By CRAIG HAMMONS
– SOULROCKER (Sol-rahk-er) – One who lives from the heart, with compassion for all, and possesses a tenacious enthusiasm for music, life and the planet.
Once Michael Franti and his band Spearhead stepped on stage, this evening became a celebration of life.
He’s a soul saver, life changer and spiritual and lyrical activist whose music gives fans renewed energy and a stronger sense of purpose. We were here to hear the music that would take our minds off the madness that’s going on in this crazy world and unite us all as one.
The crowd was already on their collective feet ready to dance, sing and rejoice in the music that would bring good vibes to us all night long. Once you attend a Franti concert you understand the power of this man, his band, his message of love and the pleasure it brings. By his second song “Sound of Sunshine,” he had already invited a couple of kids on stage to join him. These are family shows that span generations. Franti works the stage with his arms wide open. When he asks “How ya feelin’?” we all respond with cheers of happiness.
The songs on the current tour are heavily focused on his newest CD, Soulrocker. When he performed the latest single “Good to Be Alive Today,” he engaged the audience to listen and understand deep inside what he’s singing about. He then entered the audience and made his way back to the mid-section armed only with his guitar and a song.
Along the way he hugged, took photos and let people sing with him. The crowd becomes one and we listen to his quiet observations on things that are personal but yet universal. When he told the audience about growing up as an adopted child he said “We were told to receive everyone as we would want to be received, regardless of their background, race or what school they came from.”
It brought tears to my eyes to see a mother lift her son out of his wheelchair and hold him up to dance together for a few minutes. Franti on his way back to the stage saw this and stopped and gave them both a big hug while still singing. I later spoke to the mom who said her son was paralyzed on his right side and had not smiled from ear to ear for years, but tonight he was wearing a full smile.
The live show is a musical miracle we all share together. I walked in to the Pacific Amphitheatre tonight knowing about three people. When I left I felt like I had 7,000 new friends. When he sang “Once a Day,” he asked us to interlock our arms together with our neighbors and create a universal bond. The old man and his wife next to me put their arms around me as we sang “Everybody ought to hug somebody, at least once a day and we all will rise up.” The live show is also a dance party when Franti says “I want to see everyone jump!” every single person had their hands in the air jumping and reaching for the moon.
I looked around and saw the energy, fun and smiles on the faces of everyone there. Franti says “I make music because I believe it can change people’s lives and make a difference in the world.” Tonight we all believed in his message.
Towards the end of the set he said “We got to get some kids up here!” Next thing, he had about two dozen kids on stage singing “Say Hey (I Love You)” with him. He gave the mic to the little kid next to him who knew every word. He then did “My Lord” which turned the place into a giant party with people dancing in the aisles, holding each other, making new friends, crying tears of joy and for a few hours, feeling — as Bob Marley once sang — that “Every little thing is going to be all right.” He then thanked the whole crew from each band member to the bus driver. As they whole crew came out John Lennon’s imagine was playing over the sound system.
Michael Franti and Spearhead touched each and every one of us tonight with his love and honesty. So let’s all be Soulrockers and be full of compassion and one day maybe the world will live as one.
Opening the evening was G. Love and Special Sauce who brought his brand of blues, funk and soul that was well received.
Soulrocker Tour – Pacific Amphitheatre with G. Love and Special Sauce