The year 2011 will go down in history for Abu Dhabi's concert scene.
Within those 12 months, music fans were treated to concerts from Paul McCartney, Britney Spears and Metallica.
While those shows were memorable for various reasons, including Spears’ unapologetic miming and Metallica’s decibel-shattering production, none came close to the sheer enjoyment of seeing Stevie Wonder gracing the Du Arena stage.
The show was a major coup for concert promoters Flash Entertainment.
At the time, Wonder was not promoting an album and the concert was part of a relatively small 29-date run that included Australia and North America.
Alongside his nine-piece band Wonderlove, Wonder delivered a 90-minute set packed with fan-favourite hits and illustrated his influential role in popularising staple African-American genres, such as gospel, soul and RnB.
Highlights included muscular takes of funk classic Superstition and I Wish before treating the crowd to the silky balladry of My Cherie Amour an I Just Called to Say I Love You.
The fact these songs sound so comforting and familiar demonstrate the magnitude of Wonder’s achievements.
An artist formerly signed to the famed Motown label, Wonder was instrumental in pushing its once adventurous fusion sounds to the charts.
Meanwhile, his energetic blend of rock and funk brought something fresh and vibrant to US radio stations and, in turn, cleared a path for other black artists, from Prince to Lenny Kravitz, to follow.
In his column for The National, ahead of the Abu Dhabi show, biographer Mark Ribowsky spoke about the cultural impact Wonder's concert would have on the city.
It is one still experienced today, as promoters are encouraged to bring many of his peers to the city as possible — such as Lionel Ritchie and Sade — for their own successful shows.
“At the very least, during those few historic hours [in Abu Dhabi] ... the world will stop and listen,” Ribowsky said.
“And, in many ways, discernible or perceived, Abu Dhabi will never be quite the same. That's what being in Wonderland is all about.”