It was 10pm, Sunday night, December 10, 2017, when the genius, Stevie Wonder, finally took to the stage to perform, in its entirety, and in sequence, his iconic Talking Book album. The critically-acclaimed project released in 1972 featured the enduring singles, “Superstition” and “You Are the Sunshine of My Life.” Naturally, the hit songs by Wonder brought the 20,000 plus Los Angeles Staples Center audience to its feet for his annual House Full of Toys concert, but it was those magical Talking Book album cuts that truly mesmerized: songs like “Maybe Your Baby,” the pair of jazzy-influence tunes, “You’ve Got it Bad Girl,” and “Looking For Another Pure Love,” and the emotive ballad, “Blame It On The Sun,” which literally brought Wonder to tears.
During a 15 minute break, KJLH-FM (the local L.A. station owned by Wonder) mixshow DJ, MaL-Ski, turned Staples Center into an old school dance floor with a medley of Prince versus Michael Jackson hits. The 11pm intermission gave Wonder time to not only change clothes but to change bands and background singers for a complete performance of Innervisions, which won the Grammy Album of Year Award in 1974.
Starting with the album opener, “Too High,” to the hit singles “Living For the City,” “Higher Ground,” and “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing,” Stevie brought out some famous friends to perform alongside him on the beautiful Innervision ballads: “Golden Lady” (featuring Pharrell), “All in Love is Fair” (with a vocal tour de force by Andra Day) and “Visions” (featuring powerful poetry delivered by rapper/actor Common). By midnight Stevie was performing the soul-stirring “Jesus Children of America,” and the album’s closer, “He’s Mistra Know It All.”
The entire night clocked in just over 4 hours, kicking off the 8pm hour with performances by the legendary Tony Bennett (singing with Wonder on “For Once in My Life” and his signature “I Left My Heart in San Francisco”), Dave Matthews (performing his popular single “Crush”), Andra Day & Common performing her new song (“Stand Up For Something”), in addition to a fun duet of “Happy” sung by between Pharrell and Wonder.
The House Full of Toys concert has become a perennial event for Wonder, with ticket proceeds and unwrapped gifts for needy children.