Michael Franti and Spearhead in the house! With its open dance-floor and spacious mezzanine appeal, the Fox Oakland was the perfect place to be on Oct.11. After Michael proclaimed, “I wanna rock with you!” it was a feel-good vibration invitation from the get-go.
Michael and his red-hot Spearhead band provoke a social awareness party-time! Our warm-hearted, barefootin’ messenger of universal love and equality took the crowd on an emotional joy ride, implanting a sense of unity and optimism. When Michael spreads his long wingspan and begs everyone to “wave yo’ hands way up high, and come on, everybody, let’s all jump together!” there is elation in the air. Later, he slows down the booming musical pace to announce that he has a new Foundation, called Do It For the Love, that brings people with life-threatening illnesses, kids with severe challenges, and wounded veterans to live concerts. He then reveals the personal ordeal he faced on tour when he needed an emergency appendix removal. Not once nor twice, but during four different songs, Michael comes out to get cozy with the crowd, roaming freely to embrace his fans all the way up to the last rows of the balcony, all while singing songs of consciousness.
Equally touching was the story he told about his roots, and how his Irish-German-French mother and African American-Native Indian father gave him up for adoption on the day of his birth at Oakland’s Kaiser Hospital. He made the crowd laugh along with his trials and tribulations of growing up in San Francisco in a Finnish-American household that already had three biological children and two adopted African American children. His new mom, a 4’10” school teacher, had no idea that Michael would ultimately sprout to 6’6” and become a springboard of musical activity while at the University of San Francisco, where he took spoken word and poetry to a new level.
Within a few years, he got his lucky break: opening up for U2 on their Zoo TV tour. After many creative projects and collaborations during the ’90s, Michael entered the new millennium with two break-through, must-have albums, Stay Human and Everyone Deserves Music. Soon he was a fixture on the festival concert scene, headlining all the major NorCal festivals, such as Earthdance, Reggae On the River, Harmony Festival, Sierra Nevada World Music Festival, and his very own Power To the Peaceful concert in Golden Gate Park.
Michael breaks all barriers at his concerts and has steadily become one of the most respected and socially active artists in the universal music circle. His commitment to environmentalism and One-Love mentality is monumental. Just have a good look at his current massive stage banner backdrop of a rainbow-colored beating heart, his ever-present peacock feather, and his sunshine-painted acoustic guitar. There’s no way you can pass up the opportunity to jump and sing along with Michael and his airborne happy bare feet, while his messages of peace, community, spirituality, diversity and connectivity hit you with a rockin’ feverish dose of positivity!
Michael is a world-wise groove master who reaches out to touch your heart any chance he’s got. During the encore songs, he invited all the children in the theater to come up on stage to dance along and share in the fun. His new album, All People, and his hit single, “I’m Alive,” speakwonders. Year after year, tour after tour, he still will lower himself from the main stage after the final encore to submerge himself into the audience for direct fan appreciation interaction, offering hugs, kisses, and photo opportunities for all. Power To the Peaceful reigns supreme when Michael Franti comes around.