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REVIEW: The Wonder of Stevie, The Platform, Morecambe

Noel McCalla, lead singer with The Wonder of Stevie

This was a wonderful night of music in Morecambe in tribute to an icon.

The Wonder of Stevie was a fabulous evening's entertainment both for fans of the great Stevie Wonder, as well as fans of live music in general.

An exceptional six-piece band performed Stevie classics like 'Isn't She Lovely?', 'Don't You Worry 'Bout a Thing', 'Living for the City', 'Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours' and 'You Are the Sunshine of My Life' as well as lesser-known tracks like 'Golden Lady' and 'You Haven't Done Nothing'.

The concert, held on Friday at The Platform, was also a reminder of just how prolific the American singer-songwriter has been during his seven-decade career.

The show was two-and-a-half hours long (not including the interval) but could have easily gone on longer to include the likes of 'Lately', 'Happy Birthday', 'Uptight (Everything's Alright)', 'Part-Time Lover' and 'I Wish', as the band's greatest challenge was what to leave out!

The Wonder of Stevie is an unusual band, in that there are not one, but TWO front men.

Noel McCalla is lead vocalist but was joined out front by sax player Derek Nash.

Both perfectly played their roles as chief communicators with the audience.

McCalla is a versatile soul singer whose range and tone were ideal for the occasion.

He belted out party numbers like 'Superstition', 'Sir Duke' and my personal favourite 'Masterblaster (Jammin')' with gusto, while bringing softness and warmth to the slower 'Overjoyed' and a stripped-back rendition of 'I Just Called to Say I Love You'.

The latter was Stevie's biggest hit in the UK but has always been my least favourite. I enjoyed McCalla's version though!

Meanwhile Nash expertly cajoled the crowd to join in, while keeping us informed in between tunes with interesting titbits about each Stevie song, as well as his fellow musicians, ensuring that the show flowed beautifully.

Derek's joy at being part of the band was obvious and his respect for his fellow bandmates was infectious.

Speaking of the rest of the band, Neil Angilley on keyboards was utterly mesmerising. His fingers moved across the keys with blinding speed. A pianist with an outstanding pedigree, skilled in many diverse musical styles, his repertoire was fully on display here.

At times, McCalla and Nash took a step back to allow Angilley, guitarist Tim Cansfield, bass player Jonathan Noyce and drummer Nic France to take centre-stage for solos.

While I may have preferred it had they crammed in a few more Stevie songs to the set-list rather than elongate the tracks they did perform, I couldn't help but marvel at these extraordinary exhibitions of musical prowess.

The rest of the audience appreciated them too. It's not often you hear spontaneous applause mid-song at a concert of this type, but this happened on multiple occasions.

By the end of the night, the entire Platform was on its feet clapping, dancing and swaying to an encore of 'My Cherie Amour' and at the end, the band received a deserved standing ovation.

What a wonderful night of music!

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