The African-American singer and songwriter, wearing lime
green sunglasses and braids down to his waist, headlined the
48th edition of the prestigious Swiss festival, fulfilling a
longtime wish of its late founder Claude "Funky" Nobs.
"Tonight's show is dedicated to a man who talked with me so long
about doing this event. He is watching us from up in heaven -
Mr. Nobs," Wonder told the sold-out crowd of some 4,000 fans.
Addressing Jones, a former co-director of Montreux who was
seated in the front row, Wonder said: "Not only a brother but a
friend, I'm so grateful I've known him since I was 14 years old.
He brought out Michael Jackson and so many young artists."
Wonder, a 22-time Grammy winner who has been blind from birth,
displayed his versatility, playing piano, harmonica and
percussion. He was backed by 10 musicians and four vocalists.
He alternated hit singles including "How Sweet It Is (To Be
Loved by You)", "You Are the Sunshine of My Life", "I Just
Called To Say I Love You" with the Beatles hit "Day Tripper",
Paul McCartney's "Ebony and Ivory" and Michael Jackson's "Billie
Jean" from the best-selling "Thriller" album produced by Jones.
During "Living for the City", about a poor Mississippi boy
encountering racism and New York drug pushers, he said: "How I
wish I didn't have to write a song like this. But I had to write
it, because it's true. There is prejudice in the world."
Wonder, 64, closed the show with "Superstition", bringing fans
in the front rows of seats - who paid 480 Swiss francs ($530) a
ticket - to their feet.
"It's been a wonderful night. I was a bit late coming because I
wasn't feeling good at all. But we had such a good time," he
said, apologizing for arriving more than an hour late.
[to top of second column]
"Maybe we'll come back next year," he added.
Some fans who spent 185 Swiss francs ($210) to stand were unable to
even enter the packed Auditorium Stravinski, where several women
collapsed from the heat and crowded conditions.
Vanessa Huguenin, taking a break from the overflowing hall, said:
"He's great, impressive and sounds so good live. I brought my
7-year-old son to a historic concert."
Among those attending was M.anifest, a rapper from Ghana who will
perform on the Montreux stage on Thursday with Britain's Damon
Albarn of Blur and Gorillaz fame.
"I've seen a legend, now I can die in peace. He was on my list and
my wish has been realized," Swiss fan Valerie Helfer told Reuters.
"There aren't any virtuosos like him these days. He played Latin
music, African music, blues, jazz and rock."
Nathalie Pichard agreed: "It was great. He is such a complete
artist, his voice, instruments - no lip-sync. We waited three hours
to be up front but it was worth it."
($1 = 0.8979 Swiss Francs)
(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)
[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.