Hillary Clinton supporters lined up on both sides of the 1700 block of Walnut Street early Friday evening hoping to make it in the door of the dance club Coda to see Stevie Wonder play the first of his "Love Trumps Hate" battleground-state concerts in support of the Democratic presidential candidate.
Those lucky enough to gain entry to the 600-capacity club - a mixture of VIPs like former Mayor Michael Nutter, who introduced Wonder as "a musical and social genius," and super fans such as Michael Meyer, who had driven from Rochester, N.Y., hoping to get his copy of Songs in the Key of Life autographed - were treated to a life-affirming mix of hortatory straight-from-the-church political speech and inspirational music.
Before opening with "You Are the Sunshine of My Life," at the keyboard, Wonder praised Clinton. "I've had a chance to get to know her in her heart," he said. And at the get-out-the-vote pep rally, he derided Donald Trump as "a reality-show star who is not showing reality." He quoted the rap group Public Enemy in admonishing the crowd to "don't believe the hype" concerning the Republican candidate and noted that "it's always an empty wagon that makes a lot of noise."
Moving to the harpejji, a percussive string instrument that he's mastered in recent years, Wonder evoked a communal spirit - and a Philly soul sound - with a cover of the O'Jays' "Family Reunion."
Sliding back over to his piano bench, he then reeled off a succession of sing-along hits, with his keening soul voice showing undiminished power.
"Signed, Sealed, Delivered," "Sir Duke," "Higher Ground," and "Don't You Worry 'Bout a Thing," were prefaced by a plea for togetherness: "The end purpose of the world is to become a united people," he said. "And we must first do it in this country."
Later, the 66-year-old Wonder addressed "I Just Called To Say I Love You" to Clinton and the would-be voters in the room before closing the just-under-an-hour show with the help of two backup musicians with the unstoppable funk of "Superstitious," in which he rumbled and growled to his get-out-the-vote musical argument for his policy-centric candidate: "When you believe in things you don't understand, you suffer."
The show was one of many in a final weekend pop-star push behind Clinton. On Saturday, the candidate will appear along with Katy Perry at a concert at the Mann Center in Fairmount Park. And Beyoncé was expected to be joining her husband, Jay Z, campaigning with Clinton in Ohio throughout the weekend.