On the same day a naval shipyard in our nation’s capital was ravaged by senseless violence, Michael Franti and Spearhead came to Upstate Concert Hall in Clifton Park on September, 16th to deliver their ongoing message of love, peace, harmony, and equality. Although for just a few hours, Franti was determined to help his fans escape the sometimes vicious world in which they live.
As with most Michael Franti and Spearhead shows, the lead singer spent more time in the crowd than he did on the actual stage. Many songs were performed from the middle of the audience on a makeshift 4’x4’ “stage” including an energetic version of “Hey, Hey, Hey” which broke into a reggae version of Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky”. Franti also performed a moving rendition of “Closer to You” while dancing with a wheelchair-bound fan and then allowing her to remain on yet another elevated platform for the remainder of the evening so that her view was unobstructed.
Throughout the evening, Franti took his audience on an emotional rollercoaster ride. By way of both his unique style of storytelling and his moving vocal performance, Franti had them cheering and dancing one minute, and near tears the next. One particularly moving performance was “Goodbye”, sung mostly in a Nigerian dialectic by Spearhead drummer, Manas Itiene, which somehow crossed all language barriers and relayed a message of hopelessness and despair. A much brighter moment was a “crowd-participation” version of the hit single “Sound of Sunshine”, enhanced by giant yellow balloons volleyed through the air and Franti performing on top of the venue bar!
Indie-rock band, The Kopecky Family Band, kicked off the evening. Highlights from their set included their hit single “Heartbeat” and a great rendition of Fleetwood Mac’s “Tusk”.
Setlist: I Don’t Wanna Go, Yes I Will/Stay Human, Yell Fire, Do It for the Love, All I Want is You, Sound of Sunshine, 11.59, Closer to You, Life is Better with You, Gangsta Girl, Hey World, All People, Say Goodbye, Hey Hey Hey
Encore: Let it Go, Long Ride Home, I’m Alive, Say Hey