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Stevie Wonder performs a pop up show at Dilworth Park, Philadelphia | Photo by Simon Klein

Playing the second leg of his marathon three-show day across the northeast, Stevie Wonder packed Dilworth Park in the center of Philadelphia for a short performance and Q&A. Devoted to giving back to the fans that love him, and speaking out about current events, Stevie performed free shows in both DC and Philly (he is now en route New York for a final stop tonight).  Stevie played through a few songs from his magnum opus Songs in the Key of Life and had people packed in the park, with some people even leaning out of windows in nearby City Hall to get a view.

Starting with “Love’s in Need of Love Today”, he electrified the crowd and had them singing along. The message of the song was dedicated towards asking for increasingly strict gun control laws, and increased responsibility for those who wield power. After a short Q&A about his album with press at the event, he played hit after hit to appease the adoring Philadelphia crowd. Even with his rushed time schedule, Stevie was able to play through “Sir Duke,” “I Wish,” “As” (where he was spontaneously joined by Philly R&B singer Jazmine Sullivan) and some of “Superstition.”  In between songs he talked with the crowd and reporters about his past experiences in Philadelphia, even mentioning the night of his 16th birthday he spent in the city.

Throughout much of the set he seemed to be in a very jovial mood, and was very happy to be sharing the hot afternoon with the crowd consistently joking about his previous work and Philadelphia. He was thankful for the support, and thanked his fans for everything they have done by supporting him throughout his career. Not all of his comments were completely lighthearted, however: in a answer to a question by a reporter he talked extensively about the creation of an accessible world for the disabled, and for the continued strengthening of gun laws and restrictions.

Throughout all of this, his message was that of increased unity and activism of the people to create a better, fuller world to live in. In relating these issues to his music, Stevie mentioned that many of the social problems faced have not changed, which is why the messages in Songs in the Key of Life still ring true with everyday people.

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