Sadness and Stevie Wonder just don’t mix. While the iconic musician has certainly weathered his share of adversity and heartbreak, his discography and public persona have always been exuberant, from signing to Motown’s Tamla label at age 11 to now. His hits, like “Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I’m Yours” and “Sir Duke,” are nothing but sunshine.
In 1972, at just 22-years-old, Wonder entered his “classic period” with the arrival of his 15th studio album, Talking Book, home to that catchy little tune called “Superstition.” Around that same time, Wonder toured with The Rolling Stones, breaking him out of the R&B/soul mold in which he’d been previously cast. He shot to success and went out on a tour of his own, prior to the release of his next album, 1973’s Innervisions.
This week in 1973, Wonder played a set at Winterland, followed by an energetic show at the Berkeley Community Theatre in California the next day. While he recorded most of the Talking Book instrumentals in the studio himself, here he’s joined by his touring band Wonderlove. From the funky fade-in of “For Once In My Life” to the groovy sway of closing hit “You Are The Sunshine Of My Life” (from Talking Book), the set is a non-stop stream of superb jazz collaboration under Wonder’s soulful direction. The band also covers the classic soul tune “Killing Me Softly With His Song,” which would become a number one hit for Roberta Flack that same year.
Listen to Stevie Wonder perform in California in 1973 below.