Duh. That was the response heard around the Valley when news broke that MGM had signed Stevie Wonder for five dates at Park Theater—because it already should have happened.
Wonder is an obvious candidate for such a booking because of several bona fides—the most important being his songbook, one of the most beloved and revered in the history of popular music. Which is likely a reason why his Park Theater engagement is called The Stevie Wonder Song Party: A Celebration of Life, Love & Music.
As such, choosing his setlist each night will be rife with hard calls. But what’s more intriguing is the lone thing he has said about the show’s concept—that he wants people to bring the Stevie music and mementos that remind them of special experiences in their lives. “They can describe them to me as I do the song. It will be very interactive: BYLP—bring your LP.”
Interesting, but what’s that going to look like? Will we be rushing some crowd mic, ring-worn copies of Talking Book in hand, telling Stevie about the first time we heard “Superstition”? Or will we be recording these stories in some sort of private booth ahead of the performance, to be played onscreen later with their corresponding songs?
Maybe he has already scrapped that idea. If you’ve ever seen him start a song in concert and then suddenly stop to play another, you know he can be capricious. Which is to say anything’s possible with that guy. Which is to also say he could be sticking with this. And if so, who wouldn’t imagine what they would do if given the chance to share an anecdote—a real fan-to-hero moment?
I know I’ve already strategized among my modest stack of Stevie records. The obvious choice: Songs in the Key of Life, the album Stevie gives the most setlist love. I would tell him it means a lot to me because it’s the first vinyl record of his I ever bought, and it was released the year of my birth (Google it, nosy). Or, maybe I opt to bring Fulfillingness’ First Finale, and talk about how I rescued the unloved copy at the Broadacres Marketplace one beautiful Sunday afternoon—and perhaps make the case that Stevie should dust off that album’s “They Won’t Go When I Go.”
Or, I could play the wild card and bring my soundtrack for The Woman in Red. Stereogum once ranked it as the worst Stevie Wonder album of all time, and I won’t dispute that. But it happens to have my favorite Stevie song of all time: “Love Light in Flight.” I loved dancing to it as an 8-year-old boy when it came on the radio or MTV, and I still move about when it’s spun on my turntable or Spotify. I would jump at the chance to tell him that.
Alas, Stevie hasn’t played it in 11 years. But maybe he shakes that one off, too, and makes my night, month and year. If his career has told us anything, it’s that anything is possible.
STEVIE WONDER August 3-4, 8 & 10-11, 8 p.m., $63-$325. Park Theater, 844-600-7275.