On Sunday, soul and pop legend Stevie Wonder brought his sprawling double-album ‘Songs In The Key Of Life’ to Hyde Park for 65,000 enthused punters. The 40-year-old album, which tackled issues of racial prejudice in America, took extra relevance following the recent police shootings and subsequent Black Lives Matter protests across the world, something which Wonder directly addressed in his show. Here’s what went down at the joyous, tense and important show yesterday.
Before beginning his performance, Wonder told the crowd: "In this troubled time I want to say to all of you that I love you all. And I love you because I was blessed to be blind, it was a gift so that I could show those of you who have everything you have the blessing you have to use them all. That everyday is to please God and to use the gift of song that he has given me to encourage you to move forward".
Wonder also made reference to the recent Black Lives Matter protests in the US and in London. "In one sense I'm very happy that 'Songs In The Key Of Life' are still significant almost 40 years later. In another sense I'm not happy about that. The reason is that the songs and the words that we talk about, those conditions still exist in the world and that hurts my heart," he told to the sold-out crowd. Wonder then implored the crowd to "choose love over hate, right over wrong, kindness over meanness" and that "black lives matter is because we are the original people of this world."
He then launched into the first half of the 1976 album following the album's original tracklist of 'Love's In Need Of Love Today', 'Have a Talk with God', 'Village Ghetto Land', 'Contusion' and 'Sir Duke', the latter of which received one of the warmest responses of the four-hour show.
Radio 1 DJ Annie Mac was seen dancing and singing enthusiastically throughout, with other celebrities including Natalie Portman, One Direction's Niall Horan, Julianne Moore, Naomi Campbell, Bradley Cooper, Martin Freeman and Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker also seen in attendance at the 65,000-strong show.
Backed by a 20-piece band, Wonder also found time to attempt a cockney accent, challenge world leaders to "cut the bull... and fix it" and also perform a heart-rending cover of Etta James' 'At Last'.
The marathon four-hour show was split into two halves, with the flip-side of the record visited in the show's second half following a 30-minute intermission. During the second half Wonder performed extended cuts of 'Isn't She Lovely', 'Joy Inside My Tears', a cover of Box Tops' 'The Letter' before closing the show's main set with the record's final track 'Another Star'.
Several other celebrities were also spotted in attendance, with boxer David Haye, Britain's Got Talent judge Alesha Dixon and broadcaster Laura Whitmore all seen floating around in Hyde Park's VIP areas.
Towards the end of his set Wonder paid tribute to the late Prince by taking a step behind the DJ decks, assuming the moniker DJ Tick Tick Boom and spinning The Purple One's 'Kiss' and 'When Doves Cry', with his backing band and choir taking up vocal duties.
Following his brief DJ set and completion of his 'Songs In The Key Of Life', Wonder closed out the show with three final hits, 'Part-Time Lover', 'Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours' and 1972 single 'Superstition'. Crowds were later heard singing the latter on the Tubes home following the momentous evening.