People who don’t enjoy a good tribute band don’t know how to enjoy life. Period. Seeing a band go through an artist’s catalog with fervor and reverence reminds me how much impact music can have on someone’s life, or even their own personal music pursuit. It takes stark audacity to take on a legendary artist’s or groups collection of songs, even dressing up like them is probably the best display of theater there is.
Whether it’s Lep Zepagain (Led Zeppelin tribute from Ventura, California), Which Ones Pink (a Southern California based Pink Floyd Tribute) or Dead Man’s Party (Oingo Boingo Tribute), it’s fun to grab some drinks and sing along to the songs we grew up on.
The crowds of these shows are an amalgamation of young fans and older fans alike, all ready to dance or rock out to seminal tunes performed to the best ability possible short of the original artist’s version.
Last night, thanks to AXS TV, I got to see an irreproachable performance from Charlotte, North Carolina based Stevie Wonder tribute called Natural Wonder, possibly the coolest tribute I’ve seen yet.
Natural Wonder, who got their name from the live album of the legendary musician’s twenty years ago, are an incredibly fun show to watch, each member of the band was full of energy and play through the songs as if it was the last time they ever got to play it live, it helps that they were performing live on television for AXStv’s “The World’s Greatest Tribute Bands”(http://www.axs.tv/programs/worlds-greatest-tribute-bands/). Their set was over 50 minutes long, with a short commercial break towards the end, every minute packed with Wonder classics played near perfectly, like “Master Blaster,” “Higher Ground” and “Superstition.”
Even vocalist/keyboardist Gabriel Bello captured an almost spitting image of Stevie with his gettup, vocal nuances and stage presence, bobbing left and right to the beat like the man himself. Maybe this comes from a biased place being an ardent Wonder fan, but they made his entire body of work sound fresh, as if these songs spanning over 50+ year career were brand new.
The crowd itself surrounding all the expensive camera equipment were an interesting mix of middle aged people and young people, all dancing to the funky tunes throughout the whole set. Even the crowd had other tribute artists, who also have performed on the show, all hanging out together and having fun.
So I may never get to say I got to see Elton John hang out with Paul Stanley, but at least I can find solace in their doppelgangers hanging out and getting down to some excellent Stevie Wonder tunes. Hearing all of these classics was a brief reverie, as if I was seeing Wonder himself, which could have fooled me if I wasn’t paying attention, these guys took great songs and gave them the most reverent renditions I’ve ever heard. Be sure to watch AXStv’s “The World’s Greatest Tribute Bands” on Tuesdays for live broadcasts of great Tribute bands performing, next week is Double Vision, a Foreigner tribute.
Kieran J. MacIntyre is a voracious music nerd of all genres, bass player and managing editor of M&C Music. You can find him on Twitter