Guest Author - Chris Curtis
I'll tell you, I've been won over by the positive energy flowing from Michael Franti and Spearhead. I wasn't going to do this review because Michael's publicist offered no incentive for me to make an effort; but, the way this very talented musician connected with the audience confirms for me that the publicist wasn't speaking for Michael. Michael would have met with me. Michael would have shared his view of the world. Watching him in action convinced me he has a voice to be shared and heard.
Opening the show for Michael Franti, was British rocker, Bobby Long who is best known for his tune Let me Sign which made its way onto the soundtrack of the movie, Twilight, as performed by Robert Pattinson. Long opened the show with a few mellow amplified acoustic tunes before ramping up with his full band into a set of contemporary rock. I particularly liked The Bounty of Mary Jane.
Then, Michael Franti took the stage to a hugely enthusiastic crowd ranging from 6 to 60+. What struck me was Michael's connection with his audience. He was totally engaging from start to end; and, it wasn't put on – it was completely sincere. He and his band mates were there, in the now, part of the crowd, and loving every minute of it.
The second thing that struck me was his energy and the feed back of energy from the packed room of gyrating bodies. It was a highly participatory experience with a natural high. It's the same energy high I get from dancing Zydeco, the pulsing exchange from the musicians to the fans and back to the musician. The experience leaves me feeling euphoric.
The third thing that got my attention was – Michael's music is fresh – a little bit of hiphop rap, a little bit of reggae, a little bit of folk spiced with some funk, jazz and rock and shaken up with a social consciousness and a love for life creating an elixir of fresh sounds.
Michael isn't alone on that stage – his band mates are tight with a great sound. The smile on Jay Bowman's face lit up the stage the whole night long while Carl Young on Bass and Manas Itiene on Drums kept the beat and rhythm strong. The sound crew had the mix perfect – loud without drowning out the vocals.
The set list included favorites plus many more too numerous to list them all.
The Sound of Sunshine
The Thing That Helps Me Get Through
I Got Love for You (written for his son who was front and center among the fans for this show)
Rude Boys are Back in Town
Michael called all children plus anyone over 60 to the stage for the last tune of the set. It was all too compelling to resist getting on that stage with Michael, and so I did! He then launched into Say Hey, (I Love You) - This was an unbelievably exciting feel good experience. Check Michael out here. His website has full versions of much of his music as well as the lyrics. As I said, Michael Franti has a voice to be heard; listen to it because it will make you feel good and because his message is full of positive energy.