with the audience naturally. 
 
by 7.30pm, Clapham Common is nearly full and it is getting hard to find a space to watch the show. After a long introduction setting the mood and presenting each member of the crew, Stevie Wonder comes in playing the keytar, wearing red glasses and matching trainers, an ethnic shirt and white trousers. The opening song is "How sweet it is (to be loved by you)". Asking the audience to be part of his choir and playing the piano, he starts the intro of "Jammin Master Blaster" which triggered a general scream of excitement.  The crowd is singing and dancing until the tables in the back near the Tuborg beer stand.
 
Photo courtesy of Calling Festival
 
Stevie Wonder is now playing the harpejji and asks the audience to clap following the drums. He is definitely keeping us involved and busy! Now it is time for "Don't worry bout a thing" with a Brasilian samba edge. The bongos are running the show and everybody is dancing. Stevie Wonder shows once again the strength of his vocals as well as his witty sense of humour between songs asking now the crowd to sing "like we mean it". We all start singing and clapping for " Just enough for the city" and finished A capella with "Ebony and Ivory". He then asks "what can we do for the fun of it ?". It's the beginning of "Part time lover" and Stevie Wonder leaves us amazed by his impressive vocal range from deep tones to high notes and gets us all on our feet. Follows a unanimous crowd pleaser "Signed, sealed, delivered, I'm yours". Trumpets and Saxophone lead the intro of "Sir Duke" and the crowd is still dancing and singing. In order to slow things a bit, Stevie Wonder gives a very delicate performance of "you are the sunshine of my life" with a caribbean sound twist. He has a witty sense of humour and plays along with a delighted audience. After "My Cherie Amour" and "I just called to say I love you", he pays a tribute to the late Bobby Womack letting his longtime backing vocalist Keith John sing "if you think you're lonely now". It's time for a cover of the Shirelles' song "Will you still love me tomorrow" with a zouk arrangements. For the last song, Stevie Wonder is joined on stage by Richie Sambora, just back from Glastonbury who takes his guitar and performs with the band "Superstition". Thank you Stevie Wonder for your energy, amazing performance and generosity. It was a great end of a 2-day festival full of talented acts. See you next year, Calling Festival!

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