The audience was told to hug a neighbor at least five times. Lyrics such as “They say that miracles are never ceasing / And every single soul needs a little release” were heard. This positive vibe radiated from Michael Franti and Spearhead, a hip hop-reggae-funk fusion band from California, as they performed at the Wellmont Theatre in Montclair, NJ last week. The band also brought awareness to social issues and sparked authentic human interactions in the Garden State.
The band members include Michael Franti (guitar, vocals), Carl Young (bass), Manas Itiene (Drums), J. Bowman (guitar), Mike Blankenship (keyboards), and an unidentified female vocalist.
The positive message and awareness to social issues stood out in a meaningful way. Franti’s recent song “The Flower,” a tribute to victims of gun violence, featured a video with survivors and scrolling gun violence statistics. Songs like “Just Work Hard And Be Nice To People” and “Good To Be Alive Today” brought a positive message mixed with short jams.
Strong musical skills were displayed during a flawless switch from Lionel Ritchie’s “All Night Long” to “Life Is Better With You.” The band was joined by an unidentified guest vocalist for this sequence, which included the original video of “All Night Long” by Lionel Richie on an LED screen behind the band.
Franti was engaged with the entire audience, not just those in the front row. He sang two songs while on the floor, in the middle of the crowd. He also took a quick adventure to the balcony for a few verses. A myriad number of fans were brought on stage, including a couple who got engaged, and all the children on the floor during “Say Hey (I Love You).”
The band has a couple of tour dates left in 2019 and will be on tour with Kenny Chesney in 2020. Head over to their tour page for more details.