Michael Franti & Spearhead gets the crowd dancing

A review of Michael Franti & Spearhead at the Orpheum Theatre on November 16

, Staff Writer

For a lot of people, Sunday nights are low-key. You put on sweats, maybe watch some football, cook a nice dinner, then head to bed a little early to face Monday’s inescapable arrival. But if you’re Michael Franti, you do things a little differently. If you’re Michael Franti, Sunday night is a night for a dance party.&

Last Sunday, Michael Franti and Spearhead pulled out all the stops and blasted the crowd at the Orpheum with an awesome performance. Amid an elaborate stage decorated with neon tubing, Franti played a set that kept the tempo up, the energy high, and the vibes good. From beat one, everyone was dancing, and hardly anyone stopped for the two-plus hours set. The concert featured a good amount of material from Spearhead’s latest disc, All Rebel Rockers, along with a heaping of songs from Franti’s substantial songbook.&

Singer Cherine Anderson has been accompanying Franti & Spearhead this tour, and brought a stage presence that elevated every aspect of the band. She’s got an incredible talent and a lot of really fun, loud energy. With a powerful, reggae-bred voice and a knack for a high-speed breakdown, she just plain brings it. Constantly wearing a gigantic smile and dancing nonstop, she was a great addition to the ensemble and a rich blend to Franti’s smooth delivery. During “I Got Love For You” Anderson brought a red-faced bro in a Sox jersey onstage, who proceeded to dance with her in an awkward yet hilarious addition to the evening.& &

With no opening act, Franti was able to take the stage before the 9:00 schedule, but that didn’t stop him from partying hard late into the night. The show felt like a celebration from an artist who takes his politics and place in the world very seriously. Franti’s songs deal with a range of social and political ills, but they maintain a vibrant hope in the goodness of people to bring about even the biggest change.

But Franti didn’t preach or try to get righteous from the microphone. He told a couple stories, got a little quiet before the haunting, remarkable “anybody Seen My Mind?”, and talked about the war before getting loud with “Yell Fire!”, a powerful cry for the troops to come home. Mostly he let his music tell the stories and the energy of his music spread the love, and that’s what Michael Franti & Spearhead are all about.

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