NEW YORK, NY—When Michael Franti took the stage at Terminal 5 on a Tuesday night, he began by sharing with the enthusiastic crowd how he had recently been hospitalized for a ruptured appendix and that because of this he was even happier to be there that night. This was the running theme of Michael Franti and Spearhead’s show that night: A deep and genuine appreciation for life, love and music.
Franti said hello to the crowd and to the world with the engaging Hello,Bonjour—the chorus of which involves him calling out, and the crowd repeating, hello in different languages. The song had this audience of all ages singing and dancing and it never let up throughout the entire show. There is such a personal relationship between Franti and his fans that what comes through is a mutual rejoicing in the other’s presence.
The band wowed the crowd with songs like “Yell, Fire” and “Hey World!” but when Franti took off his cap, freeing his dreads that seemed to dance on their own, the entire room erupted and the show shifted into an even higher intensity where it remained.
Franti is a master at controlling the emotion of the room as evidenced by the way he slowed the pace down with his acoustic set. The song “I Got Love For You” followed a touching introduction about Franti’s 21-year-old son leaving home to move to New York. He invited the entire audience to his house in San Francisco where he and his friends sit around and play songs like “Sound Of Sunshine” and “A Minute Is All I Need.” He had fun with “Oh My God/Billy Jean” and even brought a couple up from the crowd and gave them guitars. No one expected the woman to launch into the riff from Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit! The show ended with Franti’s biggest hit to date, “Say Hey (I Love You).” Franti brought another fan up to help sing the closing number—a little girl who looked not much older than six!
When the show was over the feeling in the room seemed to be complete awe! It was an uplifting and energized performance. You can not mistake the love that radiates from every fiber of his 6’5”-plus being. What he sends out into the audience is returned to him two-fold. I heard someone compare it to being in church. The band left the stage but Franti stayed and took pictures, gave out hugs, handshakes and kisses to almost everyone who asked. It seemed like he would have stayed with the fans all night if they hadn’t finally come to get him. It is easy to see why he draws fans of all ages. He sings from his soul and sends it with love to his fans. Anyone can appreciate that soul to soul connection regardless of age.