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Stevie Wonder

One way to get people to smile at you on the street in New York City is to carry a giant floating smile emoji. Another is to hum Stevie Wonder’s Sir Duke. Anyone walking past me on Monday night would have had the opportunity to experience both, thanks to the wonder of Mr Wonder.
Stevie Wonder played three shows in three different cities – starting in Washington DC, then moving onto Philadelphia, before finishing at Central Park. The 65-year-old’s team made the announcement on the Internet, as links and passwords spread online, for the chance to see the legend perform a free show. Online, the tickets were gone in about a minute, but there were plenty being handed out in Gramercy Park. Or just outside the entrance to Summerstage, where people were feeling like Father Christmas handing out presents to strangers passing by. “Hey, do you need a ticket?” Here!” It was quite a lovely sight.
Inside Summerstage, on a muggy Monday night, Stevie took to the stage to great applause. He announced he’d be playing the last of his Songs in the Key of Life tour dates, for the US at least, this Autumn, and that he’d end the tour at Madison Square Garden. At these shows, the 65-year old has been playing for three hours at a time, so hitting three cities in one day seemed a breeze for him. After every song he performed on Monday night, he would let out an exuberant “ooh” or “aahhh.”
I’d only seen Stevie perform two songs at Nelson Mandela’s 91st birthday concert at Radio City Music Hall in 2008 and he seems just as spirited as back then in 2009.
Before he started singing, Stevie used the opportunity to speak on something he says he’s been praying about, the way he does about a song or anything else of importance in his life. He, like a lot of other Americans, wants to see stricter gun control and more accountability on the issue. He was met with resounding cheers. “If you shoot a gun, then you must claim the bullet,” he stated, before launching into an anthem that’s ever-necessary, Love’s In Need of Love Today.
When he started If It’s Magic, the woman behind me squealed, “oooh, this is my favourite!” Another few favourites followed: Village Ghetto Land, then Sir Duke, then I Wish, As, and finally Another Star. “We can’t stay here all night,” he teased. “But we gon’ be AlRIGHT!” he added – quoting the Kendrick Lamar track. Earlier he played a bit of the Weeknd’s Can’t Feel my Face. Ever the cool cat.
Stevie suggested he’ll be heading back to the studio once he’s wrapped this tour.  Perhaps we’ll be treated to Kendrick and Stevie on a track together. Now that would be all RIGHT!

xmne * Just a few days after the Captain America trailer was released, we now have the X-Men: Days of Future Past one. Professor Xavier and the rest of the team band together with their younger selves for this installment of the story, which hits theatres in May next year. * Stevie Wonder has announced he plans to release two albums next year, including some newly written songs, plus he’s working on a third. 63 ain’t nothing but a number! * The British music industry will hand out one of its most prestigious awards, the Mercury Prize in a few hours. Disclosure, Rudimental and Laura Mvula are among the nominees. * Morrissey‘s controversial autobiography, titled ever so eloquently as Autobiography, has finally found an American publisher after it became a bestseller in the UK.  It will now come out in the US on December 3. * Last night Celine Dion performed an intimate show in NYC, ahead of her new album, Loved Me Back to Life releasing next week. And it was pretty darn awesome.

Pic: X-Men tumblr


* Before he hits the screen as Nelson Mandela in Long Walk to Freedom, Idris Elba will be seen attempting to “cancel the apocalypse” in Pacific Rim. Nothing like the release of a trailer online to get fans excited ahead of the Guillermo Del Toro-directed film’s release next month.

* CineEurope, the cinema event aimed at theatres in Europe has been showing snippets of new films, and premiering others (like Turbo featuring the voice talents of Samuel L Jackson and Ryan Reynolds). On Tuesday, Fox Searchlight paid tribute to James Gandolfini when sharing the first footage from the last film he was working on before he died last week, called Animal Rescue. Tonight the lights on Broadway will be dimmed for him, ahead of his funeral in NYC tomorrow.

* Rejoice! Stevie Wonder is working on an album of gospel songs, which he’ll create with music impresario David Foster and a symphony orchestra. Titled When the World Began, the album is expected to feature both new songs and remakes of some of his classics, such as Isn’t She Lovely.

* Trent Reznor says he seized a ‘moment of inspiration‘ and that’s how he ended up creating the new Nine Inch Nails album, Hesitation Marks, due out in September.  A video for the album’s first single Came Back Haunted, directed by David Lynch,  is expected to make its way into the world this week.

* Tuesday marked 4 years since Michael Jackson died of cardiac arrest from an overdose of Propofol. Meanwhile, the wrongful-death lawsuit, led by his mother and children, continues to play out in an LA courtroom. And today, his oldest son Prince, is expected to testify in that courtroom. Will MJ ever RIP?

[Pic: Warner Bros]


* Disney has released a second trailer for Sam Raimi’s Oz The Great and Powerful, giving a little more insight into the film that focusses on Oscar Diggs, played by James Franco, the Kansas circus magician before he becomes known as the Wizard.

* Stevie Wonder will perform at the American Music Awards this weekend, in tribute to the show’s creator and American Bandstand host Dick Clark, who died in April.

* Ridley Scott is looking for Bruce Springsteen fans to help make a crowd-sourced documentary about the Jersey-born musician. Springsteen will also join a line-up of stars for a Superstorm Sandy relief concert at Madison Square Garden in December.

* The National Book Awards has honored both longtime writers and new authors – Louise Erdrich won the fiction award for The Round House, while Katherine Boo’s debut, Beyond the Beautiful Forevers picked up non-fiction.

* Soapie fans are preparing to say goodbye to Susan Flannery, aka Stephanie Forrester, who’ll retire from a legendary career on one of the longest-running daytime dramas.