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Jul 7, 2019

All night long with Stevie Wonder and Lionel Richie in Hyde Park

Stevie Wonder headlined the second unmissable day of Barclaycard presents British Summer Time, accompanied by a stunning support cast that included Lionel Richie, Lianne La Havas, Corinne Bailey Rae, Norman Jay MBE, The Heavy and Benedict Cork.

✏️ by BST Hyde Park. 📸 by Louise Morris, Luke Hannaford and Tom Hancock.

Few artists have made such a profound impact upon the music industry and society as Stevie Wonder, Motown’s most enduring and recognisable face. Aside from his unmatched back-catalogue that includes 32 #1 singles and worldwide sales of over 100 million units, his work as a tireless activist has elevated him beyond music stardom, a true legend. And here to a packed-out Great Oak Stage, Stevie demonstrated why he remains one of the world’s finest performers, personalities and people.

Stevie’s dynamic, rich and infectious vocals glided through a plethora of tracks from his unparalleled career. From ‘Higher Ground’ to ‘Sir Duke’, from ‘Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I’m Yours)’ to ‘Superstition’, the US singer’s voice seamlessly blended with the backing singers, drums, percussion, horns and more, accompanied by the swirling technicolour visuals behind illuminating the whole of Hyde Park. The performance also saw the US musician pay tribute to a number of greats, such as Amy Winehouse, Bob Marley, Aretha Franklin, Prince and David Bowie rounding up Stevie’s Song Party.

Towards the end of his show, Stevie revelaed, “I’m going to be doing three shows then taking a break. I’m having surgery. I’m going to have a kidney transplant at the end of September this year. I came here to give you my love and to thank you for yours. You ain’t gotta hear no rumours about us, I’m good” It was a typically defiant statement from an individual who has maintained his legacy in music for over 50 years, and who will no doubt continue this for generations to come.

Lionel Richie skipped onto stage and straight into the opening notes of ‘Running With The Night’, sounding just as sharp, sleek and sultry as upon its release 36 years ago. “I’m not going to do a lot of talking tonight. I’m just gonna’ play the songs and I hope you are going to sing along to every one of them!” Lionel’s wish was certainly granted, with the Hyde Park crowd bellowing back every word from tracks such as ‘Stuck On You’, ‘Endless Love’, ‘Hello’, ‘Dancing On The Ceiling’ and ‘Say You, Say Me’.

As Lionel’s momentous set came to a close (following several outfit changes), he turned again to address the audience. “I’ve been in the business some 250 years, and it’s amazing every time I play these songs, the crowd gets even louder. I have two nine-year olds and one 12-year old having a great time, which means when I’m 96 they’ll be on the front row and we’ll still be kicking ass!”

Lianne La Havas burst onto the scene in 2012 with her debut album Is Your Love Big Enough, which earned her a nomination in the BBC’s Sound Of poll and The Mercury Prize. ‘Au Cinéma’, off the aforementioned LP, kicked off the UK singer’s stunning set, receiving a massive cheer of approval from the attendees. Other highlights included her exquisite rendition of the late Aretha Franklin’s ‘Say A Prayer’ and 2015’s ‘Unstoppable’.

Leeds soul queen Corinne Bailey Rae is a familiar face at Hyde Park, having performed here in 2016 – when Stevie Wonder also headlined. It was another rapturously received set, with Corinne even covering her personal favourite Stevie number, ‘Love Having You Around’. Wearing a shimmering gold dress and castanets in hand, Corinne worked her way through tracks from her four albums, with a special rendition of her iconic 2016 hit ‘Put Your Records On’.

West London’s finest Norman Jay MBE kicked off the Great Oak Stage with a smooth set, welcoming early attendees with Minnie Riperton’s gorgeous vocals on ‘Song For Everyman’ – setting the precedent for a day of sun-blushed music. 

Opening the Second Stage was Joel Culpepper, who seamlessly flitted between falsetto and quick-fire bars, capped by an excellent rendition of Kelis’s 2003 anthem, ‘Millionaire’. Also featuring were vibrant girl band Four of Diamonds, Hype Park favourites The Cuban Brothers and rock royalty The Heavy, who gave a big shoutout to London Pride also taking place this weekend. 

The Summer Stage welcomed a host of talent, including the debut show from Attawalpa, Conrad and Benedict Cork.