S&S brings you a special picture gallery from the night music royalty stopped off in Abu Dhabi.
Music legend Stevie Wonder brought Flash’s ‘Yas Island Show Weekends 2011’ to a rapturous close last month when the Motown legend performed a marathon two-and-a-half hour set to a crowd of almost 16,000 fans.
Delivering some of his most famous songs, including ‘Do I Do’, ‘I Just Called To Say I Love You’ and ‘For Once In My Life’, Wonder showed off his skills on a range of instruments – from piano to harmonica to a keytar (guitar/keyboard hybrid) and even the drums – and delighted fans with impromptu jams and humorous banter.
The majority of the backline for the gig was supplied by Dubai-based Musician’s Warehouse, including the keytar, which director Grant Collins says was a last minute inclusion.
“We were only too happy to respond to the last minute request and the keytar proved an instant show stopper, with the maestro himself playing it while lying on his back on stage.”
The firm also supplied a Concert Grand Piano with MIDI capability for the show – the first time Wonder had played on a full size piano with such capabilities, having previously used smaller sized versions, something Collins says impressed the artist.
“He was really happy, which was fantastic. It’s great to be involved with artists of this magnitude and production companies like Flash. When we saw Stevie on stage with one of our instruments, it was a great feeling,” he says.
In addition to an array of instruments and support gear such as stands and tuners supplied for Wonder’s band and backup singers, Musician’s Warehouse also provided a Yamaha Motif XS 8 Workstation Keyboard 17/3 19/3 with Apex column keyboard stand and a set of Roland V electronic drums 17/3 19/3 for the singer.
Wonder’s former LD Sid Strong once described him as the most “visually aware” musician he’d ever worked with, saying that although blind, he plays an active role in the creative elements of his shows.
For the Abu Dhabi gig, Wonder’s first in the Middle East, lighting was a mixed affair, with looks ranging from one extreme to the other in intensity.
LD Mark Cunniffe kept things simple and low-key for the singer’s ballads and then turned up with dial with some big, bright and bold looks for the funkier inclusions in the set list.
A kaleidoscope of colours from well over a hundred Clay Paky Alpha Spots, Alpha Beams and Martin MAC Wash, Spots and moving head LEDs worked in conjunction with almost psychedelic flash animations on a collection of low-res LEDs screens at the back of the stage.
Gear specialist Eclipse enjoyed its first run as video and lighting supplier for the Yas main stage, with GM Darren Hodge personally managing the project, renewing his long term working relationship with Cunniffe, who he has previously worked with on projects such as the European MTV Awards.
Eclipse used its newly purchased Clay Paky Alpa Spot 1500s and MDG Max 5000 Power Fog Generators at the show, which “helped make the event” says Hodge.
An Eclipse team consisting of Paul Foschi, HOD Video; Dorai Arulswamy and Chris Rubio installed and operated 36 Martin LC plus 72 sq metre transparent 40 millimetre LED backdrop video screens, which showcased the dynamic bursts of colourful animations that wowed the audience.
Wonder dedicated the show to those in earthquake and tsunami-ravaged Japan, and hinted at a return to our shores, expressing his interest in doing a charity concert in aid of those affected by the natural disasters.