Michael Franti and Spearhead deliver the goods to a packed house
Musician and political activist Michael Franti played for a packed Fillmore Auditorium on Friday night, proving yet again why he is such a unique musician.
Franti and his band, Spearhead, played in Denver as a part of the Harvest Ball, a two-night celebration of “all the freaky people who make the beauty of the world,” according to the concert poster. The Harvest Ball also encouraged recycling with stage decorations and informational booths.
On Friday night, the Spearhead band members included Franti on guitar and vocals, Carl Young on bass, Dave Shul on guitar, Manas Itene on drums, and a guest percussionist.
The night started out with a set from The Wailers, which gave out a reggae-dancehall vibe to roughly 3,500 audience members. They played a lot of favorites that were made well-known by Bob Marley, and they were the perfect opening act for Franti and Spearhead. Their set list included such favorites as “Stir It Up,” “Jammin’,” “Trenchtown Rock” and “War.” The Wailers got everyone on their feet and dancing the minute they got on stage, which can be difficult for an opening band.
With about 20 minutes between acts, it was clear that the audience wanted to keep the energy going. As part of the Harvest Ball’s reduce-reuse-recycle theme, there was a contest for the best Halloween costume made out of recycled goods. By cheering the loudest, the audience decided “The Giving Tree” costume, made out of green duct tape, deserved to win first place.
Spearhead opened with “Time to Go Home,” the opening song from their album Yell Fire, which was released this summer. Off-stage, Michael Franti began singing the opening lyrics and after the first verse and chorus, he exploded onto the stage with all his energy, which really got the crowd going.
“How ya feelin’?” Franti yelled out to the crowd.
He interacted with the audience members, keeping them moving and jumping and screaming and dancing. Franti was all over the stage, playing electric guitar, acoustic guitar and at times, dancing along with the crowd in his bare feet.
This weekend’s shows are a part of Spearhead’s “Yell Fire” U.S. tour. This weekend was the first time most of the crowd had heard many of songs Spearhead played at the show. These songs included “East to the West,” “Yell Fire,” “One Step Closer to You,” “Light Up Ya Lighter” and “Hello Bonjour.”
The energy flowed smoothly from song to song, and audience members were feeling good.
In addition to playing new songs, the band played older favorites such as “People in Da Middle” and “Ganja Babe.”
Franti finished off the night with an encore that included “Bomb the World,” during which the crowd sang, “You can bomb the world to pieces, but you can’t bomb it into peace.”
Franti and Spearhead played a family matinee show Saturday, as well as a Saturday night show with State Radio. Saturday nights’ show matched Friday night with high energy, a good mix of old and new songs and a great opening act from State Radio.